Is This News Then?

It’s Linda Jackson again, CEO of Citroën. More half-baked ideas.

More fun for Citroen, with a new Mehari:
More fun for Citroen, with a new Mehari:

 In March we learned from Jackson that Citroëns are to be sold on style not price. Today’s news is that while planning to cut Citroën’s model ranges down to seven most important body-styles by 2020, one of them will be inspired by the Mehari, a less than practical 2CV variant with plastic cladding. Why? To make Citroën “fun”, says Jackson. So now we can add this to “style” as the main attractions of Citroën .

According to Jackson the idea is to have seven basic profiles, which she calls “silhouettes” from which variants will be spun. Does this mean that the cars will have the same outline but differ superficially depending on how much of a mismatch there is between the body openings and the graphics? Back to the “fun” part. Aren’t Citroën’s already supposed to be funky and light-hearted? If the current crop of cars are not fun enough one can only wonder what level of fun they need to get to so as to satisfy Jackson. Why aren’t Citroëns fun enough as they are? Will fun be a shared characteristic or something for only certain of the range? So many questions.

I’d say that adding fun to the cars is not done by having a Mehari-throwback but by making sure the controls are nice to use and the handling something most grown adults could enjoy if they wanted to. Throw in in a few more powerful engines and competent styling and there you go. Note that Ford has managed to make Foci and Fiestas fun without one single plastic-panelled variant.

Sometimes countries go off the rails because of pure bad luck. The wrong people sweep to power entirely legally and democratically and just can’t do the job. Citroën, with the cost cutter Tavares and style/fun Jackson seem to be people with the wrong ideas at the wrong time. Nothing they are saying is inspiring confidence.

I may be too literal. Perhaps Jackson’s idea is that if one of the seven silhouettes has a Mehari-type derivative then that might be a kind of halo car, radiating fun in the showroom. Is that what she meant?

While Peugeot seems to be doing alright, to judge from the sales figures, and Citroën might be selling cars right now, I don’t see the current products or the suggested future products having enough of an ID to secure them in another round of bad market conditions (around 2020, I expect) I am not asking for anything as idealistic as unusual suspension, merely that Citroën make some believable efforts to distinguish their products from everyone else offering a more-or-less-alright car for a more-or-less-acceptable amount of money.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

10 thoughts on “Is This News Then?”

  1. “It’s all about fun, innit? I mean if you can’t have a bit of a giggle, wozza sense? Like these new Citrens. There side-splittin!!! Doncha luvvem? Fart cushion seats for all the pasengers – oopsy, see those red faces!!! And the horn goes honk – like it just says “HONK”. Geddit? And they brought back that hydralic suspension too just like all those old geezers wanted but it works all the time. Up and Down and Up and Down as you drive along just like a bouncy castle until you PUKE!!! Hilarious. The kids’ll go barmy for it. And it talks to you …. and tells smutty jokes…. in a French accent!!!! Oooh La La!!!!!!!”

    My apologies. As a comment on the post below this one I lied, inadvertently. I said I didn’t care about Citroen’s fate. Actually, I can’t wait for it to die.

  2. Alas, yes, I agree. The brand´s as meaningless as Oldsmobile and Pontiac. There is no room for a third brand. Anyone of them could have gone without much of a loss but Citroen drew the short straw. Citroen won´t disappear entirely though as I think the DS project still has some time to run before it runs out of steam. But will people notice the DS brand is named for a Citroen model for which styling was a way to signal engineering innovation? I suspect not.

  3. If you have driven a current model C4 (the real one, not the Cactus, which is actually based on the C3) which must be one of the worst cars in its class, or C3 (kind-of-amusing 3 pot engine aside), then you’ll know that they are not at all fun. That is, not to look at (esp the C4), nor to drive. The C4 Picasso is a nice job to my eyes (no, it’s not a great drive), and the best car in the range is probably the C3 Picasso. I think that says it all. I just can’t see DS enduring as a project. I still care about the (Citroen) marque and what it has stood for having owned a number of its models (AX, Visa, 2CV, Xsara Picasso, C6), which is why I find these PR-driven “interviews” with their fatuous statements so sad and depressing.

  4. About two years ago I sat in a C4. There was nothing about it of any merit. My friend who had hired it and who works in the industry also had nothing to say. We gawked a bit at some sloppily attached trim and discussed the car no further. I recall being astonished when Car described as a “left-field” choice as if comparing three glasses of water and a glass of absinthe, when it truth it was just a fourth glass of water to choose from. I still haven´t got a good answer as to why Citroen don´t wake up and spend some time on dynamics. While most people don´t notice how good a Focus is to drive, the car has earned a reputation among interested people that has formed the opinions of those less interested. The same went for BMW decades ago. They appealed to taste makers and the rest followed. The argument that most people don´t care about certain qualities doesn´t mean nobody does. Opel trod the indifference path for a while and paid a heavy price. If any brand deserves the reputation for indifferent products, it´s Citroen followed to a large extent by Peugeot. Everyone else is offering something for the money.

  5. I just got a C5 today as a courtesy car. Actually, the suspension is quite OK for a steel sprung car. The whole thing feels a bit like our company Passats, just with a cramped rear bench. It’s about time they add some plastic planks on the doors to make it more fun to drive.

  6. The C5 is so dark inside, isn’t it? I found it oppressively enclosed. My XM feels like a cathedral in comparison.
    How are C5 sales? Has it done anything but alienate its customer base?

    1. You mean to tell me they’re actually for sale? My impression was always that they are for making the dealers’ showrooms look less empty. Maybe they sold some in France, I didn’t really notice when I was last there.

      Regarding the darkness, I think on the front seats it’s quite OK. As OK as any modern cocoon. Of course it’s not comparable to a C6 or a car from the last century.
      I once test drove a C5 estate with beige seats and light coloured interior trim. This didn’t feel dark, and with its HP suspension and 3-litre diesel was pleasant to drive. I didn’t test the rear seats, though (hardly ever use them), but from the looks I got the feeling that the 8 cm wheelbase difference between C5 and C6 is exactly in this area.

  7. Well done SImon! I have never ever seen a C5 with a light interior. I didn´t imagine they existed. In Denmark light interiors are a complete “no!” or “nej tak”.

  8. When I look at configurators of different brands, I see that Citroën are not that bad at offering interior options, especially compared to the Japanese. You have to go for the higher trim levels to have them available, though. Also here, few people order them.
    Whenever I look for a car, I normally go for the odd colour options inside and out which regularly rules out 80-90% of the available cars. I only ever had one car that was predominantly black inside: A CX turbo with the lovely black and grey checkered “VIP” velours seats.

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