If There Could Be a Sign, if There Could Be A Sign

We have a chance here to examine the implications and otherwise of Citroën’s announcement about a forthcoming large saloon.

Citroen CXperience concept. Image: tf1.fr

Our good friends at Autocropley reported this the day before yesterday but the message only turned up in my in-box yesterday. I opened the link with trembling fingers. First, there will be a new flagship saloon which Citroën would like us to see as “distinctive”. In line with Citroën’s current self-identity, the car should be laden with technology and be a design that is comfort led. Making this possible is the Chinese market where saloons still thrive.

We should see the car in 2019 or 2020 which means they are working on it now. And should someone from Citroën chance upon this article, please ensure the car has a decent ashtray and manual transmission plus a properly large boot. Linda Jackson, reports Autocropley, says the car will bring “something different” to the class. Now different can be good and different can be bad – ask Renault who had their beret burned with the Avantime and Vel Satis. And indeed Citroën themselves have had a tough time attracting customer for cars lacking a propeller, a star or four rings.

Jackson also says the car will not be burdened with chrome, leather or wood. I am particularly happy about the deletion of leather. So, Citroën, make sure the fabrics are really lush. The wood is no loss. I am not sure about the chrome. How about making it optional? Some people like it and some don’t. I don’t think a one-size fits all approach to brightwork is anything other than a form of rigidity.

Here’s a few of Citroen’s earlier cars. Recognise them?  Image: fotki

The reference car is the C-xperience, a low and long -nosed car – not uniquely Citroën and not unlike the formula for any kind of a dramatic saloon. One hopes the car will not have a mock-rear-wheel-drive appearance for it is a certainty it’ll be front-wheel-drive. Although it’s Citroën’s intended range topper its targets are middle market cars from Ford, Opel and VW: the Mondeo, Insignia and Passat.

In one way, that makes sense as these cars are plenty large and similar in their approach. On the other hand, it shows Citroën doesn’t expect prospective buyers of the Munich, Ingolstadt and Stuttgart alternatives will give it much consideration.

Will Citroen make a car more desirable than this? (BMW UK)

While the report notes that Citroën will be applying their Advanced Comfort philosophy it says nothing about the drivetrain. I would contend that it would make sense to dump internal combustion engines at this point and make it electric: that would gel well with notions of quiet refinement and perhaps give the car something of a USP that is in line with trends and Citroën’s historical taste for innovation. Yes, electric motors are not new but they are a bit more advanced than a smelly lump burning refined oil.

1000 units a year at the end. Image: Parkers

Lastly, steering: this is a chance for Citroën to give their car precise, accurate and sharp steering. If Citroën can ensure the car is a delight to drive and looks convincingly thought through, it might be a vehicle worthy of the double melted chevrons. Of some concern is the extent to which the car will be affected by Chinese-market preferences. Will it look busy or calm? Will be be available in something other than black or grey?

Driven to Write has a go at reimagining the big Citroën

Author: richard herriott

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

13 thoughts on “If There Could Be a Sign, if There Could Be A Sign”

  1. The quadratic equation they have to square is to have a French President’s conveyance à la C6 and something to attract the Chinese.

    Electric would definitely be better on both fronts.

    No one will care about steering precision, but the ashtrays will have to be an option for China.

    That’s a dreadful back end.

    1. Not many care about steering precision, I agree. Some do – lead consumers – and if you can lure them others may follow. Also, steering precision isn’t a costly feature to build in so why wouldn’t they want it. Such a quality has kept Ford’s medium family car, the Focus, a consistent nose ahead of the Astra.

    2. Fine, Richard, if sharp steering’s easy and cheap.
      Many will be chauffeur-driven in the francophone world — France’s African ex-colonies and their DOM-TOMs etc — where the passengers won’t care diddly how pleasant it is drive.

      As for the electric end, there’s an opening for someone to have a two-range option, with a simple slide-out short-range, quick-charge battery, and a bigger long-range one for those pesky longer trips where there aren’t adoring (faked) crowds lining the entire route.

      btw, you wanted a small portable photo printer. My pharmacist uses a v slim device called “plustech MobileOffice D30”, which does up to A4. Several hundred euros, though. Hers is wired to a computer, but it looks connectable to other sources.

  2. It is not just about the hardware (although this Citroen will probably be based on the stretched underpinnings of a 15 year old small hatchback platform, so will be compromised from the off).

