Here we go again: Citroën. New D-segment saloon. Dramatic new design. Ah, nice to see you again Dr. Pavlov.
At this week’s Automotive News World Congress in Turin, Richard Meyer, head of future products for Citroën reportedly spoke of the double chevron’s forthcoming D-segment saloon. Alluding to its “dramatic new design” Meyer told delegates, “The sedan will remain key in the automotive world, but Citroën wants to give a different expectation.” [I think the word he was searching for here was expression, but that’s not important right now…] Continuing, he concluded, “We will have a very specific and unique answer.”
Now I suspect (as indeed you might) that Mr. Meyer, aside from his imperfect grasp of English, most likely enjoys a similarly tenuous grasp of drama. Or to put it another way, haven’t we head all this before?
Like any sector of the market that isn’t wholly represented by CUVs or their ilk, the European D-segment is not in rude health, with sales across the region falling 12% last year to 564,246 according to figures supplied by JATO Dynamics. Yet PSA it appears, remains committed to saloons, having launched the Peugeot 508 in saloon form earlier this year and as an attractive looking estate earlier this week.
Last year, Citroën CEO Linda Jackson told journalists, “Between C and D [segments] there is still an opportunity in China and in Europe,” but emphasised that any such double chevron model needed to hold appeal for both regions.
Following the end of C5 production at Rennes last year, Citroën is currently unrepresented in the European D-sector – a situation which (as we know) rarely bodes well. In China however, the model currently remains in production at the joint Dongfeng/PSA plant in Wuhan. Following something of a torrid period, sales have rebounded to an extent, with year to April deliveries up 4% on the same period last year, according to PSA sources.
Given the distance not only in kilometres, but in taste and expectations between Blois and Beijing, to say nothing of Bury, how is it possible to reconcile these opposing imperatives? The only realistic or palatable recipe is for fudge.
We already know it’s not going to be the car we want it to be. Having been trapped in a circular loop of hope and despair for decades, Linda and her elves are the least likely people to break the cycle. After all, marketing will only take you so far in life. You can tell us until you’re blue in the face that you’re playing Mozart, but if it sounds like bubblegum pop, that’s probably what it is.
But perhaps it’s my own fault. I have clearly failed to adequately recalibrate my notion of what a Citroën can and ought to be in these desperate times. Because it’s equally possible Richard Meyer meant exactly what he said by suggesting that Citroën wants to give a ‘different expectation’. It might simply be his way of saying we shouldn’t get our hopes up.
Given the arc of model cycles, we should see something tangible from the fun police by Geneva next year. Which I suppose gives me a good ten months to manage my expectations.