The French manufacturer Citroën is going back to the tradition of production models and prototypes whose powerful distinctive identity once made its name. This new mood was demonstrated at the Paris Mondial by the C-Airdream, an exploration in the spirit of pure research free from manufacturing constraints, of a 2+2 coupé concept.

The desire to link up with the brand’s glorious past transpires from the words of Jean-Pierre Ploué, Citroën’s director of design: “This is an exploration of a new design language that draws on the origins of the brand”. That stance is reiterated by Mark Lloyd, chief designer and the man in charge of the C-Airdream project. “Certainly the design draws on the history of the brand, but only in the form of rapid glances at that past. Look more closely and you will also find a contemporary update on the essence of the Traction Avant concept”.

Apart from the brand’s prestigious ancestry, this working prototype does bring to mind the silhouette of another concept car of thirty years ago: the Citroën Camargue based on the GS, which appeared on the Bertone stand at the Geneva Show in 1972.

Even so, the Airdream is a thoroughly contemporary car. The interior does have a bit of a Seventies feel that derives largely from its eccentric fur-covered seats. But that interior also weaves a magic spell that is all its own, in its combination of natural and artificial light, the former through its glass dome, the latter diffused by a system that is hidden away below the dashboard, the seats and the side panels. Some of the trim details are also unusual as Mark Lloyd points out. “Our decision to use ceramics was intended to make a powerful statement. That was our way of saying no to the aluminium the German brands have been using for several years now”.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 137

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