Citroen C6 Review

citroen c6 review

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.

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.

I 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.

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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  • JTM50 JTM50 on May 25, 2011

    For me it's simply the most beautiful car on the market and a true Citroen. I love it unreservedly and I've had a few before, not all reliable.

  • Planet Citroen Planet Citroen on Dec 30, 2014

    How extraordinary that there's so much discussion about windows not closing above 150 km/h. I have a 2009 model and have travelled over 120,000 kms without a single issue with the windows, or anything else for that matter. It reminds me of discussions about Citroen's 'controversial' fixed hub steering wheel in the first generation C4. One motoring writer wrote that you couldn't blow the horn while turning a corner (which was wrong) but who has ever blown their horn while turning a corner? Absurd. Citroen nailed it with the C6. Stunningly beautiful lines that faithfully progress the brand's identity. A first rate, powerful diesel engine that is as quiet and refined as a petrol engine, a comfortable, spacious, high quality interior (oh, and the wood is real), double glazed windows that assure noise from the outside world is silenced (and heat reduced), powerful air-conditioning that copes with Australian temperatures without any difficulty, and, of course, the most supremely comfortable ride. It really is time that people stopped indulging themselves in half-baked discussions about French cars and unreliability. These days, Peugeot, Renault and Citroen produce reliable, good quality cars that offer a little more style and creativity than many other brands. If you've ever owned a BMW or a Mercedes, you'll know that they're not perfect, or bullet-proof, nor are Audis, Jaguars and many other prestige brands. Modern cars are prone to electrical problems and the Germans suffer perhaps more than their fair share.

  • DenverMike Pininfarina I know it's not related to this, I just like saying it.
  • Matt Posky I don't understand the appeal of fake meat and this seems to operate under a similar premise: You don't want the V8 because someone says it's bad for you. But you can have something designed to mimic the experience because that's what your body actually wants. The styling is cool I guess. But I don't understand why EVs don't just lean into what they are. Companies can make them produce any wooshing or humming noises they want. Buiding an entire system to help you pretend it still has a combustion engine seems a little lame.
  • DenverMike I'm sure it would have a volume control. It's nice to sneak into my neighborhood at 2am quietly. Or creep out, 4am. I don't get much sleep OK, but I always keep my V8 exhaust stock, as much as I love the sound of others loud. My stereo would make it pointless anyway.
  • FreedMike I’d love to see more tracks, or off-road parks if that’s your jam. But for those of us who’d love to take part in this kind of thing, practicality is the limiting factor. Racing has always been expensive, and most people don’t want to do it with their daily drivers - I’d love to see what my GLI would do on a track, but not at the cost of voiding my warranty, or potentially wrapping up the car (which I’m pretty sure would put me on State Farm’s Keith Moon-trashing-the-Holiday Inn list). As a practical matter, you have to have a vehicle that is intended to be used for racing, and the ability to fix it; most folks don’t have that kind of money or skill set.
  • Dukeisduke Oh, so it *is* a hatchback. Last night, I watched the replay of the reveal with Tim Kuniskis presenting the car, on Instagram. A "fly-through" of the car on the pre-rollout video made it look like they were going through an open hatch, so it had me wondering. The car attracted a lot of negative comments on IG, on feeds of guys who were there live.This is probably the least "electric car" electric car.
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