Sufficient time has elapsed now for Citroen to admit to making the CX.
Make that 25 years in the dog house before they could bear to put the name, or something like it, on their latest concept car, the Cxperience. Thancx, Citroen. Extrapolating from this we may have the Xmination concept car in 2026. The car is showcasing the drivetrain and not the appearance. We’ll see what others have to say about the oily/electrical bits first.
Digital Trends explains the car’s technology: “The CXperience uses a plug-in hybrid drivetrain made up of a gasoline-burning engine that provides anywhere between 150 and 200 horsepower and a compact electric motor. The motor draws electricity from a 3kWh battery pack to power the concept by itself for up to 40 miles. When the engine kicks in, the hybrid drivetrain delivers up to 300 horsepower through an eight-speed automatic transmission. “
Motor Authority prefers to explain it like this: “The powertrain of the Cxperience concept combines a small gasoline engine with an electric motor and has a peak output of about 272 horsepower. The gas engine is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and drives the front wheels, while the electric motor drives the rear wheels helping to create a “through-the-road” hybrid all-wheel-drive system. A 3.0-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery provides about 37 miles of electric range.”
Let’s carry on and…
…take a look inside. The interior is dominated by huge sofa-like seats, an unmanufacturable wood-and-fabric dashboard and a very wide, slim screen ahead of the driver. The screen does everything that some plastic buttons used to do. I am not optimistic about how that will work in reality. The publicity material says that the screen can be set up to show driver-information on one side and other visual material on the other e.g an exciting film for the passenger to watch. As is to be expected the car is fully connected to everything: iPhones and tablets, so passengers can also interact with the car using those. What will they do though? Send an email to wind up the windows?
I’d rather discuss the colour and materials. The mustard yellow and wood is a retro touch if you call 1992 retro. I think the designers are being inspired by 1990s Roche Bobois furniture. Car and Driver call it “almost Scandinavian simplicity”. I am not so sure it’s cold or simple enough for that. It’s very sculptural and contains odd mixes of the curved and the angular. It’s clearly an interior that says nothing at all about what Citroen will do and there’s nothing here that can be turned into something one can make in volume. Citroen should ask their designers to think of an interior that is properly original but also makeable and then make it and sell it. They aren’t going to get very far trying to mimic Ford, Opel and the other mainstream marques as they are now. Nor will they get far with this plainly hypothetical design work.
What does Citroen have to say about suspension, long their USP? Autocar reported this: “Citroën’s Advanced Comfort programme was revealed exclusively to Autocar earlier this year. It includes an overhaul of the brand’s suspension system and also focuses on filtering out external noise and vibration and addressing seat comfort.” That doesn’t say anything directly about the Cxperience. And none of the other sources had any suspension news either. McPhersons all around, then.
The exterior has some interesting bits and the usual Citroen concept car elements that indicate haste. I can see a nod to the DS and XM with the floating roof. The interruption of the c-pillar is not needed. Graphically it would have been better had the roof “remnant” carried on around the trailing edge and not gone down to nearly but not quite meet the boot. In a sense the roof is a hold-over, a vestigial thing. When the floating roof, interrupted C-pillar schtick and moonroof all collide there’s not much roof left to play with, is there?
The wheel arches formally nod to previous Citroen themes without being useful and I doubt any of that will get to a showroom.
What can we extract from this? Possibly the package and the profile. Little else really. The car’s profile is not very sleek despite the vehicle’s low height. The XM and CX were pointier while the DS5 is not pointy at all. Which reminds me, what about the DS line? Where does this car come in to all that? It’s the same size as a C5 and raids the same cache of references as the DS line does sometimes. It doesn’t seem to suggest it will be any less expensive than the DS line. Perhaps the main indicator it’s a Citroen and not a DS is that it’s a bit more minimal and simpler of surface. The DS cars are getting on for being ultrabaroque. Mercifully we hear little of them now.
Being positive, I think this is Citroen’s nicest concept car in a decade. As with all of their cars it’s flawed and hurried looking. Being critical, like the concepts from Cadillac, it’s yet another crying of wolf. Nobody believes any visual aspect of this car will make it to production, inside or out. Citroen would not lose a single extra Euro on a large car if it looked as distinctive as this one but they would gain credit for pushing the boat out (assuming it was well-made enough). I think they ought make a properly original design – it can’t be less successful than the derivative products they already churn out.
When the concept cars are so unrelated to the production cars, it’s hard not to view this with cynicism.
How often have I written that before?
[Top Gear had some troubles with the car’s name: “But first, yes, what about that name? Citroen Cxperience. Or ‘CXPERIENCE’, as Citroën would rather we shouted. How to pronounce it, we wonder? ‘See-experience?” “Six-perience”?” Why didn’t someone just tell the guy its’s so simple that an explanation is futile.
It wouldn’t be Top Gear if the word “mad” wasn’t attached to the article. TG tagged it a “mad concept car”, naturally. If Citroen were to serve a glass of water in a plastic cup it would be “Citroen’s insane beverage”, I expect. Is the Cxperience mad? How mad is it really? It has some fancy doors, an unmakeable interior, the usual camera-for-rear-mirrors and seats that will never be produced in series. All of this is par for the course in concept cars so in every possible way it is entirely orthodox. It would be mad if there came with the car a signed promise by the board of PSA to make this exact vehicle, as shown. Top Gear has become the car world’s equivalent of Colin Hunt, hasn’t it?]