Citroën Finally Comes Up For Air

By Brendan Moore

10.18.2008

While visiting the Citroen stand recently at the (still ongoing) 2008 Paris Auto Show, I couldn’t help but notice how much better the cars looked compared to years past, and further, how competitive they were with their challengers in each segment.

For those of you unfamiliar with recent Citroën history, this is unusual. Although Citroën was both a technology and style leader for many decades, that all started to fade away quickly after Peugeot acquired the company in 1974, which, coincidentally, was the same year Citroën withdrew from the North American market. Peugeot’s strategy of transforming Citroën into their budget brand meant some truly awful things happened to cars wearing the double chevron in the three decades following the acquisition of Citroën. The Citroën lineup was reduced to being carbon copies of the bottom of the Peugeot range, albeit with Citroën badges on them. Sometimes the cars weren’t very good, and even in the instance they were okay to drive, they were dull as old dishwater. The brand fell on hard times.

This undesirable situation began to change several years ago, and for 2009, Citroën finally has a lineup that is more worthy of their heritage. To be sure, Citroën no longer stuns the world with their new models, but there is now life at the marque.

The Citroën car range starts with the frugal C1 hatchback and ends with the quirky C6, a large luxury sedan. The models that have probably generated the most press (not all positive) are the C3 and its iterations, the C5 and the C6. Personally, I think the new C3 Picasso is very interesting, but I am in love with the C5 and C6. For slightly different reasons, but in love nonetheless. I am not blind to each car’s minor shortcomings after driving both the C5 and the C6, but overall, I really do like the cars.

And now the expected has happened; now I want PSA Citroën Peugeot to reenter the North American market so that I can get a crack at the Citroën lineup, whereas before I just didn’t really care a whole lot because they didn’t sell anything I wanted to drive. So, you know, I’m thinking maybe the huge multinational company that is PSA Citroën Peugeot should get on that initiative. After all, I’m interested, so that’s probably a good indicator of America’s interest as a whole, right?

1973 Citroën DS21 Super 5

Well, no. I think most Americans would shrink from the C3 as a result of its looks and size, and the C6 would be called ugly by a lot of Americans, just as the Citroën DS was. The C5 would find a somewhat wider audience, but I think it would still be tough sledding for the most part.

But, no matter. Here are some photos of the current Citroën car line for our North American readers – you can decide for yourself.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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2 Comments

  1. I want that C3 Picasso Dingo, that is very cool.

  2. I have owned plenty of PSA products and on the whole they are just as good as European VWs, Fords etc. Today’s Citroens do look much more individual but they are wholly Peugeots underneath so don’t expect any of the engineering idiosyncracy of the DS and its ilk, but in many ways that’s a good thing. Citroen has a big range of MPVs but most are too small or quirky for America, although the C4 Picasso and Grand Picasso might just work. The C-Crosser SUV would too, but that’s just a slightly restyled Mitsubishi Outlander so what would be the point? The obvious PSA product for the US, though, is not a Citroen, it is the Peugeot 407, a Passat-sized saloon, station wagon and coupe range. To me this already has a faintly transatlantic look about its styling, although it’s probably too late for the current model as a new version (the 408?) must be on the horizon soon.

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