Ah oui, le French and big saloons or hatchbacks: a fantastique genre that’s never quite managed to make it to the big boy’s table, but not through lack of trying. Over the years, Citroen, Peugeot and Renault have all had entrants in the large executive/luxury sedan market. Some were brilliant, some terrible, some perfect, some flawed; some were interesting combinations of all the above! Some raised quirkiness to an art form and some are so aesthetically interesting that seeing them is worthy of stopping for photos. The September 2007 Citroen C6 above was definitely worth stopping for! I’ve seen it around town sporadically for a few months, so when I found it in the local supermarket carpark on Christmas Eve, I just had to stop and take my photos to share with my CC brethren. I think it’s a future classic, but what say you? To help decide, let’s compare it with quirky large Citroens of decades past.
The ethos of Citroen quirkiness really began back in 1933, when Frenchman André Lefèbvre and Italian Flaminio Bertoni designed the ‘Traction Avant’, known as the Light 15 (or Big 15) in New Zealand. Low-slung, with vestigial running boards and wheel-at-each-corner proportions, the Traction broke ground by being the first front-wheel-drive unitary body car in the world. Robert Kim wrote an excellent article on the Traction Avant here.
Unfortunately for Citroen, the price paid for such an advanced design was bankruptcy in 1934, just eight months after the Traction Avant was launched. Tyre manufacturer Michelin was the company’s biggest creditor and found themselves the surprised new owners of Citroen. Luckily for Michelin, the Traction’s quirkiness was appreciated by the public, and aside from some unpleasantness between 1939 and 1945, sales trundled along quite nicely – with nearly 760,000 sold over the next 21 years.
Although ground-breaking in 1934, the Traction Avant looked a bit old hat by 1955, so Lefèbvre and Flaminio’s next design, the DS/ID, was unleashed upon an unsuspecting public. With its streamlined shape, hidden rear wheels, hydropneumatic suspension and rear indicators up by the roof, the DS wasn’t just quirky, it was King Quirk, on the throne of Quirkdom, quirkiest in all the land! Roger Carr has a great article here on the development of King Quirk.
Nowadays the DS/IS is frequently at or near the top of the most beautiful or influential car designs in the world, but as a kid in the ’80s, I thought they were gob-smackingly ugly. When parked and sitting down on their hydropneumatic suspension, I thought DS/IDs looked like hideous slugs, just waiting to ooze over the road and swallow me whole. My parents would threaten to make me look at a DS picture if I didn’t eat my vegetables… I may have made that last bit up. Of course now that I’m an adult, I do eat my vegies, and have grown to understand and love the DS/ID styling, as presumably did the almost 1.5 million people who bought one between 1955 and 1975.
After the DS/ID went full-quirk and then some, designer Robert Opron dialled the quirkometer back for 1974’s CX. It was the reduced fat of the Quirk Kingdom – full-flavoured panache with only half the quirk. I’ve always found the CX to be quite beautiful, with some wonderful detailing. CC’s own Perry Shoar described the CX as “Modernism’s Last Stand“, and I find his description to sum the styling up quite perfectly:
“Rather than looking like a 1950s sci-fi relic, the CX was a design mere earthlings could relate to; its uniqueness was a matter of being fashion forward, subtly detailed and beautifully proportioned, not necessarily imaginative. It simply is one of the cleanest, most compelling sedan shapes put into production and imparts a sense of capacity in addition to mere efficiency; a real jet-age express.”
As well as a beautiful exterior, the CX brought an interior that no-one understood at first glance. “Mon dieu! You want stationary instruments with moving needles? Non!” shouted Citroen, “They bark like – how you say? – a derg? Sacre bleu!! We make l’instruments rotate instead! Now, où est mon vin?” And of course the CX looked like a hatchback but wasn’t, so I award Citroen top marks in Quirkdom’s WTF awards.
Unfortunately for Citroen, the price paid for such an advanced design was bankruptcy in
1934 uh 1974. I’m experiencing a sense of deja vu here. Once again, Quirkiness qame at a qost… So in December 1974, at French government insistence, Citroen was taken over by Peugeot. Although this gave Citroen stability, a lot of the quirkiness was locked up in the basement. Yet, despite other Citroen models becoming more mainstream, the beautiful CX was left virtually alone, aside from a minor facelift in 1985 (au revoir weird instruments, bonjour conventional gauges), and nearly 1.2 million were sold before it was put out to pasture in 1991.
