A Photo For Sunday: 2007 Citroen C6

One sunny morning during the Easter period I spied this with my little eye.

2007 Citroen C6 lamp
2007 Citroen C6 lamp: instantly recognisable

There was not much time to stand and really take the car in. I had a six-year old waiting exasperatedly in my car. What I did notice was that the interior was better than I remembered it. Journalists wrote disparagingly about the centre console carried over from the Peugeot 407 but as I can never recall that car’s interior, the duplication does not strike me. It would have mattered if it had been a 406 as I have that interior engraved on my mental screen. This 2007 car had the beige leather and so looked nicely spacious and, indeed, seemed to be bearing up well which is unusual for cars in Dublin. The climate, the roads, the indifference of Irish owners to tidiness all grind cars to scrap in a way one seldom sees in more civilised corners of this wonderful continent of ours.

2007 Citroen C6 in Dublin
2007 Citroen C6 in Dublin, Ireland.

Despite all that follows, I have warmed to the car and I know we have a few happy owners of a similar vehicles among our little community at DTW. In today’s world of over-design and conformity, the C6 is now decidedly a more interesting proposition, much like the Lancia Thesis with which it has much in common. That said, when it came out the C6 disappointed me and some of those grounds for disappointment still remain.

The rear lamps are original, yes. However, in the process of balancing form and production convenience I feel the latter is all too apparent. The rear bumper is simply huge, surely the biggest single lump of plastic ever attached to a car. I love clever efficiency that looks good. This is clever efficiency that doesn’t. I think we are supposed to see a subtle formal shift (in Bill Porter’s immortal phrasing) from the angle of the bumper-to-body panel gap to the trailing edge of the rear door to the leading edge of the rear door. I don’t buy it. Then again, on the street you don’t notice. You notice the baroque richness of the car.

2007 Citroen C6 in Dublin. I am still not happy with those lamps.
2007 Citroen C6 in Dublin. I am still not happy with those lamps.

Yes, still unhappy with the lamps. It’s the same as the rear. The bumper-to-body panel gap is driving the form and the lower outboard line looks hokey as it goes around to the front. The lamps look okay from the side but in three-quarter view they are ill-resolved. They needed to be more horizontal or more vertical.

2007 Citroen C6
2007 Citroen C6

The rear works best, mostly because it’s so unlike anything else. The licence plate surround is pure Audi A6 from 1999.

After all this time, the C6 now feels right. There aren’t any cars that major on comfort. Design has moved on so what looked like a derivative mix of Audi and 70’s Citroen now looks more clearly, idiosyncratically itself. I can fully understand why people might want one and it’s a bit sad more people did not want one.

Simultaneously, I think Citroen got this car wrong in the same way Lancia did. They needed this car to be more about Citroen’s suspension and less about trying to match the luxuries offered by Mercedes and Audi. It was too big and too costly. We won’t see its like again.

Author: richard herriott

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

9 thoughts on “A Photo For Sunday: 2007 Citroen C6”

  1. That reg tells us that it’s not actually an Irish car but imported sometime before January 2014 most probably from the UK. Maybe that’s why it’s in such good nick. I agree it looks great from the rear but I quite liked the headlamps. For sure we won’t see it’s like again.

    1. That’s interesting. How can you tell it’s an import?
      The headlamps are really problematic for me. They obviously wanted to avoid oblongs and had lots of surrounding lines to work with. The result is an indistinct form. Redesigning it would involve a lot of other changes.

    2. There were only about 80000 cars registered new in Dublin in 2007 so every number higher than that was imported after the year end. (This was changed in 2014 so now imported cars start at the number 120000. Therefore it’s now much easier to spot an import). Re the headlamps: I hadn’t looked as closely at them as you did, but I loved how they seemed to accentuate the kind of “lozenge” look that appealed to me in this car.

  2. The headlamps are really beautiful in full frontal view. It’s one of the rare cases where they don’t have an oblong shape, but look almost square. But their wrapping over to the side is not very fortunate, I agree. The bottom side line has an unnatural kink towards the front end.
    Many people don’t like the rear lights. I have slowly grown fond of them, although I’d still prefer a somewhat simpler shape. The side part has too many different angles and curves.
    Now the bumper shutlines can be debated. While they divide what naturally should be one part, I like the way they are consistently prolonging the edge of a lamp. And to be frank, since we went away from the horizontally delimited bumpers, we have seen so many arbitrarily drawn lines that the conscious prominence of the C6’s lines is for me a good example of how to handle this.

    Why didn’t people buy it? Apart from the difficulty to get prospective luxury buyers in a car dealership cluttered with C3s and C1s, they did get some things wrong. I don’t think that ofering luxuries is one of them. After all, a comfortable suspension and a cosy and warm interior are the most luxurious things you can get, aren’t they? The problem lies in the obvious cost-cutting in some too visible places: the cheap plastic central armrest, the creaking electrical side mirrors, the tinny bootlid, and many more. Add to this some ergonomical flaws that, after three years, still bother me from time to time. I didn’t have that with the CX which was reputed very badly for its controls because you had to re-learn everything when coming from a standard car (but once you’ve un-learned column stalks and non-centering steerings…).

    What the C6 lacked most, however, was an adequate drivetrain. The petrol engine lacked power and was not very refined when pushed a little beyond just rolling along. The diesel was merely sufficient in its last evolution, but not everyone likes those oil burners.

    1. I should be more precise about luxury and comfort. The C6 didn´t have to have a lot of complexity to be comfortable. I was trying to suggest that what mattered was the interior quality and comfort and the ride quality, less so the toys and gadgets.

    2. It’s true that Citroën was always about comfort without necessarily being luxurious. The CX and XM in their simpler versions are an example for this. The C6 was positioned a bit differently, as these variants basically were absent.

      However, it didn’t live up to the pure luxury (or gadgetry) claims, either. While at its debut, there were some novel things like DRLs, lane departure warning or a head-up display, an up-to-date infotainment system was missing. What was worse, it didn’t benefit of any further development. What was cutting-edge in 2005, became outdated by 2012. Things like adaptive cruise control, ventilated seats or blind spot monitors never found their way into the C6.

      My impression is that PSA should have done more in this respect. It seems impossible to sell a large car without these features today. And while I enjoy the pure Citroën feeling also in a less equipped car, I admit that I have grown fond e.g. of the HUD, and I would certainly enjoy ACC on my motorway commute.

  3. I agree with all of Simon’s comments, especially the penny-pinching in many areas, albeit that the most glaring reasons for the C6’s failure don’t get a mention – it was way too expensive for a car with the wrong kind of badge.

    Picking up on this point, I have been reflecting on the whole Citroen – DS separation thing over the Easter break. Whilst I have not – in the round – changed my mind, I can increasingly understand that it is a case of practicalities over principles. Citroen’s back-catalogue is irreconcilable in today’s context. Too few people really remember, let alone appreciate, the thread of innovation that runs through it cars from 2CV through to the BX (I draw the line there because the innovation became more sporadic thereafter, and, with that, I have the XM in mind). Even the specialist mechanic who (frequently) mends my C6 finds it incredible that the same company that built the DS can have created cars such as the Ami (pointing to the almost paper-thin construction of the wings on the latter). So, there is some practical logic in separating out DS from “other” Citroens. It’s just that what is currently being put forward as DS, is so lamentably disconnected from what is so loved and respected by, what is now, too few.

    1. Neither have I… But I drive a lot with cruise control, and when I have someone in front of me with basically the same speed, but constantly going up and down by a few km/h, I imagine ACC to be a very helpful feature.

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