The Truth About Cars » Citroen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 11:00:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Citroen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/citroen/ Jackson First Female Head Of Citroën In PSA Executive Realignment http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/jackson-first-female-head-of-citroen-in-psa-executive-realignment/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/jackson-first-female-head-of-citroen-in-psa-executive-realignment/#comments Thu, 08 May 2014 10:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=817794 Citroen CEO Linda Jackson

Managing director of PSA Peugeot-Citroën’s Citroën UK & Ireland Linda Jackson will now have oversight over the entire Citroën brand as its first-ever female CEO.

Autoblog reports Jackson, who managed the brand’s presence across the Channel since 2010, will take her new role as outgoing CEO Fréderic Banzet takes up a senior position in Peugeot’s holding group Société foncière financière et de participations (FPP). Jackson also brings 35 years of financial and commercial experience in the automotive industry to the table.

Both Jackson and Citroën deputy CEO Yves Bonnefont — who will head the DS diffusion line — will take their new roles June 1, and both will report directly to new PSA CEO Carlos Tavares as members of the automaker’s executive committee. A replacement for Jackson will be announced at a later date.

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Citroën Bestows First Premium DS Model Upon China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/citroen-bestows-first-premium-ds-model-upon-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/citroen-bestows-first-premium-ds-model-upon-china/#comments Wed, 25 Dec 2013 00:53:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=687666 2014 Citroën DS 5LS 04
Unveiled at a special event in Paris last week, Citroën’s DS 5LS is the French automaker’s first premium variant of the DS sub-brand. Don’t expect to park this one at the Louvre, however; the DS 5LS is destined solely for the Chinese market.

The 5LS will be the second DS model built at Citroën’s new factory in Shenzhen after the DS5, and will be followed by a China-exclusive SUV and the new DS3 later on in 2014, as well as a larger executive sedan based on the DS9 concept in 2015.

Unlike its hot-hatch brethren, the traditional sedan was made with the Chinese market (and German competitors, such as the Audi A3 Saloon and Mercedes-Benz CLA) in mind. Thus, it measures 185 inches with a 106-inch wheelbase — perfect for party members being chauffeured from Bejing to Macau for a bit of gambling — has a 16-cubic foot trunk, and the interior is filled with opulent materials and high-tech goodies including reversing camera, massaging seats, and air purification.

Under the hood, the front wheels will be driven by either a 1.6-liter turbo providing around 160 to 200 horsepower or a 132-horsepower VTi, with power directed by a six-speed automatic transmission in the 1.6-liter options.

The DS sub-brand aims to move 200,000 units by 2015, along with bringing its home factory up to full capacity. Fifty DS Stores are also planned to open in the largest cities in China in an effort to drive more interest in the 5LS and subsequent models.

The 5LS will make its home market debut during the 2014 Beijing Auto Show this coming April.

2014 Citroën DS 5LS 01 2014 Citroën DS 5LS 02 2014 Citroën DS 5LS 03 2014 Citroën DS 5LS 04 ]]>
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Review: Citroen DS5 Hybrid 4 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/review-citroen-ds5-hybrid-4/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/review-citroen-ds5-hybrid-4/#comments Thu, 03 May 2012 12:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=442498

I hate France. I hate it with a vengeance.  Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of landing at Charles De Gaulle Airport will understand what I mean. So when a colleague from “Die Welt” (“The World”, a major German newspaper) returned from his drive of the Citroen DS5 and excitedly exclaimed “This is the best French car in 20 years!”, we haters just laughed. He might as well have returned covered in pustules, exclaiming “This is my best syphilis infection in 20 years!” I also hate hybrids. This too is easily comprehensible by anyone who has a look at the smug ignoramuses driving these ugly gravity lenses. And I hate diesel. It is the fuel of lorries and Satan.

So now I’m looking at a car that is all three of these things: the Citroen DS5 Hybrid4. It’s also a spaceship full of chrome. Elvis would approve, but still buy a Cadillac. It’s quite good-looking in a overdesigned way. You can appreciate it in the same way you’d enjoy a Hollywood set made of papier-mache. Those twin wide tailpipes? You can shake hands through them. The bulging bonnet? Half of it is empty space, interrupted only by a few spindly, rusting metal stripes that hold something in place.

