Zut Alors! Citroën Joins the Supercar Elite… Sort Of
By Andy Bannister
Passers-by on the streets of central London were treated yesterday to the bizarre sight of a prototype supercar wearing an unlikely badge – that of quirky French make Citroën.
The concept – first aired in the Gran Turismo 5 Playstation game – made a surprise appearance in the city, being photographed outside notable landmarks including Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus. There’s no word yet on the power plant.
Citroën is trying hard to overhaul its rather low-rent image, with a number of well-received new models including the C3 Picasso mini-MPV and the C5 executive car.
It has already previewed the return of its legendary DS badge on a three-door rival for the Mini and Alfa Romeo Mito, and wants to raise the bar to become one of the leading European market contenders.
Previously, the nearest the company has come to a supercar was the glorious but deeply ill-fated SM model of the early 1970s, a grand tourer developed with Maserati.
This complex and futuristic car – now a classic – was scuppered by the fuel crisis and Citroën’s then chronic financial troubles. The firm was swallowed up by conservative rival Peugeot and fell into a long cycle of making increasingly ordinary vehicles.
Unlike the SM, at first glance the new GT prototype’s styling isn’t going to have onlookers swooning in admiration, but it certainly turns heads, and there is talk of very limited production – possibly around 15 units.
Given France’s track record in building sporty cars – with the failure of marques like Alpine and Matra – such miniscule volumes seem wise.
In truth the car is probably nothing more than a publicity stunt. However, in these tough times, it could prove a good investment for a company entering a brave new world.
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