Given the rate at which the CX sales petered out, I find it surprising that Citroen developed a follow-up model, 1989’s XM, which Paul briefly covered here. Sitting on the anti-quirky Peugeot 605 platform, the XM was based on Marcel Gandini’s “Zabrus” concept. Citroen really should have had The Great Gandini wave his magic wand over their final version of his design – which is not great looking – the nose is looooooooong, the bonnet frightfully broad and flat, and there’s far too much going on down the sides.
Out back though, Citroen finally deigned to give their hatchback-looking car an actual real live hatchback! Sacré bleu! Of course they couldn’t do a normal hatchback, as when the hatch was opened, breezes could ruffle passengers’ coiffures and haute couture. Mon dieu! So Citroen gave the XM a second, internal, rear windscreen! Naturally, this wins them another of my Quirkdom WTF awards.
Although a core of Citroen supporters bought the XM, reliability issues saw sales sink quicker than a very quick thing. Barely 330,000 were sold by the time production stopped in 2000, leaving Citroen sedan supporters sobbing into their syrah.
There was a glimmer of hope though, as at 1999’s Geneva Motor Show, Citroen showed their C6 Lignage concept car. The C6 Lignage was striking, very streamlined and smooth, and looked like a beautifully updated CX – it was almost as if the over-wrought XM had never existed! The C6 Lignage met with a mostly good response – although Citroenet described it as looking “…somewhat bulky and heavy”. Wikipedia (no, it’s never my main source!) says that the C6
Corvette Lignage was meant to go into production right after the XM was guillotined in 2001. The reality is that production was delayed until 2005, and I haven’t been able to find out why – perhaps someone in CCland knows?
When the C6 arrived, it unexpectedly and bravely retained most of the concept car’s styling, and is all the better for it. I think it’s a spectacular piece of design, even in drab silver, and Citroenista everywhere must have popped cork after cork of the finest champagne.
The champagne glasses must also be raised to Citroen for pulling off that very rare feat of an enormous proboscis that doesn’t desperately require rhinoplasty! Large overhangs have been much discussed on CC previously – in 2011 Paul described the 1961 Gregoire as the “Front Overhang Pioneer“. In the comments to that article, CCer calibrick nominated the C6 as his personal front overhang record holder, which is quite possibly true.
Debate resumed in 2013 when Paul wondered if the Lincoln Mark VI had “The Biggest Overhang Ratio Ever?” The C6 didn’t get mentioned that time, although CCer david42 nominated the Citroen CX as the only car that looked good with an enormous frontal overhang and a small rear overhang. I’d posit that the C6 can join and become class president of that club!
Of course Citroen wouldn’t be Citroen without a bizarre quirk or three, and the C6’s biggest quirk harks back to its CX grandfather: it looks like a hatchback but, mesdames et messieurs, it’s a sedan! Words escape me on that one. Actually, I lie, words never escape me, just like the need to at least try to provide decent luggage access didn’t escape Citroen’s designers either. The shape of that rear windscreen makes my head hurt when I try to picture it in 3-D, but it is a truly sublime piece of sculpture.
That the rear windscreen made it into production is one thing; that Citroen actually made it more radical than the concept version is outstanding! I’m glad the chevrons in the roof didn’t carry over though…
Something else that was more radical on the production model is the tail-light design. When I saw my first C6 in the metal a few years ago, I was unsure about the tail-lights. But they’ve grown on me now and I can’t imagine the rear end without them – they’re an integral part of the whole.
Unfortunately – actually scrub that, infuriatingly, Citroen bottled on carrying over the concept interior design! Instead of soaring consoles (which I know a bunch of you would have hated!) and a tree, Citroen gave us, well, this:
Sacrilege! Okay, the wood door pockets look great, and open quite beautifully, but as for the rest…seriously Citroen? Y’know, I could have lived with a less exciting rear windscreen shape* for a little more flair de conception inside!
*NB I couldn’t have lived with a less exciting rear windscreen shape.