The complex drivetrain has a diesel engine driving the front wheels with up to 120 kW and an electric motor driving the rear wheels part-time with up to 27 kW, but, due to a French penchant for unnecessary complexity, it puts out 20 kW in most situations. The main engineering effort went into the “Auto”-Mode, which is an economy mode that becomes completely overwhelmed if you try to actually *drive* the car: “Eek! Full throttle! What should I do? I’ll change down. No, up! Nnng… or better down again? I think I’ll start the electric motor and go have some coffee…”

Every gear change of the automated manual transmission takes *years*, in which the car slows down. Despite a plethora of windows, you can’t see the road very well. It’s hopeless. It gets better in “Sport”, but the facade crumbles quickly. Regardless of mode, frugal it isn’t: I logged between 24 to 34 mpg in “Auto” – not from the guesswork of a French dashboard computer, but from real measurements over 1500 miles. An old 2003 BMW 320d we had as a company car did nearly 40 mpg on the same routes under the same driver.

At this point we have lost the internet-ADD crowd, and can work with the small, but patient segment that is game for more in-depth analysis. The DS5 can be quite wonderful as soon as you stop trying to go quickly. Sure, the chassis can corner at high speeds, which suits the “never brake” school of economy and range. But just sit back, relax, coast along, caress the throttle, and it becomes a very nice rolling lounge in that funky French. Yes, the hybrid drive costs more money than it can ever save, which even Citroen themselves admit. But you don’t buy it to save money. You buy it because it is a cool technical gimmick to own. You can have permanent 4WD in winter, when you drive up to the chalet with your skis. You can silently return to your garage at night on the electric drive alone. The DS5 is quiet at all speeds, a truly nice place to chat and trundle along the motorway no matter what distance . I sit,, listening to Isabelle Boulay on the car stereo, and began to feel some kind of affinity with the French. If they built this, perhaps they can be, in a very far future, forgiven for also having built CDG.

So, should you consider buying one? No. The boot is ridiculously small for the exterior size and if you fold the rear seats down, the battery still intrudes into the cargo area. It’s useless as a family car. And judging from what a bit of spring rain did to mine, by the time a DS5 has completed its journey over the atlantic, you will have bought 1.8 tons of pure rust. No, you shouldn’t buy one yourself.

But you should try to convince your company to lease you one. As a long distance hauler that belongs to someone else, it is superb. It is also a symbol of what Citroen excels at; being interesting, being playful, being brave, being (yes) French, being everything that something like an Opel isn’t. I cannot in clean conscience recommend buying a DS5 H4 for yourself, but I want to recommend watching Citroen closely, and even giving one a try. They might surprise you. They surprised me.

“Clemens Gleich is German writer and aspires to mad scientist mainly by experimenting on himself. He covers topics from cars and motorcycles to nucular power generators and the nanoscopic silicon baby kittens that die in their billions every time you open up Youporn. You can try a Google translate on www.mojomag.de for further education on this. It’s better for the kittens.”

citroen-thumb Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail IMG_0668 IMG_0663 IMG_0588 IMG_0580 IMG_0556 IMG_0547 IMG_0539 Photo courtesy Clemens Gleich. IMG_0324 IMG_0302 Citroen DS5 Hybrid4. Photo courtesy Citroen. IMG_0674 ]]>
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Review: Citroen C1 ev’ie http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/review-citroen-c1-evie/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/review-citroen-c1-evie/#comments Mon, 07 Dec 2009 16:16:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=338318 evie5

The Toyota Aygo, which is the (in-all-but-styling) identical twin of the Citroen C1, is a fine little car, and when I tested it in 2007, I found most everything about it likeable. Packaging, finish, styling, handling, pleasure of driving: the Aygo/C1 turned out to be a thoroughly modern and enjoyable car for a bare-bones price. Only the ride struck me as a bit harsh. I certainly didn’t complain about the revvy, pleasant-sounding and parsimonious engine either, so you might be surprised to hear that I like the electrified version of the C1 just as well. Or, with qualifications, even more. What the heck do I mean? Please bear with me, and I’ll tell you.

