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Citroen’s funky, futuristic Aircross concept is just the right type of weird

In the game of automotive word association, French automaker Citroen is often followed by terms like ‘eccentric,’ ‘offbeat,’ and sometimes just plain ‘weird.’

For proof, look no further than the C4 Cactus crossover, a five-door family car with cartoon-like lines and textured patches called ‘Airbumps’ all over the exterior. They’re not just for looks though, as the thermoplastic, air-filled capsules look to reduce damage from everyday bumps and scrapes. They also give the car a unique, oddly distinguished appearance, almost like a tweed jacket with elbow patches or an old Woodie wagon.

Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus

At the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show, Citroen debuted the Cactus-based Aircross concept, which gives the hatchback a new, ultra-modern look.

And though the vehicle doesn’t directly preview a production model, it is a sneak peak at an upcoming family of SUVs. The concept also gives us a glimpse at the brand’s future design ethos, which as it has been historically, is quite bold.

Related: PSA Peugeot Citroen nixes hybrid air powertrain

In the Aircross, the Cactus’ Airbumps have morphed into something called ‘Alloy Bumps,’ which are essentially honeycomb aluminum castings surrounded by durable rubber. The car also wears ‘Air Signs’ — chrome window surrounds, more or less — and ‘Air Curtains,’ which enhance aerodynamics and engine air intake.

Inside, the cabin has been designed to encourage communication between passengers, as each seat features its own microphone and speaker. Dual 12-inch HD screens continue to highlight the cockpit, one of which can actually be removed and passed from passenger to passenger.

Furthering the tech-forward theme, the Aircross equips a plug-in hybrid powertrain, one that includes a front-mounted gasoline engine and rear-mounted electric motor. Total output is 313 horsepower and 351 pound-feet of torque, which results in a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.5 seconds and an eye-opening fuel economy rating of 138.2 mpg.

Clearly, the Aircross is an ambitious design exercise, with at least some relevance to the future of the Citroen brand. Do you prefer the concept’s futuristic look, or do the aesthetic themes of the Cactus suit your fancy? Let us know in the comments.