Having said that, the centre navigation screen is well-located, and the digital instruments in front of the driver are quirkyish and have a very decent heads-up display. But the whole ensemble was more back street than Carnaby Street. I took a photo of the rear compartment for our intrepid readers, but it’s seriously so generic and boring that I fell asleep while posting it here. It probably ended up in one of Paul’s GM Deadly Sins articles.
However meh the C6 interior is though, I think the exterior is more than a worthy successor to the Traction Avant, DS/ID and
XM CX of old. Tragically the predicted 20,000 per year sales never eventuated (although Citroen didn’t go bankrupt this time) with just 23,384 being sold over seven years. Thankfully, Citroen New Zealand saw fit to offer the C6 here, and you can take it from me: even painted silver in a supermarket carpark, there was nothing – nothing – else there on Christmas Eve as stunning as this C6. A future classic? Ah oui, absolument!
saw one of these in europe this summer in dark blue with a tan interior. took me a moment to recognize it for what it was. tres, tres belle!
These are going SO CHEAP right now. Would that I could bring one back home with me… smh
You found it Scott ! The car that can tackle bad roads, the Autobahn and the Nürburgring. All hassle-free.
Future classic ? Yes ! This can only be a Citroën, you can recognize it from a country mile. The front, the side and the rear. Latest generation of their hydropneumatic suspension, Hydractive 3+. Powerful V6 engines, both gasoline and diesel. Forgive them for the interior, they probably ran out of budget.
I especially like it in dark blue metallic. And it can look quite sinister too.
(Photo courtesy carslaws.com)
Scott,happy nue yeer,you are a very funny man.As much as I have loved and owned Citroen,Renault and Peugeot cars,yesterday I saw the only Peugeot 605 in Tasmania,an ugly and reportedly incompetent device.I find the c6 a fascinating car and if I had the money I would buy one tomorrow,despite the future high cost gremlins.It would have to be black though,lol.I hope you have not been adversely affected by the South Island earthquakes,we have had minimal media coverage of those on this island.Take care.
Thank you Roderick! The Peugeot 605 was available new here in NZ; I still see the occasional one around. They didn’t sell well here as they looked too much like a 12/10ths scale 405. No, I haven’t been affected by the latest round of quakes, but thank you for your kind words 🙂
Check the cohort I shot one in black 2 years ago.
I think that the C6 was a great return to form for Citroen after the somewhat lackluster XM.
Of course following the footsteps of the legendary DS and CX is always a heavy task.
Both the C6 and the Renault Vel Satis (discontinued) which came out around the same time only had moderate success.
I think its fair to say that the European market has been divided up between Mercedes, BMW and Audi since the mid to late 80s.
All other offerings in the executive / business sedan class from manufacturers such as Rover, Citroen, Renault, Volvo and Saab have been directed at customers known as “individualists” (in other words: self employed architects, doctors, lawyers, artists…in short, people who could afford to give a rat´s ass about what the neighbors had to say about the new car parked in the driveway).
If you couple this limited allure of these “exotic” sedans with allegedly unreliable electronics and unavailability of spare part due to poor sales, you´re on to a loser.
So my take on this would be, that the C6 rather finds itself in a similar category as the Citroen SM.
To-die-for design, cant stop looking at them, but definitely not something one would seriously consider to buy.
Monzaman….just like a beautiful and seductive mistress,expensive,alluring and ultimately unreliable.So now I must tell you the story of a doctor friend of mine.He is a hopeless driver and says he “hates driving”.The tally in 2014 is one written off/wrecked Volvo s60,replaced by a Mercedes Benz C class and a SLK ,a short time ago he hit some gravel on a bitumen mountainous road,accelerated and did a 180 degree spin and hit the metal barrier and descended backwards into a gully,or a deep ravine.The Benz ended up with its rear end against a tree,otherwise the doctor would be deceased.He then bought the top of the line Jaguar XF,he recently told me it made the television news,when I asked why he said he was driving it home from the hospital and it caught on fire and was destroyed.I suggested he buy a horse and cart!!!
right on…these cars´allure definitely appealed much more to drivers who bought them not exactly for their competencies, but rather for their quirkiness. so they would end up rather in the hands of lousy instead of sporty, competent drivers.
