By on October 11, 2012

50 Cabinet ministers, judges and high ranking police officials in Israel were offered the choice of a new state car this past summer, and had the option of a BMW 528i or a Citroen C5. 28 of the 50, mostly cabinet ministers, picked the Citroen after a significant public backlash surrounded the BMWs.

With growing social unrest over unaffordable housing prices, picking a $79,000 BMW as one’s taxpayer-funded car would be rather unseemly. Instead, the $46,555 Citroen C5 will be employed by top government officials, including Israel’s chief central banker. But according to Israeli business publication Globes, even the C5 is

“Not the regular Citroen C5 that Israelis buy, but the executive version (which is not sold much in Israel), equipped with all the bells and whistles, including leather seats and a multimedia system, but still a Citroen C5 – a large vehicle with an image of a grey-collar car, and without the pretentiousness of a luxury brand.”

BMW reportedly offered discounts in line with the Citroen’s retail price, but the ensuing backlash led to the overwhelming adoption of the Citroen. During the last round of state car tenders, officials could choose between an Audi A6 and the Skoda Superb, with most choosing the Audi. This time around, an election is coming up sooner rather than later, and public perception matters much more, especially with Israelis caring deeply about “social justice” issues. Not mentioned officially (but felt deeply) was the issue of the appropriateness of taxpayer funded German cars. Skoda seems to get a pass due to the little known Czech-Israel arms connection, and most cabinet ministers had no qualms about the Audis; but there’s a reason Ariel Sharon drove a Volvo and Meir Dagan was loyal to Peugeot.

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50 Comments on “Citroen C5 Beats BMW 528i As Israel’s New State Car...”


  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    What exactly is a ‘pubic’ backlash?….sounds like something out of “50 shades of Grey”… (last sentence, first paragraph)

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Remove the ‘e’ from Citroen and you have a citron. Irony or a warning?

  • avatar
    kitzler

    Hey Danio, I imagine these Citrons (Lemons) come with a full maintenance service and complimentary gas, who could turn down such a deal (Such a deal)

  • avatar

    To be completely honest, not as a car guy but as a sane person, in any political or economic climate I’d rather see my leaders driving a BMW than a Citroen. In the grand scheme of things what they drive, on the citizens dime or otherwise, is not a pressing matter.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Several years ago i was in France on business and rented a diesel C5. That car was great. It had superb handling, a fantastic ride and the diesel got great fuel economy. At times I was doing 110 MPH on the Autoroute and it stll returned around 35 MPG. At the time, I wish they sold those cars here in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      mannygg

      Did you really think it handled that well? I rented a c5 a few months ago and thought it was the remotest feeling car I had driven in a long time. The ride was nice and it looked pretty good, but I didn’t enjoy driving it at all. Sloppy steering, lots of body roll and a really rough little diesel engine.

      I would much rather have the 5 series option.

  • avatar

    I heard about pubic lashes, but pubic backlashes?

  • avatar
    kitzler

    Very glad a few of you guys read the fine print, should make Derek feel real good, at least his column is read thoroughly

  • avatar

    This story makes me happy.

    There are enough flipping BMW 5ers in the world. Not enough Citroens, with their funky designs and reverse curve rear windows. Just not enough of that.

    I still want a C6.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    If these are mostly chauffeur-driven, as most of these kind of high ranking government cars are, then the Citroen, which is famous for its ride, makes more sense than a BMW, which is famous for its handling…

    • 0 avatar
      silverkris

      I agree. BMW’s also have a bit less interior space relative to similar-sized/comparable competitor makes, either

      Israel has traditionally a very egalitarian, informal, relatively non-hierarchical social dynamic, and this extends to their political and military leaders. Titles aren’t used very much, Netanyahu is known by everyone as “Bibi”. Buck privates will grill generals, junior employees will do the same with C-level executives. My impression is that more so in Israel, it is less acceptable than in other nations for top state officials to have flashy transport. Back in the 1970s, Prime Minister Golda Meir lived in a relatively modest apartment, and customarily would personally serve tea to visitors who called on her. I heard that she, Ben-Gurion, Dayan, Sharon (at the time) and other major political leaders often tooled around in rather pleabian Dodge Darts. Maybe it’s changed a bit today, though.

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        I think Darts and Valiants may have been assembled in Israel from CKDs for a time, if that’s the case, I could see them wanting to use a “domestic” car, provided it wasn’t a plastic bodied Sabra.

        Darts were sold as something of an executive car in Israel, with better finished interiors and a higher level of equipment than was common in the US, and were quite popular. Remember, it was a compact by American standards but still quite a good-sized car by world standards.

      • 0 avatar
        Joe McKinney

        Some of the last Studebakers ever built were 1966 models assembled in Israel from CKDs in 1967. Quite a few of these were used as patrol cars by Israeli police.

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        @Joe McKinney

        That might have been what I was thinking of. The Darts and Valiants were popular and well regarded, but they might not have been locally built.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Given the billions in foreign aid we send them as if they were still a poor struggling country, would it have killed them if the government gave their officials a choice of, say, a Fusion or a 300?

    • 0 avatar
      dejal1

      Good point.

      At the very least have this provision: “Here’s the money, all government purchases of XXXXX products must be USA products up to the amount of aid being given”.

      XXXXX products could be cars, trucks, bulldozers, backhoes, cranes, medicines, bullets, hand grenades, forklifts. That would keep some manufacturer in the US going for a couple of days.

      Don’t like it? Don’t take the $$$$s.

