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Citroën C-Metisse epitomizes the alternative future

Citroën C-Metisse epitomizes the alternative future

If there was one car that we saw that summed up the mood of the 2006 Paris Auto Show today, it was Citroën's C-Metisse concept car. Like most concepts, the C-Metisse is unique and not a little fantastical in its styling: four gull-wing doors, an impossibly long and low body, retractable airfoils, and huge, 20-inch wheels sitting in aggressive haunches mean that it wasn't built to go shopping in.

However, Citroën's choice of engine for its flying machine is far more of an indicator of where the real-world car industry--in Europe, and possibly globally--is going. The C-Metisse is powered by a diesel-electric hybrid engine that combines a V6 diesel-injection engine with two electric motors. The two propulsion sources form a "full hybrid" system, enabling the car to trundle around solely on battery power or to haul its carbon-fiber carcass up to 155mph, depending on who's driving.

More than being a blueprint for a possible production vehicle, the C-Metisse is a twofold statement of the prevailing wisdom in the auto world: firstly, that today's diesel engines can deliver more than enough performance for road-going cars; and secondly, that hybrid power trains have the potential to reach all automotive segments.