    Ford spend a lot of time and effort on calibration. So do VW and BMW. A large part of the premium on a Porsche goes on the calibration.

    Do Citroen have the commitment to test their new models over thousands and thousands of miles on a wide range of roads, getting each component set up just so? I doubt it.

  3. We should ban posting photos of DSs, CXs and SMs on articles about new or incoming Citroen. All it does is to highlight what we are missing and also just how far the marque has been neutered by PSA. That monochrome photo of those DSs all lined up (in a showroom?) is a lovely thing in itself. The C6 pictured looks good in isolation, but oh-so-heavy and derivative when viewed in the same blink-frame as the DS (the new 5 series really is doughy, isn’t it – how they miss Bangle’s influence). I have nothing to say about the new/ incoming Citroen mentioned (on the basis that my Mum often tells me that if I can’t find anything nice to say then it’s much better to say nothing at all …)

  4. IIRC, Citroen already have a “new” C5 on sale in China, a rebodied Dongfeng saloon, Dongfeng being their Chinese JV partner.

    1. In China, Citroen is offering the last C5 with a fresh facelift and an ugly Dongfeng C6, both without hydropneumatic suspension. So it is not easy to see the place for this new C6 in China. Above this chinese C6? This would be very ambitious – just because PSA has no (non electrical) engines for such a luxury car…

      In France they are expecting the new 508 / 508 break as a 4,75m rival for the Audi A4, the DS8 as a 4,85m A5-rival and the new C6 with 4,95m as ahh ahh ..just the new big Citroen…

      Concerning the new 508, i have no doubt it will be a car with fun to drive. Carlos Tavares is a former race-driver, he knows how such a car has to feel. It was reported that he himself did most of the testing miles for his first project at Renault, the very first Renault Megane RS.

    2. Markus: thanks for that. The C5 facelift is not that bad, but not worth the trouble either. The C6 thing is just that, a really indeterminate creature of no especial merit at all. Why the hell didn´t they dumb down the actual C6 – that could not have been worse than the mediocrity that is the China-market C6. Would I be right in guessing that the proposed C6 will replace the exisiting C6? I shall read up on the 508 – it´d be nice to think it´s fun to drive but I won´t get my hopes up. Autoexpress said this ” The all-new 2018 Peugeot 508 has been snapped testing by our spy photographers for the first time, revealing how Peugeot is plotting a more style-focused new generation saloon in a bid to rival premium offerings such as the BMW 3 Series and the new Volkswagen Arteon.” I seem to remember the last car being touted as more premium. I wish they´d make them as good to drive and durable as the 406.

  5. The bigger saloon market is tanking fast; Ford will be lucky to shift 60,000 Mondeos in Europe this year. So flouting logic in that peculiarly Gallic way, Citroen is about to introduce one at great cost and not a lot of hope that the investment is justified. People want butch hatchbacks on stilts, whether we enthusiasts like it or not.

    Therefore my suggestion to Citroen is to ensure they include hydropneumatic suspension with a special 300 mm ground clearance mode, for that special crossover look.

    Otherwise this new vehicle is as irrelevant as the others in today’s worldwide market. I mean, for example, Land Rover versus Jaguar saloons – who’s doing the serious selling?

    1. In all likelihood the European sales will be a bonus after the bulk of sales in China. Will it be even made in Europe?
      Would it be true to say that the period where most main-stream cars had some driver appeal has passed us by?
      Do SUV and CUV drivers care?

    2. Yes, the saloon market has deep-seated problems outside the “prestige” class. We aren´t a car sales website so I have to defer to the hardworking Mr Bart Demant about the details. I would guess even the German trio are not counting on 3s, 5s etc to keep on doing the heavy lifting work for long. And I would guess carsalesbase has discussed the figures already. That said (one of my favourite phrases), Citroen probably can count on enough combined Chinese and EU sales to make this a goer. On its own, the EU market wouldn´t justify this.

  6. I hope this spells the end for the embarrassing and pointless DS brand which fools no one with its loathsome blingy logo. Bring me a translucent roof and some pale pastel shiny plastic and a single spoke wheel with a rim that looks like its been wound with washing line and I might come back.

    1. Hello Peter:
      I am afraid that PSA have no intention of producing a car as far advanced as DS. Would some rubbery bumps on the doors be an acceptable alternative… oh, hang on, they are gone too.

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