Is DS going to be blackballed?
Although I’ve never been a club sort of person, for various reasons I’ve been an on-off member of the British “Citroën Car Club” for many years. It’s a long-established and still apparently healthy club, with a well-produced magazine. When I first received ‘The Citroënian’ they were coming to terms with the aftermath of the Peugeot takeover and were introducing a column for the newly released Visa, a car not without merits and character but, like the stop gap LN/A before it, based on the Peugeot 104. Since then, a host of PSA derived models have joined to rub shoulders with the quintessential Traction Avant and Déesse. The Club even dutifully launched a column for the featureless blob that was the Xsara and, basically, if it’s got chevrons on the front, it gets written about.
Now, however, they find themselves in a quandary. With DS becoming a stand-alone brand, despite employing the initials that mean so much to any true Citroëniste, they’re not really Citroën’s any more are they? The Club is said to be considering this carefully, and I would see their reasons. If they accept the new brand, why not bring in Peugeot too? If they reject it, will they be left with just the bargain basement boxes that future Citroëns might become?
The whole business highlights the fatuousness of ‘brand’. People who were, in some cases, fanatically faithful to anything called ‘Citroën’, irrespective of how mundane it actually was, will now be confronted with a selection of cars that, since they have a different name, they have no reason to feel loyal to.
And is the ‘success’of the DS brand real? In Europe it seems to be based entirely on the success of the DS3, a cost-effective MINI alternative, and it might be argued that this car would have been just as popular if it had been called the Citroën C3 Sport. You can draw parallels with both MINI and 500, but in both these cases they have actually played off the shape of the original car that names them. So far, Citroën/DS at least get my respect for not tarting up a C5 in retro Déesse drag, but when the time comes to replace the DS3, what cues will they use to ensure continuity? I can already imagine talk of “The DS3’s iconic shark’s fin”, but it will mean nothing to anyone outside PSA.
Citroën seem to be totally enamoured with brand experts Landor who, with a mixture of good sense and utter bullshit, do seem to have given them more confidence in themselves. But is that confidence justified and, aside from Citroën and Landor, who else really cares? I find Citroën’s golden years fascinating, and I’m fond of my own Citroën. There are even post takeover Citroëns I respect too. But really I don’t give a toss about the brand any more.