Citro├źn has sent itself on a bit of a retro-future trip with its Tubik concept, a 9-person "executive shuttle" concept shown for the first time at today's Frankfurt Motor Show.

The van goes along with Citro├źn's Multicity project, an intermodal route planner that's up and running in France. Having an online route planer that integrates cars, planes, and trains is certainly a good thing, but an accompanying space pod van concept gives a bit of je ne sais quoi that only Citro├źn can provide.

Like every other van concept since the dawn of time, the Tubik features a wraparound lounge-style interior and a variety of techy entertainment systems. The traditional fare of modular seats, screens, and surround sound are given the Citro├źn touch, and by that I mean they look bizarre. If just having a madcap cabin isn't sufficiently quirky, you step in through a massive door that swings the whole side of the vehicle open. This might seem like an inconvenience in a crowded Ikea parking lot, but it would be supremely useful when fleeing from Martians with Flash Gordon in tow. We're happy that Citro├źn is meeting the challenging design requirements of intergalactic adventuring.

Strange as the passenger compartment may be, nowhere do you see more of the trademark Citro├źn weirdness than from the driver's seat, which is tied in with the steering wheel, the pedals, and the Tubik's head-up display screen. Citro├źn decided to call the whole assembly the "cyclotron," because apparently piloting a land-bound aluminum van that looks like a starship is not enough to make you feel like you're in a sci-fi movie.

Not only does the Tubik have room for a full intergalactic flight crew, but it should help you keep the impression of space flight with Citro├źn's super smooth Hydractive suspension. Citro├źn also seems dead set on keeping the trials and tribulations of 21st road travel out of the Tubik with its diesel-hybrid "Hybrid 4" drivetrain. You should no more need to pull into a gas station and mingle with the earthlings than you would in an ordinary family car, even though you're driving a 4.80m (15.8ft) long 9-seater van, claims Citro├źn.

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As a production concept, it's hard to say if the Tubik's design brief is sound. The world may not be ready for a Web 2.0 Syd Mead-style van designed to accommodate large groups of friends and extended families. Regardless of its questionable business sense, the world needs more hyperspace age versions of Type H vans, if only to drive our dreams around in.