Hey, There’s a Cool Car: Citroën C6

By Charles Krome

The photos aren’t that great, and I didn’t have a lot of room in which to work, or a lot of time to actually take the pictures, but still: How often do you see a Citroën C6 in a Motor City parking structure, even/especially if it’s attached to the tony Detroit Athletic Club? In fact, with limited availability being a key selling point of the C6, seeing one anywhere in the States—or even in Europe, I suppose—isn’t an everyday occurrence. Which is really too bad, because the C6, like many Citroën vehicles, is certainly worth seeing. Which, in turn, is why I’ve also added a few pictures from the Citroën media site.

I put an emphasis on the visual with the car because avant-garde styling has been a cornerstone of Citroën’s positioning at least since the introduction of the iconic DS in the mid-1950s. “The Goddess” was a landmark in automotive design (and engineering), and is routinely hailed as one of the most influential vehicles ever produced. But the downside of all this acclaim is that the DS has cast a very long shadow over the Citroën products that came after it, with the automaker sometimes struggling to strike the right combination of forward-thinking style and cartoonish-ness.

On the C6, we see that kind of influence in touches like the car’s concave rear glass and the positioning and shape of its rear lights, as well as the large semi-circular “door panels” and streamlined dashboard on the interior. That’s concept-car kind of stuff. (As an aside: I wonder how many other production vehicles have featured glass that made such a dramatic impact on  their design. Oddly, I can only think of two GM products off the top of my head: The early ’70s Buick Riviera and the split-window Corvette.)

Back to the C6: In another nod to the DS—a pioneer in the area of self-levelling hydraulic suspensions—the C6 boasts Citroën’s latest “hydro-pneumatic” suspension, which can vary both spring rates and damping for optimum performance/fuel efficiency in differing driving conditions. If you take the time to watch the inimitable Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Gear review on YouTube, you’ll get an excellent demonstration of the system in action, along with much more info on the C6 from someone who’s certainly had more seat time in the car than I have.

On the other hand, if I’m understanding the chronology right, the C6 has seen somewhat of a change to its powertrain since Clarkson did his thing. At this point, the sole motivation for the C6 is an advanced 3.0-liter twin-turbo diesel—developed with help from Ford—that leverages high-pressure direct injection and other technology to develop about 237 hp, 331 lb.-ft. of torque and mileage ratings of 23.5 mpg city/40.5 mpg highway/32 mpg combined. That being said, I’m frankly not sure what year this model is from, and a few different engines have been available since the car debuted in 2005.

In terms of pricing, the C6 listed at €50,450 on the Citroën France website, and that works out to roughly $72,143. It may seem like an awful lot of money for a car the size of a Mercedes-Benz E-Class—both are essentially 193 inches long, and you can get into an M-B E350 BlueTEC for $50,900—but this reflects the general higher pricing in Europe. That same Mercedes goes for €59,700 in France, which translates into a healthy $85,591. Yet it’s also important to point out that four-cylinder diesel models are available in the E-Class (and the BMW 5 Series), and these are much less expensive than the C6.

So what you’ve got here is a luxury sedan that has a higher price of admission than its peers, wears wacky French styling and features a diesel-only powertrain. It seems like an ideal recipe for scaring away U.S. buyers—with maybe the one exception of the brave soul taking a Gallic gallop through Detroit a few days ago.

Author: Charles Krome

Charles Krome is a long-time automotive journalist who spent more than 10 years on the inside at General Motors and Ford, and also has corporate communications experience with Audi, Porsche and BASF Automotive Refinish. As a big motorsports fan growing up in the Detroit area, Krome was lucky enough to be able to attend numerous NASCAR, Indy car, F1 and SCCA events while still in his formative years. This, combined with a childhood that included significant (passenger) seat time in cars from Lotus and Jensen Healey, made him a car guy at an earlier age. Today, he lives in metro Detroit with his car wife, raising car kids.

