Many moons ago, Toyota and Subaru (still arguing over who got there first) decided to combine some of the look - and a small amount of the ability - of a ‘proper’ 4WD and put it into a wagon-ish body.
Suzuki reckons it was first, taking Toyota to task in 2009 over an advertisement referencing the Rav4 as “the original compact SUV”.
Either way, the SUV, as we know it, was born. Since then, the look has become more important than anything else. That's why many carmakers now offer SUVs that are exclusively front-wheel-drive with virtually no off-road ability.
And now Citroen is the next carmaker to take the SUV craze in a new direction, with a city-sized hatch designed to look like an SUV - that isn’t an SUV.
Citroen calls it “personalising”, and says the SUV-inspired styling is designed to demonstrate the C1’s “go-anywhere looks” and “protective nature”.
It’s hard to achieve the look without raising the ride height however, so the Urban Ride is 15mm further from the ground than a regular C1, with a 10mm wider track.
There’s also plastic guards for the wheel arches and another for the front bumper, but the wheels and tyres appear to closely match the inner-city version.
Visitors to the Citroen stand at the Paris Motor Show will be asked to vote on whether they want the French carmaker to put the C1 Urban Ride into production - in both five-door and cabriolet versions.
The inner-Paris target market will almost certainly say ‘yes’, but whether that enthusiasm translates to sales or not is something for Citroen to consider.
Citroen will also have the regular C1 on display in Paris, as the new model was launched in France a few weeks ago following the official unveiling at this year’s Geneva show.
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