GENEVA – Citroen releases its first official images of a new CUV as it follows an industry trend toward the visual impact of rugged utility vehicles.

Industry insiders also believe the French automaker’s compact C-Aircross Concept, set to debut at next month’s Geneva auto show, hints strongly at the styling language to be used with the new C3 Picasso.

Styling cues from both the C3 hatchback and the C4 Cactus CUV are distinctive, with the liberal use of Citroen’s “airbumps” on the car’s doors. Body cladding, raised suspension, bash plates and roof rails all add to the go-anywhere image that is attracting many new-car buyers.

Citroen seeks to emphasize a feeling of space in the cabin employing rear-hinged rear-passenger doors, large windows and a panoramic sunroof. The concept’s technologies feature a color head-up display, a single-spoke steering wheel with multiple controls, rear-facing cameras and wireless-induction charging for smartphones.

Clearly aimed at the urban consumer navigating congested city streets, its dimensions are compact with an overall length of 13.6 ft. (4.2 m), width of 5.7 ft. (1.7 m) and height of 5.3 ft. (1.6 m).

The wide seats are covered in quilt-effect embossed Alcantara material.

Connectivity comes with all functions controlled through a 12-in. (25-cm) central touchscreen operated by the driver or front passenger. The system also features Citroën Connect Nav, a 3D-connected navigation system with voice recognition. Depending on the onboard experience requested, the screen can be configured five different ways. The technology also lets passengers automatically synchronize all of their electronic devices via the screen.

With a nod to potential dirt-road capability, Citroen’s Grip Control dial built into the central console allows five operational modes:

  • Standard, for normal road conditions (main roads, freeways and urban roads).

  • Sand, simultaneously using both front wheels to reduce the risk of getting stuck on soft ground.

  • Off-road, acting as a limited-slip differential for traction on slippery surfaces such as mud, wet grass or gravel.

  • Snow, which adjusts the rotation of each of the driven wheels to the grip available.

  • ESP off, for enhanced fast cornering.

“The C-Aircross Concept demonstrates Citroen's pursuit of its international product offensive,” Citroen CEO Linda Jackson says. “Based on the state-of-mind of New C3, it illustrates a different vision for the compact SUV segment, full of confidence and boldness…(and) making its interior space a source of well-being.”