Comfort-crazy Americans should’ve been impressed by the old Citroëns, but aside from regulatory issues they, like Brit makes, couldn’t solve more basic logistical problems & threw away their initial advantage. Now, the innovation gap is too close to matter.
These days I suspect most sports cars & sports sedans are driven by people who want be seen in them, and not because they’re enthusiasts. I infer this by their retiree-mode driving.
Back in the 60’s our neighbors were rich Russian emigres (Children of Czarists who fled the revolution) who loved big cars. They had a 62 Chrysler Imperial, and followed that up with a Citroen DS. It blew my 10-year-old mind. First, of course the spaceship beauty of the thing. Then the square steering wheel and the rubber bulb brake pedal. The back seat was huge, comfortable and a lovely gray cloth….then he made the suspension lift the car….wow. Just wow. Everything I knew about cars….every single thing….was different on that car. I imprinted it in my brain.
Unfortunately it stayed with them less than a year. I don’t know the details but I do know that they had to have a mechanic flown in from Atlanta three times during that year.
They followed it with a black Lincoln Continental….
So, I have always wanted a Citroen, but……I have always believed that you have to be rich enough to have your mechanics fly in to fix them.
First time I ever saw the C6 was on Top Gear, I think they used tested it as a camera car for horse racing or something. What I thought of the styling though was that it looked exactly like a stretched Prius (second gen), and seeing even more of it cements it in my brain.
That’s right – Jeremy decided to see if the suspension was good enough for the camera to remain steady whilst filming a horse race.
These North American eyes have never, ever seen this creation until now.
Holy Silver Creation!
I have no doubt this creature drives great and rides like none other. However, I must second your two WTF awards. Cars like this are one of the reasons I keep hanging around here – it’s good to see what there is elsewhere. There is something oddly compelling about this car.
Scott, thank you for finding and sharing this car. I am better for having learned something about it. Bon travail type monsieur!
Jason ,happy new year,if you haven’t experienced the ride of hydroneumatic Citroen,an increasingly rare beast today,then that is an experience you should seek.No other car does it like a Citroen thus equipped.Even in my 1965 ID19 you could drive fast around a sharp corner and the body would lean momentarily and then self level,so there was minimal stress on your body.Apart from the peugeot 404,two cars I remember fondly for their brilliance,comfort,handling,unreliability,are the 65 ID19 and my 1965 MK11 Jaguar 3.8 auto.
I’d love to, but my last ride in a Citroën DS was too brief for me to notice, esp. as a distracted tourist. My late great-uncle had a ’60s model, but when they visited my family, it wasn’t for joyrides in the thing, & and it was only its unique styling that got my attention.
I’ve seen pictures only from browsing Wikipedia before. I’ve never seen any modern Citroen in person. While its proportions are a bit awkward, I do like many of the styling elements quite a lot. You have to give Citroen credit for making some seriously French Impressions in the automobile industry 🙂
Good point – the only Citroen I’ve ever seen (that I can remember) is a DS in a museum.
They do deserve a lot of credit for maintaining (at least at the time this was made) a unique appearance and not blending into the crowd.
Thanks Jason! I was slightly disappopinted that it was silver – I’ve seen several black ones and one stunning bronze one (being driven by an elderly lady and towing a very large boat!). They definitely suit the dark colours better!
Citroën’s current top model in Europe, the DS5. A hatchback without hydropneumatic suspension.
The DS5 is currently Citroen NZ’s top model too, there are a few around – they have a surprising presence in the metal, and the interior is divine!
The last big Citroen? 🙁
This one keeps showing up, the future DS9. Essentially designed for the Asian market.
Those wheels are horrible, but I like the bodystyle
Now THAT looks like a Citroen. Hope they give it the proper suspension.
From this angle it looks like an Aston Martin Rapide Break
Rear. (all images courtesy of Citroën)
I don’t mind the DS9, but it’s channelling more XM influence than it is C6.
I’ve been a big fan of the C6 ever since I first saw a photo, even though I’ve never seen one in person, given Citroen’s unavailability in the US. I think I’ve heard there is precisely one registered in this country, which I don’t know how they managed to do given the usual “25 year rule”. Unless I’m confusing it with another semi-exotic (for this country) Euro sedan.