    • 0 avatar
      Nostrathomas

      Very good point. Considering the billions of “aid” the flows to Israel from the US, there should definitely be a requirement for them to buy American goods (and not just military goods). Even if it’s just optically as a thank you gesture, that’s the least America deserves for keeping that country alive.

    • 0 avatar
      iainthornton

      Because of course, the United States is the only country which has ever helped Israel.

      I’m glad they chose the C5. It’s a terrific car. Every time I get out of a ‘big’ PSA car I wish I was back in it.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The C5 is a much better-looking car – good choice.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    am amazed Israel would even consider a French car, especially after that statement by the French ambassador in London a few years back, denigrating the country. as far as the C%, it borrowed its looks from a Ford Focus, probably stolen intellectual property too.

    • 0 avatar
      moedaman

      I’m surprised/disappointed that the government would have their officials chose between a French and a German car. Both countries have an ugly history of anti-semitism.

      • 0 avatar
        Synchromesh

        Andre Citroen was Jewish which might explain a few things.

        I am kind of surprised about the BMWs and Audis though. Israel state heads in German cars? That just seems wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        I agree, although not for the reasons you cite. I’d figure there would be a push to buy American (Chrysler 300, CTS, etc.)

        Israel uses German made subs, taxis, etc. The relationship between the 2 countries if positive, something that really is hard to believe, but is true.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “Israel uses German made subs, taxis, etc. The relationship between the 2 countries if positive, something that really is hard to believe, but is true.”

        Agree. What other country’s Interior Minister would *personally* offer to exchange himself for Israeli prisoners? There is immense German guilt, and Germany bends over backwards to have a good relationship with Israel, much like the US does.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    That photo of the C5 has me very aroused.

    The fastest way to get me hot & bothered is with a quiet, serene, SMOOTH ride.

    I’m this close [holding up my thumb and index finger) to importing a Citroën C6 to the states.

  • avatar
    -Cole-

    I wonder what Palestine’s new state car is…

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Interesting. I had as friends a Jewish couple of the “Greatest Generation” vintage. He was a lawyer, a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black who became a New Dealer and ended his career in the public sector as an assistant Sec. Defense in the Truman administration. She was an MD (unusual for her generation) who worked a military hospitals in the Washington DC area during the war. Neither of them would think of owning a German or a Japanese car.
    They’re both long gone now, but I wonder how much of their “institutional memory” lingers in Israel.

    • 0 avatar

      It still exists with the children of Holocaust survivors. Their grandkids are happy to get a Benz or BMW for their 16th.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        I often thought it was the grandkids of survivors who got the indoctrination because kids typically ignore their parents, but the grandkids always heard grandma’s stories. I had a several Jewish friends whose parents had German cars, but they wouldn’t get one themselves.

        That said, in either case, it’s certainly not even close to a universal attitude, and I also had a friend whose dad always drove a Volvo or Lexus and couldn’t bring himself to buy German.

        Either one is better than the typical Navigator/Escalade that politicians typically have as taxpayer-funded cars here.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    That was Dominique Strauss Kahn in the backseat of that C5, but I hear he prefers BMW’s…. funny how most heads of State always show up in a Mercedes, the French are the only officials who sit in a Renault, was it Safrane, Vel Satis, Avantime, what will it be next? Citroen may not be around much longer unless Peugeot can find a solution.

    • 0 avatar
      iainthornton

      It’s interesting. In Britain our last two Prime Ministers had a Chrysler Grand Voyager (the name of the Town & Country here, obviously) and a Prius respectively. The current Prime Minister (David Cameron) has a Jaguar XJ. I was ashamed when the worldwide-broadcast marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge showed the Deputy Prime Minister arriving in a BMW 7-Series. I feel it sends a bad message when a high member of government shows such little faith in the industry of his country.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        That’s funny, although British cars were never known here in the US for reliablility, even if they were well-known for style. I feel like many American politicians go out of their way to buy American cars (John Kerry’s Tahoe, Mitt Romney’s multiple Cadillacs). I have one friend who kept buying Chrysler POS convertibles because he one day possibly wanted to go into politics. Not sure why he didn’t get a Mustang convertible instead.

        That said, I suspect a good number of Congressmen in more urban/suburban districts had Toyotas when they actually drove themselves around, regardless of which party.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        iain, I didn’t realize Britain had any significant industry left.

        I quit buying Doc Martens now that most of them are made in China (okay….okay…I quit buying them long before then).

        Even Doc Martens!!!

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Would the mohel from the classic SNL Royal Deluxe II parody approve?

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7ms5l_saturday-night-live-royal-deluxe-ii_fun

  • avatar
    Sooke

    “Andre Citroen was Jewish which might explain a few things.”

    And maybe because Citroen helped Charles De Gaulle survive an assassination attempt.

    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/citroen-helps-de-gaulle-survive-assassination-attempt

  • avatar
    nidzovski

    I guess that this could explain everything http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybKpFvpvWsA

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    I currently own a Citroen C5 and I have had a BMW 535. They are both great cars but as different as chalk and cheese. The BMW was at its best when doing something illegal. (Speeding, hooning or carving corners). The Citroen is at its best for the other 95% of the time when I am just driving somewhere. It is very smooth, very quiet and very comfortable. Both cars required a bit of maintenance but it’s worth it. I can see why someone would choose either over the other.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    I don’t see why this is even a story – given the choice, I’d take the Citroen too. Hydropneumatic suspension FTW!


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