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A closer look at Citroen's mad CXperience concept

Plug-in hybrid, big Citroen is a peek into the company's future

“We’re balancing the message,” Citroen’s head of product Xavier Peugeot tells Top Gear. “We have done a lot of small new cars and concepts lately. People might think Citroen is focussing only on small cars or is the downmarket brand of the group.

“But we still have ambition to be at the upper end of the market too. It’s the Citroen way.”

Certainly was once the Citroen way, when they made wonderful big cruisers such as the DS and CX as well as two-cylinder tiddlers.

So the CXperience might not be a direct preview of a specific future car, but it is a placeholder. It’s a declaration of intent that a big Citroen will one day be back.

It shows how the recent Citroen design and dynamics direction can work not just on a Cactus but on bigger cars too. It’s unaggressive, supple, furnished to cosset you, and the technology stays out of your face.

Outside there are some references to the CX and C6. See that concave rear screen, and the smooth sides and fastback. But it also has an interpretation of Citroen’s latest high nose.

Indoors it’s a big soft living room, on a big wheelbase. The seats are clad in memory foam. Sit in them and it feels like you’re floating. It’s part of Citroen’s new ‘advanced comfort’ initiative which also includes an unusual damper with very soft ends for a smoother ride, and better noise insulation in critical body shell parts. Comfort is a state of mind too. Hence the zen-like interior simplicity.

Under the skin is a plug-in hybrid drivetrain with an engine for the front wheels and electric at the back.

The platform is a stretched version of the EMP2 setup, which will also go under the production version of Citroen’s most excellent Aircross concept. That crossover comes in 2018, and there’s various other stuff filling the Citroen pipeline til 2020 - a crossover-y replacement for the C3 Picasso too.

But after that the way is clear for a big car. Citroen could never justify it for Europe only, but China is Citroen’s biggest market even now, and China digs big Euro-branded saloons, so the omens for a long luxurious Citroen are good.

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