Definitely a worthy successor to the TA, DS and CX. And personally I think the XM gets short shrift–sure the styling is more odd than attractive (a better front and less creases would have helped immensely, the shape itself is fine) but it’s still another lunar large Citroen with enough quirk and charm to not be a total outcast.
Citroën C6 suspension explained, English spoken video.
Narrators have more authority with an upper-class British accent.
But the A.I. cars really need, more than active suspensions or auto parallel-parking, is something to slap drivers on the head when they stare at their bloody smart phones!
Never seen a red C6; looks good.
Looks like a C5 Audi A6 with a bad nose job that a truck rear ended.
I was gonna say it looks like a harelip!
Kind of what I was thinking. The front end treatment is unique, I will give it that. Loose the hatchback (oh, how I loathe thee…) and stretch it a bit, and it would be an eccentrically handsome sedan.
Like a C5 Audi A6 with modified proportions…I was going to post the same thing. I think the C5 A6’s still look great (unlike their successors with fussier, less-fluid styling)… Maybe that’s why I like this Citroen.
Does anyone here have experience with both a modern Citroen suspension and GM’s magnetic ride control?
Thanks Scott et al. This has been a particularly interesting and excellent day at CC IMO. Love the 59 ElCam, love the Merc wagon (and I generally dislike Mercedes), and this is just cool.
I agree c. And we haven’t even had Bryce show up yet. I’m particularly keen to see him in this comment thread, as he always has STRONG opinions about the larger French cars.
Lol, +1 🙂
Bryce is not at home right now. He’s on the hunt for a C6. With a V6 diesel, of course.
All ours were the V6 diesel, so he’ll have no trouble there, but I read that only 5 C6s were sold here new so he may have a little trouble sourcing one! (I suspect we actually got more than 5 as I’ve seen more). Prices are still high for them here too.
Bryce has been on a road trip around northland in his Citroen hatch.
A very comfy and economical way to travel no doubt!
I’ve always liked the Citroen DS, the CX, and the XM. both the gasoline and diesel models. It’s simply unforgivable that while they have been sold in North America, I’ve seen a couple of DS21 sedans in the Seattle area, that they weren’t sold in large numbers here in the USA, or even Canada. What they should’ve done was build a large enough dealer network to sell cars here in this country, and offer a large enough service network to maintain them while people drive them.
I don’t know — from the front, the C6 looks like the reviled Ford AU Falcon (or a last-generation Mercury Cougar with a migraine) and I fully agree with Leon about the side profile (and taillights) looking like a C5 Audi A6 post rear-ending. The digital instruments, too, are straight out of some of the more gimmicky JDM Toyotas of the mid-80s.
The appeal of the Déesse and to a lesser extent the SM and CX was not just that they were quirky, but that they were pretty much sui generis — the DS regularly shows up in the background of science fiction movies or TV shows because even 60 years on, it still looks like a private import from the Martian colonies. The C6 is an oddball, but more in the sense of being a peculiar grab bag of familiar pieces than having an individual vision. There’s a difference between going your own way even if it’s challenging to the usual order of things and trying to be weird just for the sake of being weird.
It pains me to say so, but Aaron is right: with this design, Citroen has merely gone retro. In terms of aesthetic innovation, it’s a Dodge Charger à la français. The headlights and taillights are different, but it’s basically a refreshed CX.
Having said that, I would still buy a C6 in a heartbeat… but I would buy an as-new CX even faster. Here in the US, neither are an option.
Sui generis is a great way to describe the DS, and maybe even the CX. Some people might say “Citroen has lost its way, there is no hope for the company, etc etc.” But I think that today’s market doesn’t have room for otherworldly design from any company. From now on, innovation will be limited to gadgets and powertrains, not aesthetics.
Honestly, I think the C4 Cactus (discussed the other day) is more authentically Citroen-quirky; it’s unusual and polarizing, but the oddity serves a purpose. It’s not as challenging as the original DS, of course, but it shows signs of fresh thinking.
I agree with the Cougar comparison; less the AU. I think the C6 would have been seen in a better light if it had actually replaced the XM in 1999 when its interior would have been acceptable and its exterior avant garde.
Lovely article Scott. I haven’t heard such delicious peppering of French phrases in an English text since Aunt Roz’s dialogue in Downton Abbey.
