Citroën will unveil a so-called ‘soft road’ version of its popular C3 hatchback at the Geneva motor show in March.

Similar in concept to MG Rover’s 45-based Streetwise models, the C3 X-TR has raised suspension, underbody protection, extended bumpers, side sills and wheel arch extensions and an innovative roof rack system, while extra traction in slippery conditions is provided by an electronic limited slip differential.

“The C3 X-TR is designed to provide owners with a more versatile and flexible vehicle for their leisure pursuits without the cost of going for a full 4WD car,” a spokesman said. “The 30mm rise in suspension height provides both ground clearance and the high seating position that many drivers find useful, whether driving in the countryside or hunting for a parking place in the middle of Paris.”

Options include 185/65 multi-surface tyres and electronic stability control and traction control.

The roof rails have the cross bars to make the roof rack hidden in their length, which means that when not required they are concealed and do not have to be stored separately from the roof rails.

A package of equipment specifically designed for the needs of owners with children is standard in the C3 XT-R. This includes fold down rear picnic trays in the backs of the front seats, a special panoramic rear view mirror and a pair of extra power sockets for video games and toys.