evie1The U.K. – based Electric Car Company (ECC) was founded by a guy who made his fortune with electronic traffic management systems. Intrigued with the idea of a zero-emission car, he tried some out, and thought he could easily do a whole lot better. The ev’ie, thus, does not look like something some blokes in a garage screw together in their spare evenings. What ECC does is buy C1s, remove the engine and gas tank, and add batteries, motor, heater, and an engine-management system. Open the hood and you see batteries and various electronic gizmos mostly bedecked by plastic casing. It looks clean and assembly-line standard, and not at all improvised. A second set of Lithium batteries is where the gas tank used to be. The trunk, in contrast to the sodium-batteried E-Twingo, is undiminished. So the ev’ie is what the stock C1 is what the Aygo is what the Peugeot 107 is: a lightweight, almost Smart-short car that can transport four and a tiny bit of luggage. (Don’t get me wrong: this is no limo, but it certainly beats an original VW Beetle for space. And the room in front is perfectly adequate in all dimensions unless you’re a widebody).

Incidentally, the ev’ie’s interior has optional plastichrome highlights I have never seen on a C1 outside of the U.K. I don’t like it, but that may just be a German complaining about British taste.

So what’s it like to drive? Well, you buckle up, turn the key, watch the battery indicator lights (where the tachometer is on regular C1s) fire up, and put the car in “forward” gear (there’s also a neutral and rear gear, but no clutch). When you disengage the hand brake and press on the gas pedal, you hear a soft zingy electric sound well-known to those who travel on streetcars or high-speed trains. As you start moving, the zingy sound disappears and then… nothing. Basically no motor sound at all. It’s eerie and somewhat different from other EVs I have driven. evie11

I drove the ev’ie through London in Kensington and Westminster, and with the help of ECC’s Richard Turnbull who knows where traffic cameras are located, was able to take it up to semi-highway speed. Here’s my verdict. Not fast, but acceptable acceleration, and zero drama: overall very pleasant.

Don’t discount the zero drama thing. Within minutes, you stop missing the vibration, the non-linear acceleration, the various noise levels, of internal-combustion driving. You do suffer from a kind of disorientation from a while, not quite knowing how fast you’re going, which in combination with left-hand-side driving (I don’t often drive in the U.K), forced me to concentrate. But the overall effect is relaxing. No wonder: a linear speed-to-noise relationship is something we know from all kinds of propulsion, except airflight and ICE motoring.

As in the stock C1, the steering is fine, with the right level of directness and assistance. If I had to qualify a difference, I’d say the ev’ie feels more solid. The regenerative braking system, which charges the batteries when you lift off the gas pedal or brake, is smooth and capable.

So all is well on the electric front? Not quite. With a top speed of 60 mph and a reported distinct wheeziness on higher-speed hills, this is no more than an urban/suburban car. The electric-utility boss in Zurich I wrote about: he’d be less than satisfied with 41HP pushing 890KG, which is a power-to-weight ratio of a 1960s Beetle. (You do have all the torque the motor can muster – 112lb ft– from standstill, though). And the range is only 60 miles, so forget vacationing with ev’ie.

evie3But nevertheless: it’s the only really good-to-drive, affordable, crashworthy, zero-emission car on the market today. Which is sure saying something! But does it make any financial sense at all? Electric cars are famously expensive. Well, prime your inner nerd and allow me to do the data thing, please.

The ev’ie costs about £18,500, which is a whopping £8,000 more than a stock C1. A utility charges 90 pence for around 60 miles worth of electricity. Assuming a yearly mileage of 10,000 miles per year based on 50 miles/day and 200 commuting days, the ev’ie would thus require electricity costing around £144 per year. Fuel costs, in contrast, would amount to £1,144, if one assumed a cost of £1.1 per liter and a fuel consumption of 6.5L/100km (equivalent to 36.2 MPG US). The difference, according to this calculation, would be one thousand Pounds ($1,645) per year. At current prices, therefore, a commuter would need over seven years to amortize the cost of the ev’ie in comparison to a stock C1. Even at these formidable European fuel price levels. Bummer!