Thanks Saabaru – the French is about all I remember from my school days lol (why do we always remember the curses?!)
Another great write up on a car I never saw or heard of. Really has quite an overhang on the front, maybe to recall the way the earlier cars were proportioned along with the short rear overhang. The almost finlike like tail lamps seem to stand out a lot less on the darker car in the suspension video. If I ever a C6 around here I would for sure stop and be spending a few minutes checking this machine out. But nothing tops the dual rear glass of the XM!
This is my idea of a brougham.
And I’d kill to have one. Unfortunately, I’ll probably be dead before a vintage one can be imported into the states.
For the avoidance of doubt, Downton Abbey is not a documentary 😉
I feel the love, since I love French cars. In a world of vanilla ice-cream focus groups, the French stand out in a lot of things. Want truly good restaurant food? France. Want the best fruit money can buy? Any Paris market. Want the weirdest thing on four wheels? Mais, bein sur! That’s what I love about the French, they have a real flair, a sense of style. Watch everyone walking along a French street. All are dressed well, thin and look great (well, most anyway). People look great when they are old in France, since they eat so well, or that’s what I think anyway. And in that boring world of Camacords, the French will always give us some form of weird-o-rama, that this is a good thing.
Yet French cars have never done well here. Part of the reputation was deserved, but cars like the Peugeot 504 were stunning cars, comfortable, good handling and very well built. However, they were never cheap here and the dealer network was never much to write home about. Thus, we thrash the Camacord here, but close to million of them are sold every year. Go figure, eh?
Much of the bad rep that French cars had came from the Dauphin, which was not up to our standards of durability. French cars were popular with Quebec nationalists when I was a kid, and they seemed as good as anything else on the road. Of course, I thought it nuts my friend’s mom had R8 when a Pontiac with a V-8 could be so easily had. While in university, I got a 505 for my girlfriend to drive and she loved it. It was supremely comfortable and competent. In the two years she drove it, it only needed an alternator belt.
“This is what ‘meh’ looks like”? I believe you didn’t get the memo the made-up term ‘meh’ was banned do to overuse and because it’s stupid. Thanks.
OMG! There was a memo?
You didn’t get the memo that the made-up phrase ‘you didn’t get the memo’ was banned for the same reason?
Ted C, you called me a vacuous teenager on the clue post, and now you’re calling me stupid? Thanks so much for your humorless, narrow-minded and insulting commentary. Your critique has added immeasurable value to this article and greatly increased our knowledge and understanding of Citroens past and present. Oh wait, no it hasn’t! You are a very rude and ill-mannered person; this article was written with passion and love of both words and cars, to be shared with the myriad like-minded souls that inhabit this fine site. I feel very sorry for you, because your level of meh is awesomely awesome.
Well said, Scott.
LOL… wow. Brutal, yet elegantly stated, shut down!
Citroen always made cars that were unique, and for the most part ahead of their time. This one does not dissapoint. Still looks like “next year`s model”, and its a 2007. I`m seeing one in maroon with tan leather, like my 1973 DS19 that I had in the early `80s, one of the best cars I`ve ever owned. Its nicknane was the OSV-the outer space vehicle.
Actually I am ashamed of us !
Our parents embraced technology and bought and drove big Citroëns, because they were simply the best thing to travel long distances in comfort and grace, we here in Europe have embraced the steel spring !
I mean, we use an invention from the Roman era, instead of an avant-garde hydraulic-pneumatic system that gives you a magic carpet ride, combined with a computer it is the BEST suspension ever on the C6.
The only stupid thing that still sells is top-speed in Europe.
Well let me kill a legend right now, I just came back from a 600 Mile trip from the city of Linz (Upper Austria) through Germany back to the Netherlands, and Germans will do 130/140 K max on the autobahn, occasionally, really occiasionally, you’ll be overtaken by a car doing 200, only to see him take the next exit to probably go home again.
Driving fast is a myth we still believe in, I was able to do 110/120 km (70/80MPH) for hours, and hours and hours at the time, in a bleeding delivery van, cruise control on, two types of water,s omething to eat and eat the miles……
Style wise, the C6 is the CX updated, stepping over the XM.
