Shanghai Motor Show preview: Citroën Wild Rubis concept is a refined animal

Citroën is going wild at this year’s Shanghai Motor Show, literally. The French carmaker plans to show a crossover concept called the Wild Rubis that will give the brand a more premium feel.

The styling definitely makes a bold statement, even for a company known for out-there designs like the DS and CX. The giant chrome grille, which spears into some alien-looking headlights, makes the Wild Rubis look like a swaggering American SUV.

There’s also an interesting mix of curvy sheet metal and straight edges defining the roof. What appear to be rails for a roof rack are integrated into the sides of the car, framing the side and rear windows.

The designers didn’t go too wild with the Wild Rubis and Citroën says it is close to being production-ready. If it does enter production, the Wild Rubis will compete with small luxury crossovers like the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.

That explains why the Wild Rubis wears “DS” badges instead of the Citroën chevrons. Citroën reserves the DS badge for more stylish versions of its regular cars, including the lovely DS3 Racing.

In the future, Citroën also wants to add content to these models, turning DS into an upscale sub-brand. It could be like Citroën’s version of Lincoln, only with fewer identity crises.

The Wild Rubis will be the first step in that direction; it will be sold exclusively as a DS in China.

Premium pretensions aside, the Wild Rubis is still a Citroën. It’s based on the new modular EMP2 platform that will underpin other Citroën and Peugeot models.

The new crossover is also designed to accommodate a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Citroën will also sell it with the diesel-electric HYbrid4 powertrain found in sister brand Peugeot’s 3008 and 508.

No word yet on whether Citroën will deploy the compressed air hybrid system it unveiled back in January in the Wild Rubis. The crossover will probably beat this experimental tech to market.

Citroën plans to exhibit the Wild Rubis at the 2013 Shanghai Motor Show later this month and put it on sale in Europe and China by the end of the year.

Is this concept car too wild – or not wild enough? Tell us in the comments.