Concept Cars

Citroën 19_19 Concept is yet another weird living room on wheels

It packs all the future tech you'd expect from a proper concept car.

Citroën

These days, it feels like a certain subset of concept cars are built to see just how weird automakers can get. To that end, the Citroën 19_19 Concept is making an effort to land on the top of that pile.

Citroën on Monday unveiled the 19_19 Concept. Built to show off the automaker's "vision of ultra-comfort and extended mobility to escape from the cities," it's part living room and part tech conference, packing all manner of halfway-to-science-fiction technologies with a wrapper that's both weird and luxurious at the same time.

From a style standpoint, the 19_19 Concept is straight-up weird. It's less a car and more of a Hot Wheels die-cast come to life. The wheels are huge and hang out at the extreme end of each corner, using its massive fender flares to give the car some serious width. The leading end is impossibly short, owing to its electric powertrain. The back doesn't look all that different from what's up front, giving it an odd amount of symmetry that's more common in concepts. The weirdest part, though, is a black panel on the side that is actually a display capable of greeting an approaching driver.

The future is weird.

Citroën

The inside is just as mind-warping. Even though it's capable of autonomy, the vehicle can still be driven by humans, and that's evident in the driver's seat, which is far more upright than the power-footrest lounger where the front passenger sits. In the back, two seats form an ersatz sofa. Instead of headrests, there's a flexible webbing meant to resemble a hammock. The use of color and material in the concept is second to none, with the seat material extending to the floors and headliner.

Since human drivers still factor into the 19_19 Concept's equation, there's some interesting tech just for the pilot. In addition to a retracting steering wheel with an animated display that stays still while the wheel turns around it, the windshield sports an augmented reality head-up display. But once it's time for the robots to take over, a lower part of the dashboard can act as a film projection screen for watching movies on a road trip. And, like so many other concepts, there's a digital assistant that features natural language processing and can ferry messages between specific passengers so as not to disturb others.

In addition to its 100-kilowatt-hour electric powertrain, enough for a 497-mile range, the Citroën 19_19 Concept also sports a unique hydraulic suspension system. Building upon the automaker's experience with butter-smooth suspension systems, it uses tech to read the road ahead and soften the suspension to absorb bumps. It's a clever bit of kit that uses components already present in Citroën's own road cars. The concept will make its in-person debut at the VivaTech show in Paris later this week.