If you like France or French cars, you’ll like the C6. I love both, so I think its great and if take for a daily driver if long motorway distances and main roads were predominant. Its not that great on the bends, but it wasn’t meant to be. I can think of no better choice for leaving central Paris in style and driving to Provence in style and comfort.
That rear window is designed to resist and disperse rainwater, and look cool. Mostly to look cool actually, I suspect.
And its next to another future CC – the 2001 Range Rover
“stepping over the XM”
I remember a documentary about Robert Opron, the renowned French car designer. (Citroëns GS, CX, SM. Renaults 25, Fuego etc.etc.)
Being a retired and elderly Frenchman, looking like a retired and elderly man just as Canucknucklehead described above, he stared at the Citroën XM and said that the car “had so many lines you could actually draw an extra car from them”.
Totally agree re the CX-C6 styling progression Roger.
In addition to the amazing, floaty but controlled ride, the thing I remember about the DS23 I had in Amsterdam (before some #@% stole it) was the seats. They had foam rubber cushions – from Michelin, no doubt – that seemed to firm as you sunk in, like a Tempurpedic bed. The only comparable experience was on the old Paris-Amsterdam Etoile Nord, a hangover luxury train from the ’60s, now sadly replaced by the much faster, but much more anodyne Thaylus.
I think it’s funny how the XM just doens’t seem to get any love at all. I mean, come on: it is a great, roomy cruiset with a superb ride and a stand-out styling that is certainly not for everyone. It even is far more reliable than most like to think – i.e. just like his ancestors.
That’s the wrath of the DS, probably? Mind, all the CX’s weren’t (and aren’t really still) appreciated, considered worthless next to the goddess. You see far more DS/ID’s everywhere you go, with no CX in sight. All used up and thrown into the crusher. The same will happen to the XM’s and in 10 years, everybody will marvel at it’s quirky 80’a styling and wonder where they all went.
I think it’s unforgivable. I find the XM to be way better looking than the C6, even the XM face looks better than that of the the C6.
You can pick up a really good and well maintained (and documented) XM for € 7,500 to € 10,000. The CX, in a comparable good and shiny condition, will do € 10,000 to € 15,000. Top of the market asking prices, the lesser gods go for al lot less of course. I still see plenty of XMs being used as daily drivers, certainly the diesels.
A DS in a superb (that is, often restored) condition will do € 30,000 to € 35,000.
Regarding the XM, yes, there are a lot of lines; but the XM can definitely only come from Citroën. And that includes their hydropneumatic suspension.
I tried to love the XM when it came out; they certainly sold ok here. But after its beautiful streamlined predecessors, it seemed to be such a let-down. The DS and CX were timeless; the XM dated very quickly and screams 1992 to me. But each to their own 🙂
Absolutely. And the XM wagon was fantastic!
Hi, the correct French for the title would be ” Une Limousine Française Excentrique”.
If I remember well, they didn’t sold well in France because of their late availability. Also, they deleted the V6 engine and only Diesel were sold, in the highest trim named ‘Exclusive’. They sold the lasts ones with a 50% discount in 2012.
See here : http://en-voiture.blog.leparisien.fr/archive/2012/12/06/citroen-arrete-la-production-de-la-c6-et-la-brade.html
I also think that the Renault Vel Satis had a better weird design in addition of a way better interior design. The rear design is ugly in my opinion, original but ugly.
The newer DS5 is pretty but again, they don’t put good engines to compete the Germans. No V6, only 4 cylinder Turbos, Gas or Diesel. Also, I think that it’s a bit small as a flagship. No surprising since Carlos Tavares decided that Citroen will be the ‘low cost’ brand of PSA when Peugeot will try to compete with Germans cars.
Sorry about the bad English of my first comment. Always a pleasure to read this website.
Hi Etienne, thank you for the title correction – I’ll update it. Google-translate let me down lol!
The C6 sold in very small numbers in New Zealand – it was very expensive and only available with the 2.7 diesel V6. The NZ brochure says we only got the ‘Lignage’ spec level, but I’ve seen NZ-new ‘Exclusive’ models too. I think we only got it in 2007 and 2008.
The Vel Satis was available new here too – I attended its launch and adored the interior design and materials. I’ve only seen two, so I suspect they sold even fewer then the C6.
