At the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, Citroën showed a more rugged, all-terrain MPV in the SpaceTourer Hyphen concept. While the concept's Dangel 4WD system and diesel engine provided a strong foundation for a more capable, go-anywhere van, the flamboyant, pop music-inspired aesthetics didn't seem like the best way to appeal to the 4x4 or adventure crowds. Building on the idea of the SpaceTourer MP-SUV, the new SpaceTourer 4x4 Ë Concept tones down the styling while gaining a few extra reinforcements and traction enhancements.
Given how boldly bright the SpaceTourer Hyphen was, it's hard not to start there in a conversation about what makes the SpaceTourer 4x4 Ë Concept different. Gone is the emergency orange and iridescent green, replaced on the exterior with gray camo and red accents over white paint, a combination that we could actually imagine showing up on road and dirt.
The interior is similarly subdued, its dual-tone blend of white and gray leather and gray Alcantara covering the five-seat interior like a soft, warm blanket. Embossed "Ë" lettering on the front headrests, aluminum trim, and red, white and blue accents tie into the Ë line of clothing and lifestyle products Citroën presented at last year's Paris Motor Show.
Like the SpaceTourer Hyphen, the SpaceTourer 4x4 Ë has a BlueHDi 150 S&S diesel engine pushing output through a six-speed manual and Dangel 4x4 system. Last year's concept was said to ride higher than the production SpaceTourer, but this year's gets a defined increase – 2.4 in (60 mm) above the standard SpaceTourer. In place of the Hyphen's elastomer tire straps, Citroën adds a set of red-accented snow chains to give the concept more bite on the slick, icy grounds of winter. A set of front and rear skid plates adds some protection down under.
The Ë Concept is based on the smallest SpaceTourer option, measuring 181 in (4,600 mm) in length. Even with its increased ground clearance, the concept rolls in under 2 m (78.7 in) high, allowing it to fit in height-restricted parking lots. Loading up family and gear is easy with the two hands-free, foot-operated sliding side doors and the liftgate with opening rear window. The concept offers up to 2,000 liters (70.6 cu ft) of load space.
A number of Citroën's assistive technologies, including lane departure warning, speed limiter with road sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and active safety brake, are also on board, while a 3D Connect Nav infotainment system with voice recognition and 7-in touchscreen, a head-up display and a 180-degree rear camera are also included.
The SpaceTourer 4x4 Ë Concept isn't the most rugged van concept we've seen lately (see the Nissan NV Cargo X, for example), but it's good to see yet another automaker thinking outside the pavement with a 4x4 van concept. Citroën will debut the concept at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, which opens to the press on March 7. New Atlas will be there to take a closer look.