In this final part, I take stock of the experience of living with the C6 over the last decade.
There is no getting away from the fact that the C6 has been less reliable and more expensive to maintain than it ought to have been. Most of the problems occurred between 60,000 and 100,000 miles, irritatingly after the warranty had expired. Whether it was the car’s weight overwhelming in particular the various suspension components is a matter of speculation, and one which was often vigorously contested on C6 Owner’s fora.
On average, I estimate I have spent around £1,200 a year keeping the C6 in decent fettle, including a couple of visits to a bodyshop to sort out some corrosion spots, a bit of paint blooming on a wing (caused by a poor respray whilst the car’s paintwork was still under warranty), and the time when some scallywag (if that is the correct term) dropped a brick on the bonnet whilst it was parked in a street, leaving it there so that it – and the damage it had caused – could not be missed.
Give the car a nice wash and polish and it looks quite superb – Robert himself wondered if I’d paid for a recent full respray last time it was there; he has owned a number of C6s over the years and so has quite the discerning eye for them.
The interior has worn quite well and has developed aspects of patina. The buttons on the steering wheel which work the cruise control have shed their outer skin to a lesser or greater extent. The lid of the ashtray in the front passenger door broke and, again, some of the outer plastic coating has stripped off.
The previous owner managed to chafe the leather on the outside hip-bolster on the driver’s seat, but regular care with Autoglym leather balm has stopped it from degrading. The seat itself has become more comfortable with age, with the cushion softening a little; the seats have always flattered to deceive somewhat, looking plush and plump but proving oddly firm and ungiving. The door-stays and boot-lid struts need replacing, and the nearside wing mirror has discoloured … but, otherwise, at the moment, it works.
So, given that it’s been an expensive 10 years (did I mention it sits in the top tax bracket?), full of a lot of part failures and so has never been the most confidence inspiring of companions, why am I still the proud owner of what must be one of Citroën’s biggest commercial failures? Why did I sell a perfectly good, reliable and excellent, fun to drive Subaru to end up in a quixotic, temperamental, brown barge?
Well, I could quote George Bishop and say “Because I am a bloody idiot, that’s why”, and my wife might well agree with his words. Especially when one hears from Executive Car Hire business owners who told me that they only ever buy Mercedes because they are the only manufacturer which 100% honours their 3 year, 300,000 mile warranty, with bearings failures and suspension arm replacements all being paid for on cars running in excess of 280,000 miles.
But, the real answer is that it has become a mild and benign (for my circumstances) form of obsession. Call me soft, but I feel some misplaced sense of protectiveness towards the C6, like I am somehow honour-bound to be its keeper. And, I do love it, although I am always very honest about my experiences if anyone seems to be seeking a recommendation to buy from me.
Since becoming my hobby rather than sole means of transport, I have been able to appreciate what I like about the car even more. On the right road under the right circumstances (i.e. no rush), it is just a sublimely unctuous experience, to be the driver of this car. One of the things that the C6 does best (most of the time – when the suspension is not being caught out by the odd ridge or pot-hole), is to isolate its occupants from the noise, strains and sensations of the outside world.
I believe it’s also one of the things that repels some people from the C6. That sense of isolation can be discombobulating; my wife finds it quite unnerving and so insists that I put the suspension into Sport mode to help recreate the sensations one more expects and gets from the way a normal car goes down a road.
Recently, I drove from the office to collect my son from university in Birmingham. It was lashing with rain and what light there was faded rather quickly. The Citroën was quite majestic, very composed along the A14 and M6, quiet and cocooning, with the torquey engine effortlessly pulling the great mass of the thing along. From inside the car, that engine can sound quite cultured when extended a bit, and can be quite fun too as the car picks up its skirts for a moment and surges forwards. Such it was on that journey. It managed 42 MPG over the full 210 miles of that particular round-trip back home again.
I stopped at the services just shy of Junction 4 on the M6 and sat at the window of the drivethru coffee shop, looking out at my rain-lashed Citroën. It really is a strikingly styled car, with a beautifully extended arcing roofline, well proportioned DLO framed by lovely chromed trim, and distinctive (but not really prestigious looking) Roccastrada 18″ wheels. There really is nothing like it, and it looks so lengthy – even more so than it actually is.
There are elements that are wrong (headlamps, rear bumper, auxiliary lamps either side of the rear number plate surround), and it is a bit of an enlarged, inferior pastiche of the CX, but it draws my eye every time I see it. And, I like the Ganache, even if everyone else just thinks it is black.
I know I am a lucky boy to have enough disposable to keep it running and in a condition to which I like it. But our other cars are hardly extravagant (a 54-month old FIAT 500 and a 40 month-old Octavia Estate – which has just suffered a failed alternator (something that – touch wood – has not (yet) failed on the C6), and I don’t smoke, drink much, or go on expensive holidays, so I find ways to excuse it as the one luxury item in my life.
I guess the final question is whether I will still be its keeper in another 10 years from now? I suspect that the odds are against it: by then there will have been another round of part failures or an accident-induced write-off, and moreover, driving a big, dirty, only-Euro 4-compliant diesel car might be banned in many places by then. Is that a sad thought? Yes it is – partly because I have come to feel that there is no other car (bar an SM or DS) that I can think I would want to replace it.
It is a special car, not for everyone, definitely not ordinary , but I can’t bear the thought of seeing my daughter cry again at the idea of losing it – so I do anticipate it to be around for a few years yet.
Which I found useful up to the point I found a proper garage to look after the car, after which I actually found it just biased and a bit deluded.
Repaired using Araldite, the only glue I know which actually works.
New job, now based in Wellingborough – when actually in the office, which I can get to by train when I feel like it.
You would not believe how many people try to tell me I am wrong about its colour – do they think I am completely stupid?
 Two, if you include our Border Terrier.
 People with whom I acquainted where I live can’t begin to understand why I bought it and assumed for a long time that I must work for Citroën UK.