Your English was fine; glad you enjoy Curbside Classic!
Same engine the Ford Territory and Jaguar use tons of grunt no wonder they dropped the V6 petrol it simply couldnt compete.
Thanks for the great article, Scott. I see the C6 as an exceptionally rare moment in Citroën’s fantastically idiosyncratic history. To my mind, if we’re to weigh up everything fairly, it was a moment where they got more things right than they typically had achieved in any ‘Big Citroën’ before. The design, function, power, build quality, safety, reliability and day-to-day liveability was unequalled.
I have an historical note about the C6 in New Zealand, for your interest.
While you note that not many C6s were imported to Aotearoa, I believe I can reliably inform you that at least eight C6s landed in the country in late 2007 – the peak year of production at Citroën’s dedicated production line in Rennes, incidentally. All eight were the higher-spec ‘Exclusive’ models, rather than ‘Lignage’ and most, if not all, did not find owners in New Zealand thanks to the GFC.
Instead, the unsold units were returned to Australia and compliance plated as 2009 models, after receiving updated software (and possibly the later RT4 head units). The Lignage spec was deleted in 2008, so any examples that you might find in NZ would likely be 2006 builds, identified by the semi-raised, fixed rear spoiler on the boot as opposed to the active spoiler in all other C6s. By the way, about 130 C6s were sold in Australia. Is that more than in the UK, I wonder?
My first C6 was one of these New Zealand sabbatical cars (a 2.7 Hdi) and, after completing 210,000 kms by her most recent service, she still looked like she’d just rolled off the production line. The leather showed almost no wear (and it was the cream interior option), there were no squeaks, rattles or plastic chatter; and everything worked. The Hydractive 3+ suspension is scheduled for first service at 200,000; there were no issues and the spheres didn’t need replacement.
Apart from just having had the A/C re-gassed for the first time (and what an awesomely powerful system that is), her ownership misdemeanours were few. One breakdown, when a minor coolant leak halted progress but did no damage. One incident of a clogged DPF, which put the car in ‘limp home mode’, but was inexpensively resolved. Apart from replacing two, EGRs, regular authorised Citroen services and some preventive cooling system maintenance, there were no surprises. I’d say that’s a pretty respectable record for any $100,000+ European car.
So, noticing a later model with low kilometres and the uprated 3.0 Hdi diesel was for sale, I’ve just bought my second C6. I look forward to many more happy miles in what is an amazingly comfortable, quiet and refined motor car.
Saw one of these when I went to Europe last year. Couldn’t for the life of me figure out what I was staring at
Love it and I imagine they’re even more compelling when seen up close. I see the Audi A6 resemblance as pointed out up above in the comments, but don’t think that’s a bad thing. I wouldn’t exactly say it looks like an Audi either, just that they share some similar lines. The interior is certainly a letdown (the center stack looks like GM from 10 years ago) but I could live with it, it’s not unpleasant.
I think the long front/short rear overhang really works for Citroen (and no one else) because it reflects their whole “Traction AVANT” message so clearly; everything about the car is fully committed to its front-wheel-driveyness rather than being just another compromise of packaging and traditional proportions.
In order of favorite big Citroens I go DS-CX-C6-XM, which is probably pretty standard… but I love all of them and the CX Prestige Turbo may actually take the top spot for me if we got more specific. The DS9 Johannes posted in the comments looks incredible and I really, really, really hope they build that, not that I’ll ever be able to buy one (unless I win the lottery and move to Europe). I can’t get over how exactly right up my alley that is… I don’t like the wheels either, but everything else I’m completely in love with. They’ve even found a way to somehow integrate a 1960 GM “flying wing” type appendage into a fastback roof. Get out of my brain, Citroen!
I’ve read that it, or at least some brand new Citroën flagship, will be introduced. However, no one (except PSA I guess) knows when. The DS9 concept is 4.93 m long; a bit shorter than a current MB S-class.
I worked at Ford’s Powertrain Ops and Engine Engineering Building in ’06. One of the garage bays held a beautiful dark blue Citroen C6 (M-plate of course) that would sometimes be out on the street.
I’d love to be the engineer who could take that thing home for the weekend.
What’s an M-plate Nick?