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.

14 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.

  4. Comparisons with Audi are very appropriate. C6’s designer (M.Ploué) also takes the credit for the ’99 A6.

    I had a very low mileage model from 2015-2017 and was rarely impressed with the ride. That said, I think the suspension settings needed more intel lavished on it than my nearest main dealer disposed of, and I am again hoping to buy another one.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Padriag. You will find we have covered the C6 pretty extensively here if you browse the archive.

      Regarding its design, we have it on the authority of former senior Citroen designer, Dan Abramson, that the C6 was pretty much complete by the time Jean-Pierre Ploué arrived at Vélizy. The styling was, according to Abramson, mostly the work of Mark Pinson, with some input from himself, and one imagines, other members of the styling team.

      The Audi C6’s design is I believe, attributed to Claus Potthoff.

  5. The concept … the word … “luxury” evokes different emotions and expectations. Should it be the trim? The look and feel? The ability to “press a button,” a plethora of gizmos? … and many other variations. My attraction to Citroen has always been a more subtle attraction, and I suppose, a bending of the concept. I have not driven a C6, but I have owned and operated many other earlier models, DS, CX, GS, C5, Xantia (Activa) and my magnetism to the marque is perhaps best explained by the way these cars respond to your touch and your senses.

    Your “driving” is more like a caressing of the controls, and the car responds …and more so to gentle and subtle commands than wrestling (as you do in a sports car, which has its own pleasures). The ergonomics, the way the A pillar is situated in the blind spot, the curve of the bonnet that makes the road appear in front of you (with no “aiming mascot”).

    *Turning headlights* is a prime contender… it isn’t luxurious in the traditional sense, but it sure makes an impression of how you pilot a car.

    And, to be sure, if the ride is Citroen-esq, the noise is heavily damped (wind noise from the DS was always the bugbear), the controls fall at your fingers, the seats cosset you, the steering is pin point, the road poise is gratifying, the brakes exceptional …. then I feel “luxurious” in ways that walnut burr never can supply.

    The GS was a wonderful car to drive, but woeful in areas like “air” and ventilation…and the lack of around town power. Bt the feel of driving the car was always rewarding.

    I guess the “other” Citroens (2CV et al) have never appealed on that psychological and tactile level, although they have their own ways of titivating the senses.

    I suspect that the C6, even without “trim or gizmos” would evoke that mental space, and I guess “luxury” is not really the overarching concept.

    In my DTW post, I used the term “Citroen DNA” and that relates to the concepts I have outlined.
    Whilst I’m sure other cars have good cruise control too, the set up in my C5 makes for relaxed and accurate driving. Again nothing luxurious, but all a part of making for a very superior driving experience.

    So I’m hypothesising that the C6 encapsulates a great deal of Citroen DNA, and that “luxury” isn’t the most appropriate, or dominant characteristic. Personally I agree more with those who find the aesthetics a mix of grace and … lack thereof … and that has often been the case with Citroen. I always found the rear eyebrow tail lights on the S2 C5s really ugly, but they are superb cars.

    The allure of “real” Citroens isn’t best characterised by luxury, perhaps partly the design quirks (that often change in receptivity over time), but the overall way that you feel when you are “at one” with driving a model that has the DNA pedigree.

    And I share the impression that we may not see this in the future, although some glimmering is starting to tantalise we diehards.

  6. Many thanks for the correction ref Ploué.

    I did get another c6, this time the 3.0i. This one has been properly maintained and the suspension is worlds apart from my previous (2.7hdi) model (RL autos take a bow). I’m v pleased so far. The petrol is not the creamy unit it should be but I’ll live with it.

    General question. Owners of cars with sequential automatic transmissions: do you shift? I do. I always prefer to shift up than wait for the computer to figure it out.

    1. Congratulations for your unorthodox (and, in my opinion, underrated) choice! I drive the same car with the petrol engine. Yes, I do sometimes miss the eagerness of the same unit in the much lighter and manually shifted Xantia, but on the other hand the drivetrain and the soft suspension imply a very calming driving style, a relaxing experience on every journey. And still, if I really want to push it, it reaches astonishing speeds on alpine pass roads.

      As for the shifting, I don’t use that option often. I sometimes have it in manual in the mountains where I want to keep a certain rev level without resorting to the stupid ‘sport’ setting of the gearbox. It’s also quite handy for shifting down to use the motor brake downhill. And then I usually use the manual mode (without shifting!) to keep it in 6th gear when using cruise control on highways. Otherwise it has the annoying tendency to shift down two gears when resuming speed just seconds before the target value is reached.

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