TTAC (well, mostly this writer) has been enthusiastic about low cost cars, which are sold in Europe and emerging markets as a kind of no-frills, back-to-basics type of motoring for people who might previously have been able to only afford a knackered used car or something with two wheels. But Citroen – whose parent company PSA has been conspicuously absent from this space – is about introduce a new kind of low-cost car: one that has more emphasis on style, and an even more intense focus on low cost of ownership.
“It took me a lot of time and patience to achieve a ‘Bridge To Gantry’ lap time under 10 minutes during the tourist drive sessions at the Nordschleife. This challenge was definitely for fun but also to prove it could be done with work, tenacity and a bit of madness too… This TUD3 diesel engine is known for its poor reliability and I went through 9 engines and 5 gearboxes!”
We’re all aware by now how far manufactures go to validate their new sports car by posting a timed YouTube video of their prized new toy, worth at least tens of thousands of dollars, barreling down the Nürburgring at Vmax with some hot shoe driver. The ‘Ring time has started to become a regular, though often misguided, benchmark for how capable a car is.
Now, condense all of that determination, prestige and big-money manufacturer support; strip out the money and prestige, and add determined Frenchman with a diesel Citroën as he battles to break the magical 10-minute mark.
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.
There isn’t many weirder and more wonderful car in the world than a classic Citroën. Beginning with the “Goddess”, the famous and unique Citroën DS, they combine out-of-the-box technical solutions with quaint but gorgeous design. When the “déesse” arrived in 1955, it looked like something from another galaxy – and drove like that, too. The magnificent SM grand tourer, conceived in cooperation with Maserati added speed and glamour to the formula. And when the big CX replaced the venerable DS, it was still an aerodynamic fastback in a world full of boxy sedans, it still glided over the road like some eerie hovercraft, and with the DIRAVI steering and mushroom brake pedal, it provided a driving experience like nothing else. .
But for now, let’s focus on the redheaded step-child of the Citroën family, the XM. Introduced in 1989, it’s currently in the lowest part of the depreciation curve, loved only by hardcore Citroën enthusiasts. Because of the Citroën’s terrible reputation for reliability, especially when it comes to the unique hydropneumatic suspension, the average examples can be had for €1,000-1,500. And with the proliferation of large hatchbacks in 1980s and 1990s, it doesn’t even look that strange. It’s still unconventional, and it’s the kind of design you love more the more you look at it, but for average person, it’s just an old car.
PSA, parent company of Peugeot and Citroen, is said to be exploring a partnership with China’s Dongfeng, as Peugeot looks for ways to strengthen itself amid weak sales and a perpetually sputtering European car market.
As is surely the case for many of TTAC’s readers, cars aren’t my only passion in life. Early on in my college and young adult life, I spent many nights in the addictive limelight that only belongs to the performing musician. Being a saxophonist gave me a sort of versatility that not many other musicians had-R&B band one night, Ska/Punk the next, Jazz the next, and so on.
But the one music that has stayed consistent with me throughout my life has been the Blues. The Blues is present in all forms of American music-it’s the foundation of Rock and Roll, Country, Jazz…everything. One could make the argument that the Blues is America’s Classical music-much like the classical music of Europe, it’s based on folk tunes that have been passed down from generation to generation aurally, and it’s totally unique from region to region. Mississippi, New Orleans, Kansas City, Chicago. They each have their own brand of Blues that a true connoisseur can recognize immediately.
Europe’s second biggest automaker, PSA Peugeot Citroen, has gotten approval from the European Union for the French government to guarantee $9.28 billion (7 billion Euros) in bonds to provide Banque PSA Finance, the car maker’s finance arm, with funds so they can sell cars on credit at competitive interest rates.
Mired in the same overcapacity crisis as the rest of Europe’s auto makers, the founding family of PSA is reportedly willing to give up control of the company that owns Peugeot and Citroen in exchange for a fresh infusion of capital from GM, which currently owns 7 percent of PSA.
The rest of the world is becoming just as crossover obsessed as North America, and in the premium segment, a crossover is an absolute must for any car maker. PSA’s most recent round of efforts have been pretty poor, using the Mitsubishi Outlander as a starting point, but for their upscale DS brand, PSA is starting from scratch.
The MPV segment, so popular in Europe, was basically invented by the French. The Renault Espace, the grandfather of the modern minivan, was originally supposed to be a Peugeot, until PSA deemed it too expensive and sold it to Renault. Nearly two decades later, Renault disrupted the segment again with their compact Scenic minivan, which spawned imitators from nearly every single brand.
PSA announced their renewed brand strategy for their Peugeot and Citroen lines, and the situation has finally been clarified after frequent back and forth reports that contradicted one another. It turns out that PSA will employ a three-tier approach that is equally confusing, with Citroen as the lowest tier with Peugeot on top. But then there’s also Citroen’s DS line, which is supposed to be upscale itself. Confused? So are we.
Last month, we suggested that PSA’s new compressed air hybrid system was a good way for PSA to drum up some investment into its ailing new car business. Now comes word that PSA wants to talk to other car makers, including alliance partner General Motors, about pooling the R&D cost of the new tech.