But wait. In the U.K., an electric car costs less in insurance, and zero in road tax too. Both can easily add up to £200 per year. But that’s only the beginning. In London, and soon in many other U.K. towns, there is a congestion charge for gasoline cars – but none for electrics. Which saves you £1,600 based on a commute to London 200 days a year. And parking, depending on which community you stay in, is much cheaper for an EV. In Westminster, for example, it’s £200 per year for the ev’ie, as opposed to £4,000 for a normal car. Not enough? The U.K government plans a £5k purchasing incentive for electric cars starting in 2011. But even at the present time, incentives in an electric-evie4friendly place like the U.K easily add up to a cost advantage of £2k to £7k per year, so you can recoup the cost of this car within 2-3 years. At which point it becomes almost compelling, even without thinking about global warming, emissions, terrorists and foreign oil despots, or rising fuel costs. Or without looking at the trend lines: that petroleum-based transport is fated to become more expensive year by year, while the cost of batteries is set to sink.

Of course, the ev’ie only makes sense because the U.K. government has determined that the negative externalities (the “costs to society”) of electric cars are much lower than those of a petroleum-engined one, and has changed its charge regime accordingly. Other governments are following suit, like it or not.

Bottom line: the first reasonable electric car is a Citroen that some fellows in Hertfordshire convert to a feasible proposition, to a pleasant and safely-driving vehicle, in 24 man-hours. This sure isn’t a car for everybody; its range and speed limitations means it excels as a commuter but not as anything else. But it does throws mud in the face of most of the major car makers. evie5 evie1 evie3 evie4 evie6 evie11 evie9 evie5-thumb Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Review: 1999 Citroen Xantia (a.k.a. Boy Meets Ring) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/07/boy-meets-ring/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/07/boy-meets-ring/#comments Sat, 11 Jul 2009 19:34:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=322679

I could feel it getting closer. I heard the flat sixes at WOT nearby. I caught a glimpse of a lime-green race car flying by us. Martin and I were minutes from the one place I’d always wanted to go. I’d seen it countless times on Top Gear. I’d played it countless times on Xbox. And here I was, in Eifel, meeting up with Capt. Mike and Martin Schwoerer, about to turn videogame dreams into reality. To put it succinctly, there was no way the real-life Nurburgring could live up to my expectations. But it did.]]>

I could feel it getting closer. I heard the flat sixes at WOT nearby. I caught a glimpse of a lime-green race car flying by us. Martin and I were minutes from the one place I’d always wanted to go. I’d seen it countless times on Top Gear. I’d played it countless times on Xbox. And here I was, in Eifel, meeting up with Capt. Mike and Martin Schwoerer, about to turn videogame dreams into reality. To put it succinctly, there was no way the real-life Nurburgring could live up to my expectations. But it did.

The paddocks alone proved to be an automotive treasure trove. On this particular day, Martin and I ran into a group of Lagonda/Rapier enthusiasts. Peeling back the (unpainted aluminium) bonnet on a 1935 Rapier revealed a 74-year-old twin-cam straight four.

“They had twin cams in the 1930s” was all I could say.

In contrast, the owner of a TVR Chimera told us that he traded in his 911 on the TVR because the Porsche felt “too clinical.” The TVR, he said, brought a smile to his face every time he turned the key. “You’re just smiling because it actually started!” teased Mike, drawing a hearty laugh.

There were serious cars too. These paddocks had more M-cars and 911 GT3s than Hondas. All the owners were friendly and willing to talk. It seemed they needed to tell me about their cars more than I needed to hear it, but I was happy to listen just the same. Years of being a lone pistonhead in my own social circle made me appreciate these rare moments.

Martin and I walked the paddocks a bit longer until we spotted an RX-7 which was obviously race-prepped. Covered in tuner stickers, dropped to about 1 millimeter off the ground, with a wing that came off an Airbus, it was a serious machine. Without warning, it emitted a gunshot-like pop.

“That’s first gear,” I said.