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8 Comments

  1. Great article Charles. When I was living in England I saw a few (with the emphasis on Few) of these cars. They look great in the flesh. After a long time Citroen has finally come up with a great car again.

  2. Was it on a manufacturer plate? I wonder how the hell they got that car registered in any state, and how they were able to get it past the federal regulations when it was brought to the U.S.

  3. BTW, I love the the way these cars look. Give me quirky French design anytime!

  4. Oddly enough, it looked like a New Jersey dealer plate.

  5. Let’s just get this out of the way first: I am an unabashed fan of the C6. In fact, I am smitten with the just about the whole Citroen lineup. Like Marcus, I am a big fan of French design. Go ahead, judge me, I don’t care, that’s what love does to you.

    Second, I, like Marcus, am also curious as to how this car is being driven around in the U.S. I know the regulatory requirements regarding importation of cars into the U.S. that are LESS than 25 years old, so unless some company has decided to federally certify the Citroen D6 (with the requisite replacement of certain parts of the car and the sacrifice of some models for crash testing, etc.), I think we have to assume it’s either toodling around on a manufacturer plate, or, some hardy individual has brought it in on a 12-month “visit”, which gets you plates that expire in a year, and if the vehicle overstays it’s welcome, I think they confiscate it and crush it. “They” being the Federales.

    So I guess either one of those possibilities is in the mix.

    There is a new Citroen Picasso C3 on Consulate plates parked in my old neighborhood in San Francisco – I see it all the time, so I suppose this C6 could also be on a Diplomatic or Consular license plate.

    No matter, really. It will just be a little mystery, I guess. Kind of like that time a new RHD Ford Falcon passed me on the Golden Gate Bridge several years ago at dusk. After he crossed the bridge, the Australian Falcon (with manufacturer plates) lost me very quickly on his way up north through Marin. He wasn’t sticking around for possible camera shots.

    Anyway, like the writer, I’ve never had the opportunity to drive the big sedan from Citroen. I’ve driven the smaller C3 and C5 in France, but not the C6. It’s unusual that you see the cars on the road in France because, 1) the price of the car, and, 2) it’s not for everyone – even among the French. Elsewhere in Europe, the C6 is rare indeed. You know, you would have to really, really want one in order to pay the price of admission and then put up with limited parts and service outlets during the time you own it, if you lived in, say, Sweden.

    I wonder where the C6 driver in Detroit is getting his car serviced? How many places can there be in the U.S. with the necessary equipment to service a new Citroen C6?

    Regardless, kudos to the writer for spotting the car. Good catch.

  6. I also saw this same car this morning. The plate is from New Jersey and it is a manufacturer plate.

  7. C6 is a far better car than the MB or the BMW or for that matter even a Lexus.
    Have a look around at the Royal Ascot Horse racing you will only see Citroen being used to take Camera or video shots, other vehicles just don’t work as the picture wobbles.
    I saw this on the YouTube, it may even have been a Jeremy Clarkson.
    I am in Toronto and have 4 Citroens, a 1988 CX TRI Automatic break, a 1986 CX GTI Turbo 5 speed, a 1986 CX Doverin and last a 1990 XM V6 24 valve Automatic.

  8. I was lucky enough to pick up one of these cars a couple of months back, and it’s reminded me how much I enjoyed driving earlier Citroen ‘spaceships’ like the XM and DS. By all accounts the hydro-elastic suspension is now gremlin-free, but still offers the novelty of effortless jacking (I’m almost looking forward to my first puncture). The ride is peerless, the steering feather-light yet responsive, with the tracking headlights also inherited from the DS. I could only afford the 2.2 manual 6-speed (with its cheaper UK road tax), but dream of a 3.0 HDi, apparently the most powerful car Citroen have ever built. The other thing that’s amazed me about the C6 is its build quality, streets ahead of other Citroens which have such a plasticky feel to them. Did I hear they had a dedicated factory in Rennes for the C6?

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