A blocked drain creates a chance photo-opportunity of two different takes on the large car theme.
Without going into uncomfortable contextual details, after an extended period suffering a downstairs loo that blocked all too frequently, the Robinson household called upon the services of one of those franchises of which the name is a play on their operatives’ usage of dynamically extendable rods. This required that the C6 be temporarily displaced from its habitual mooring on the drive to the small lay-by opposite the house. Having done so, on return from walking the dog, I found that someone had parked their Velar next to the Citroën and it gave me cause to stare a while at the sight before me.
I thought it would make an amusing Photo for Sunday. This is not something I’ve submitted before to DTW, partly because – as witnessed – I am a numpty at taking photographs, and also because I have no qualifications that justify my making of a cold, real world comparative design assessment between objects, inanimate or otherwise. So, forgive the shallowness of the following musings, and the fact that one half of the subject is once again my C6.
The first thing that struck me about the picture was that these are two large cars (although made to look small by the mutated Victorian building in the background – recently converted from a care home into very expensive, luxury apartments). They are different senses of large. Fifty years ago, a Range Rover was a totally new concept and I don’t think immediately would have been seen as an alternative to a DS, but then I have never been sure of how a DS is to be classified either, aside, that is, from ‘large saloon’. These days, cars like the C6 have effectively been culled by the advent of those like the Velar.
The Velar is, in my book, a particularly interesting take on the SUV. Its design nods deftly in the direction of ‘luxury/ grand-tourer’, rather than ‘sporty’ or ‘practical’ (although my wife would say that SUVs under any of those headings always give her the impression of being the play-things of obnoxious, attention-seeking people – she sees the distinction I make between them as being too subtle to matter). When it was first launched, I thought it something of a first – an SUV with elegance and even a dash of panache. Since then, its allures have waned on me a little and I think that, like many of JLR’s cross-overs/ SUVs, it’s very dependent on the size and design of the wheels. The example in question here suffers by its chosen hue and rather bland wheels.
I would still rate the Velar as one of my more favoured SUVs (which is faint praise), along with the XC90 and XC40. I like the smoothly integrated and chiseled nose, the relatively fuss-free panel surfacing, and flush door handles (even if I think they could become unreliable later in life and may well freeze in place in cold snaps – just like the frameless windows on the C6). There is more than a touch of the luxury yachts about it, an impression encouraged by the gently rising shoulder-line, falling roofline, and the upward sweep of the lower edge of the rear bumper-valance aft of the rear wheels. There is an imperious attitude too, given the high-set cabin and relatively shallow DLO. This is augmented by the Range Rover’s width, which is even more generous than that of the car with which is shares this photograph, which is saying something.
These cars (by which I mean large SUVs) always look roomier than they are, though. I am always surprised at how small the luggage compartments are on them, especially when compared with our old Xsara Picasso or a modern-day Berlingo. However, a large car it is, the Velar, albeit in different ways to the C6 of course, and, to my eye at least, the way that it looms up over the Citroën in the photo, it looks like a more substantial lump of metal, plastic and glass than the sometime French Presidential saloon.
A look at the statistics confirms what the photo suggests: the Citroën is longer, as is its wheelbase although to a lesser extent which explains what the eye tells you in that the C6’s overhangs are too long, especially that at the rear (I want it to be more pert). If fact, the visual comparison with the Velar shows just how irregular are the proportions of the French car: say what you like about Gerry McGovern, but I think his oversight is excellent when it comes to proportions and stance. However, the C6 does have the sleek air of a flying cigar (especially in Ganache) and as such looks even more the grand tourer than the Sunseeker-esque Velar. From both the driver’s seat and viewed head-on, it also has its own sense of imperiousness.
The presence of the Velar also emphasises the age of the C6’s design (which was crystalised in the late 90s even if the car was not launched until the mid-noughties). Details and features such as the front and rear lights, the design of the alloys, and, the proportion of the DLO to the side-panels in particular give away the fact that it’s from a different era. Moreover, sorry to say that the Range Rover is the shape of the future for large, luxury vehicles whereas the C6 – as well as being the last big, oleopneumatically suspended Citroën – not only looks out of date, but its form is rapidly becoming ‘passée’.
Which would I choose to retrieve from the lay-by back onto the drive? Well, that choice does not exist unless I wish to undo nearly 30 years of marriage at a stroke. As she spotted me snapping the scene in the lay-by opposite, my wife advised me that she could never imagine being married to someone who drives a car like that. She then muttered something about nor wanting to be seen dead in one either, which made me wonder whether Coleman Milne would be tapping the SUV vibe anytime soon? I think there was once a DTW article on hearses, was there not?
P.S. Re the title: which is which? The somewhat gothic C6 is the Batman, of course, but this is no Dawn of Justice.