“That’s a racing transmission,” agreed Martin.

As we waited for the track to open to the public, I went to the fence adorning the back straight. Track-prepped GT3s and M3s were duking it out, like German deities at war. Each car graced us with a glorious paean as it passed at full throttle.

“Martin, I don’t want to bore you, but I could listen to these cars go by until the track opens,” I said. Martin laughed. It was a pure “car guy” moment.

We walked around some more until we saw the Rapiers queuing at the lift gate. It was 17:30 and the track was now open. Martin decided we’d do a lap.

“You want to drive your Citroën on the ring?” I said.

“You’re going to drive it.”

“Me?” I replied. I wasn’t sure all of a sudden. It could be expensive. Broken guard rails cost thousands of Euros! Fortunately, my other head assumed control. “Okay, let’s go.”

“Do you want to drive it on the back roads first? Get a feel for it?” Martin asked.

“Fuck it, I’ll sort it out on the track.”

Twenty-two Euros later, we were peeling out of the blocks. Rookie mistake! A chicane of cones before turn one made us slow down drastically. It would be the first, but not the last time, I’d torture those poor Citroën brakes.

“You can always tell the first-timers who don’t know about the cones,” Mike teased.

After about fifteen turns, I’d figured out the cars driving limits. I kept it on 9/10ths for a few minutes, until the once-rigid brakes began to feel spongy. “Martin, I think the brakes are leaving us!” Minutes later, the smell of disk blanketed the cabin.

Wanting to preserve brakes, I took a safer line, hitting the beginner apexes and waving other cars through. When a sport-bike tempted me to follow him, though, I did. In the straights, he dusted me. In the corners, I could come to within a few feet of him. In the karousel, he was history—until history repeated itself in the next straight.

Eventually, I settled into a zen-like trance, taking corner after corner without much conscious thought. After one apex, I gave it the beans at just the right time and the car came straight almost by itself. It was a perfect turn. I’d found automotive Nirvana, in a Citroën, of all things.

When we hit the back straight, I stapled the pedal to the floor. We hit the ceiling at 171, even though we’d hit 180 on the autobahn on the way to the ring. We never figured out why the Cit’ didn’t want to go faster on the ring. French cars, you know.

Finally, it was over. I pulled back into the paddocks. A fleeting feeling of sadness overcame me. I knew right then I would come back.

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Review: 1975 Citroen 2CV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/07/review-1975-citroen-2cv/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/07/review-1975-citroen-2cv/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2009 22:09:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=320524

It was our first drive on the French autoroute. The highway, heretofore flat, began to climb, all but imperceptibly. Imperceptibly that is, except to the drivers of the Deux Chevaux, cars that look like old Beetles made of corrugated barn roofing. Suddenly, the Deux Chevaux were moving en mass into the far right lane, putt-putting ever more loudly as they struggled vainly to maintain momentum. “Ooooh!” exclaimed Miriam, my two and a half year old sister. “Dudebos fall out!”]]>

It was our first drive on the French autoroute. The highway, heretofore flat, began to climb, all but imperceptibly. Imperceptibly that is, except to the drivers of the Deux Chevaux, cars that look like old Beetles made of corrugated barn roofing. Suddenly, the Deux Chevaux were moving en masse into the far right lane, putt-putting ever more loudly as they struggled vainly to maintain momentum. “Ooooh!” exclaimed Miriam, my two and a half year old sister. “Dudebos fall out!”

To a kid whose automotive ideal was the ’64 Impala Super Sport, the Deux Chevaux was a piece of crap. Two cylinders, seats of canvas slung over pipes, weights for shocks. The Deuches leaned in corners like sail boats tacking in the wind. Danielle, our landlady’s young adult daughter, claimed to have seen one roll thrice while rounding the Arc de Triomphe. My American friends and I, all seventh graders at the Lycee de Sevres, would grab the rear bumpers and bounce Deux Chevaux. My baby sister’s tongue may have been all thumbs, but she was already acquiring skill in the art of the tease. She dubbed me “Dagy Dudebo.”

