It might look like a stretched Peugeot 308 to you, but this was the finest PSA concept in years.
I’m somewhat amazed I’ve made it so far with this series. I’d expected hoards of irate Citroënistes burning effigies of me for having the nerve to make these (admittedly loose) connections, so either I’m on the right track or I should spend more time looking skywards for falling anvils.
There’s a strong argument to be made that the 1974 CX saloon (through no fault of its own) stylistically entombed the brand in a similar manner to that of the 1968 Jaguar XJ6. We expect Citroën’s and especially big Citroën’s to look a certain way now and no amount of fiddling with our perceptions can do much to shift it, much to Velizy’s chagrin.
So to continue our journey into the world of ‘what if’ here’s the latest in a lengthening line of concepts that to my eyes was the rightful recipient of a pair of chevrons. From its long nose/short tail proportions, its low-slung silhouette, its emphasis on interior ambience and passenger comfort, this concept oozes a pre-Jackson, pre-spun-off DS version of double chevron style.
Styled under the leadership of Per Selvaag, Peugeot’s then head of advanced design, Hx1 was intended not only to showcase the notion of a haute couture Peugeot flagship, but also to preview the marque’s forthcoming styling cues. A watered down (and shrunken) version would form the basis for the 2013 c-segment 308 model.
But despite the dramatic exterior, Hx1 was all about the cabin. In true show car fashion, what PSA described as imaginative uses of traditional materials were employed to convey a French take on automotive luxury. Slabs of pale oak formed part of the inner door structure, augmented by a warm fibreoptic glow, while Carrare marble embellished the rear compartment. The design team also incorporated a slatted headliner, allowing light and shade into the cabin.
The length and width of a Mercedes R-class, but only slightly taller than Peugeot’s contemporary RCZ coupé, Hx1 was very much a ‘haut de gamme’ saloon, if a decidedly low-slung one; HX1 rear passengers enjoying the same amount of legroom as a Maybach 63.
The fact that many of its styling cues were reprised on a slightly disappointing Golf-rivalling hatchback might dilute the case for Hx1 as viable big Citroën for some but removing the more obvious ‘Peugeot’ details leaves you with a car one could broadly (and easily) imagine replacing the late and under-appreciated C6. It certainly has the living hell beaten out of Citroën’s most recent big car concept, last year’s lamentable CXperience.
But it wasn’t today or yesterday PSA lost the run of themselves; let’s allow ourselves to look at what Citroën themselves were cooking up at the time. In 2010 they created the Metropolis concept, a three volume full sized luxury saloon styled at their Chinese studio; receiving its European début at the 2011 Geneva motor show. Now if I was to begin a series of articles titled “Cars that could have been Audi’s in a parallel universe”, this would feature prominently. Because take away the chevrons and what have you left?
Returning to Hx1, I viewed this car at the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed and was smitten. Not only the finest PSA concept car of recent years, it was amongst the most impressive I’ve seen, regardless of make. My immediate thought at the time was that it should have been a Citroën, raising an obvious question. Either PSA really haven’t got a clue, or I don’t. Over to you…