Is there a Minority Report sequel coming out that we're unaware of? If so, this concept Citroen's put together for the VivaTech Paris expo will fit right in, with its giant 30-inch wheel/tires, helicopter-like cabin, screenless dash and summer-house interior, among many other things.
Citroen's previous wacky future concept was the weird, boxy Ami One – a sexless, industrial-looking electric city getabout that stoked one's passion for driving about as much as a week-old fish wrapped in newspaper – which is fine, we get it, there won't be drivers in the future anyway, just don't expect us to get excited about it.
With the 19_19 concept, though, there's room for some open-road fun if you feel like turning the purely theoretical autonomous driving mode off and hooking into some corners with the steering wheel. And it's certainly an exercise imagining what it'd be like riding in this thing.
The first thing that strikes you visually is the oversized 30-inch rims, each wrapped in aerodynamic mudguards and with a stationary Citroen logo sitting pretty in each hub as the wheels rotate around it. Look closer, and you'll see that the whisper-thin tires wrap around the rims with fluid borders where you'd expect straight lines. They're made of porous, spongy material designed to help reduce road noise.
Separating those hulking rollers from the skateboard-like chassis floor is a "Progressive Hydrauilc Cushion" suspension system that floats the cabin around as the mudguards stay in place. It's an active suspension system, reading the road ahead through a series of sensors that allow it to prepare itself fully for what's coming and deliver a jolt-free "magic carpet ride," the cabin barely moving as the wheels bump up and down.
Ah yes, the cabin. Inspired by the cabins of helicopters, it's a bulletish blob of a thing with wide coach doors on either side. The headlights are wicked LED slashes at the front, a picture echoed by the tail lights at the rear. The body's widest at the shoulder to elbow zone, giving passengers the feeling of more space to move in while keeping aerodynamic drag to a minimum – drag being a key concern for any electric touring effort.
The entire body seems to be made from glass – or at least, something glassy – and it's tinted at the windshield and anodized elsewhere for color. That means that from inside, you can look down and see the road flashing by beneath you, which will make for a terrific sensation of speed on the highways. There are screens seamlessly embedded in the side doors to welcome the welcome, and presumably shoo-off the unwelcome. The obvious downside is that crumple zones could become shatter zones that rend the flesh of hapless passengers in a bingle. But it sure looks cool.
And then there's the interior, a jumble of shapes offering a bunch of different ways to enjoy the car. The driver's seat is sporty and supportive. The front passenger seat angles back like a banana sun lounge, head roll and all. And the back seat is a cushy sofa, split by a marble-finish drinks panel and criss-crossing strings to rest your head against. A lava lamp would really set it all off nicely ... it looks like the kind of lounge room your goth-adjacent girlfriend from college would have put together.
The dash is ultra-minimal, the car preferring to interface with you through a "hello Citroen" voice assistant. There's a borderless glassy area under the dash that serves as a projection screen if something so crass as a visual display is required.
Yes, it's electric and self-driving if required. Citroen's designers didn't get Elon Musk's memo about LiDAR being a "fool's errand," and they've stuck two on top of this thing, in sleek aero pods on the back of the roof. I'm not sure how much they can see from back there, but they don't detract from the looks – they actually look like a neat little pair of fins and could probably go higher without looking ugly.
It's borderline worthless to speak of power, torque and charging figures in a pie-sky concept like this one, but Citroen says the 19_19 will have a 100 kWh battery, a brisk 340 kW (456 hp) 4WD drive train, and 20-minute wireless inductive quick-charging delivering 600 km (370 miles) of range. Top the battery right up and it'll take you 800 km (500 miles) on the WLTP test cycle, the company assures us. Honestly, why even bother telling us which range test cycle you're going to use on a thing like this?
As concept cars go, it's pretty out there. But it's out there in some novel ways, it's the first concept I've seen in a while that I've thought would go straight into a sci-fi movie, and I have to admit I'm charmed by this bizarre French tourer, flesh-ripping glass bodywork or not.
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