Little did I know that the Deux Chevaux was an engineering marvel that had done for France what the Model T did for America, and an icon whose obituary would grace the front page of the New York Times on March 9, 1988, after 40 years and nearly 4 million vehicles, or that the Deuche would become a cult object. Every summer, a drove of Deux Chevaux congregates in Saratoga Springs.

Recently, I spotted a Deuche plying Massachusetts Avenue in Lexington, Massachusetts. I spun a U-eee, and followed it home. It’s a ’75, which photographer Jon Chomitz has owned for the last ten years. This car’s Belgian manufacture accounts for the plush furniture—real seat cushions!—but for the most part, the car is the square root of basic.

Each of this 1,200 pound Deuche’s 28 horses pulls 42.8 lbs, less than a pound more than a ’65 Beetle with a bad case of the slows that I drove for TTAC last fall. In my imagination, 2CVs are doomed to struggle in perpetuity against the laws of physics, like some automotive Sisyphus. But the 2CV amazed me with its pep—perhaps partly because Chomitz had advised me to maintain around 4,000 RPM, but more so because this thing was a big step up from the 425 cc Deuches of my year in France. The Dudebos must have stopped falling out after they introduced the 602 cc power plant in 1968. Compared to the Old Beetle, this one felt almost athletic climbing Lexington’s Six Moon Hill.

[Digression for local car color: Moon Hill, a residential community designed by The Architect’s Collaborative, associates of Walter Gropius, in the late ’40s, was named for the six Moon automobiles found in a barn on the property around that time.]

Nonetheless, the overriding strategy for driving a Deux Chevaux is to maintain your momentum, Chomitz advised. I did that—unfortunately without interruption as I approached the curve on Philip Road. It was tighter than I had anticipated, and though I steered hard, at maybe 25 mph the stubborn little Deuche refused to respond in kind. Fortunately, the oncoming lane was empty.

While the Duck—a term of affection for Deuches in much of Europe—is the antithesis of American land barges, it has their floaty, boaty feel, even over washboard surfaces. Still, it does an admirable job of holding the road over said surfaces. This has to do with exceptionally low unsprung weight, and some clever connections between front and rear suspension, which, when a front wheel hits a bump, cause the same-side rear suspension to elongate, or vice versa, maintaining the car’s level position. Had I been unable to see the dirt road, I would barely have known that the pavement had ended. The car felt as if it might float gently into the air.

The simplicity that I had scorned in my youth is one of the Deux Chevaux’s signal virtues. “Most parts are designed to function with the simplest, most spare design,” says Chomitz. For example, the engine is air cooled, the cooling fan and dynamo are integral with the one-piece crankshaft, rendering drive belts unnecessary, and the 2CV pioneered the distributorless ignition system. The Deuche cheats Murphy’s Law.

Quality is equally important. “What other car engine could run at 5,000 RPM all day in 1948,” says Chomitz. “The engine internals were built to a much higher precision than any other car of the day so they could get the most out of it. This was unheard of in a cheap car.” Amazingly, the 28 horsepower is rated at 7,000 RPM.

From Philip Road, we breezed towards Lexington Center and the Battle Green, along paths once trodden by Paul Revere and George Washington. The people waved to us along the route: Chomitz obviously gets around in this thing. Nicholas Joseph Cugnot, the Frenchman who invented the automobile in 1769, and Andre Citroën, founder of the eponymous company, would have been proud.

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Citroen C6 Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/09/citroen-c6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/09/citroen-c6/#comments Wed, 20 Sep 2006 13:51:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=2278 citroen-c6.jpg The space-oddity known as the Citroen DS was the last successful French executive saloon. Every French grand routier since the “Goddess” has been disappointing to various degrees. Today, even in Paris, one sees more German cars than French (even the taxis). So my expectations for the new Citroen C6 were not high; especially as I’d spent considerable seat time in the segment’s gold standard: the Audi A8. Can the French still parlez voitures luxes? ]]> citroen-c6.jpg The space-oddity known as the Citroen DS was the last successful French executive saloon. Every French grand routier since the “Goddess” has been disappointing to various degrees. Today, even in Paris, one sees more German cars than French (even the taxis). So my expectations for the new Citroen C6 were not high; especially as I’d spent considerable seat time in the segment’s gold standard: the Audi A8. Can the French still parlez voitures luxes?

The ‘Troon’s profile is interesting, long and ministerial. From the three quarter angle, it looks like a conventional hatchback (it’s not). The front and rear aspects are brand faithfully quirky, requiring some major acclimatization. The C6’s prow is dominated by two horizontal chrome strips that connect medium-sized headlights and bisect the radiator opening. The back window is deeply concave a la CX. The narrow strip taillights ride atop the rear fenders and form slight fins reminiscent of a ’49 Buick.

c6dash.jpg Open the front door (with frameless glass like a Subaru or, come to think of it, a DS) and settle into the large, firm black leather chairs. The C6’s window lowers a few millimeters to clear the seal, and then powers back up after the door closed, BMW coupe-style. Nice. And then things get a bit strange…

The C6’s dashboard is a broad, full-width horizontal shelf clad in a strange (but oddly appealing) black vinyl cover with a linen-like texture, topped by a smallish navigation/ICE display. A two inch strip of glossy faux hardwood– with a striking black-stained grain— runs across the Citroen sedan’s cockpit. Another petite digital display lives behind a hefty leather-clad wheel covered with two big chrome chevrons. (The wheel has three spokes, not one like the iconic Deesse.) Speed and navigational arrows appear in the lower windshield’s heads-up display.

The C6’s four door panels are dominated by large slide-down covers for generous lower storage, made from the same exotic looking wood as the dash strip. Like all of the C6’s other moving parts, the panels are dampened to a degree that would freak Ferdinand Piech. The door handles exchange the fashionable satin look of Germany’s premium rides for shiny chrome. Bright but tasteful chrome strips also line the lower dash and the door panels. All in all, the C6’s cabin’s very different, in a BCBG kinda way.

Once underway, the C6 drives like the A8. The French car’s structure is absolutely granitic; no creaks, rattles, squeaks or buzzes. Other than a bit more wind rustle and less tire noise, the boulevardier’s noise levels match that of Ingolstadt’s aluminum cruiser. The ride is also similar: soft but not floaty, with little lean in corners. The power steering is Japanese-light at parking speed but firms up nicely above 25 kmph.

c6side.jpgI drove to the C6 in an diesel-powered Audi; one of the least diesel-like cars I’ve ever driven (very quiet and very fast). I’d been told beforehand that the Citroen tester would holster either a petrol or diesel V6. After driving off, I was sure I was behind the wheel of the gas-powered C6. Only the redline was 5000 rpm. Once it stopped raining, I pulled over and popped the hood. The plastic engine cover said “V6 HDI” Formidable!  Diesel-starved Americans note: the engine was developed as a joint venture with Ford. It’s already is available in various Peugeots, Jaguars and Land Rovers.

I drove the C6 all over Holland, on freeways and secondary roads. The overall driving experience was a hoot, and a deluxe hoot at that. The car glided with imperious ease, a true GT with Gallic charm. But there were a few glitches. The navigational system was hard to program and unreliable; it would go off course inexplicably, guiding me in circles or repetitive U-turns. Whenever I tried to reclose an open window at speed the high interior air pressure prevented the windows from sealing properly.

2007-citroen-c6-undeniably-french-c-640.jpg You want weird science? The C6 lane drift control system is both ingenious and kinky, in a distinctly French sort of way. If you leave your lane “unintentionally” (i.e. without using the turn indicators), the driver’s seat cushion vibrates rhythmically as a warning. It bumps your left cheek if you are veering left, and the right one if right. The first time it happened I nearly crashed (no one had warned me about the feature.) Meanwhile, the C6’s climate control system resurrects the VW Phaeton’s “soft diffusion” methodology, indirectly spreading cooled or heated air around the cabin in four zones. I was never aware of it, so I guess it works pretty well.

Et voila! Here at last is a French luxobarge that European executives and bureaucrats can enjoy that can compete with similar cars from Germany, England or Japan. It’s different and a worthy successor to the DS. Tant pis pour les Americains, bub.

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