Citroen's C5 and C6 are on the verge of being reborn as distinctive-looking, high-tech, comfort-led cars
Jim Holder
27 September 2016

Citroën is set to re-emerge as the most distinctively styled mainstream brand in the world by launching a new large saloon at the start of the next decade — and the new C-xperience concept hints at some of its themes.

Citroën Cxperience concept previews Advanced Comfort tech 

The C-xperience was originally touted as a nonspecific concept looking at future design directions the firm could take. However, Autocar understands that it has in fact been created to test reaction to a reborn Citroën C5 and C6 family being launched and to make a statement that the company has no intention of retreating from the big saloon market.

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Citroën CEO Linda Jackson has previously hinted at the firm’s ambition, recently saying: “We are a mainstream brand but have the ability to overturn the established codes of the mainstream. In fact, our customers now expect it. How far can we take that? Can we go high end? I would say yes. Whatever the segment is, we can do it, but in our own way.”

Suggesting that the firm’s ambitions in the large car market were far from dead, she added: “The separation [of Citroën] from DS presents us with enormous opportunities. It has allowed us to redefine and clarify our aims for the brand with no limits and with nothing off limits.”

The DS 5 was the largest car in Citroën’s portfolio prior to the separation, although a version of the C6 is still sold in China.

At 4.85 metres long, the C-xperience is a similar length to the last C6. Its low height (1.37m), long wheelbase (3.0m) and swooping roofline may have been designed more for dramatic effect, but they are also a sign of the Citroën design team’s determination to continue the left-field design strategy kick-started with the C4 Cactus in 2014. By comparison, a Ford Mondeo is 4.87m long and 1.5m tall and has a wheelbase of 2.8m.

However, Citroën hopes that it can stand out from established class leaders such as the Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat by invoking a more grown-up version of the design flair that has proved so successful on the C4 Cactus and that will be applied to the new C3 when it goes on sale later this year.

It is also no coincidence that the C-xperience name references the CX, which was built between 1974 and 1991, winning the European Car of the Year trophy in 1975 and scooping more than 1.2 million sales during its lifetime. The CX was notable for — and named after — an aerodynamic profile that bucked convention and set new trends when it was originally launched.

The new C5 and C6 would benefit not just from striking exterior design but would also get a similarly uncluttered dashboard, large touchscreen and lounge-like chairs in the front and rear.

“Our core message is ‘Be different, feel good’, and every car we build will embody that philosophy,” said Jackson.

Citroën’s Advanced Comfort programme will be key, too. Although this is expected to be introduced before the new saloons arrive, its basic tenet of using an all-new suspension system to put ride comfort at the heart of the car’s make-up, while also filtering out external noise and vibration, brings Citroën back to its historical core strength of creating visually arresting cars that prioritise comfort. Potentially, it also gives Citroën a technological edge over its rivals, underpinning another core brand value established under Jackson’s leadership of offering cuttingedge technology.

“We have the history and the DNA to build unique and rewarding cars,” said Jackson. “We want Citroën to be an attractive, aspirational and iconic brand, whichever segment it is operating in.”

The success of a new C5 and C6 hinges on the cars being popular in the Chinese and Asian markets, where large saloon cars still sell well. Although it is likely the cars would be sold in Europe as well, sales of large saloons have plummeted in recent years as buyers have switched to SUVs. The C5, for instance, sold 145,000 units in Europe in 2002 but just 14,000 last year. The C6, meanwhile, peaked at 7000 units in Europe in 2007 but sold fewer than 1000 units by the time it was killed off in 2012. 

Keep up with all the latest Paris motor show news, with all the latest reveals and details here

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Citroën C5

The spacious, comfortable Citroen C5 makes an interesting and off-beat Mondeo rival

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Comments
16

27 September 2016
The rendering looks very promising, just the sort of car Jaguar should have built.

“The separation [of Citroën] from DS presents us with enormous opportunities." - Yes, but doesn't Citroen as an aspirational brand make DS irrelevant?

27 September 2016
The real trick that Citroen accomplished with their hydropneumatically suspended cars wasn't just a good ride. It was a very good ride, perhaps the best, combined with quite good handling and very good roadholding. If it was only a good ride that counted we'd all have 1970s Buicks. All the larger cars now seem to have suspension more optimised for a quicker lap at the Nurburgring rather than coping with speed bumps and real roads

27 September 2016
Citroen must stress reliability, an issue that distracts many from buying, me included.

27 September 2016
sabre wrote:

Citroen must stress reliability, an issue that distracts many from buying, me included.

I owned 3 Citroens, albeit from the 1990s, but they were amongst the most reliable cars I've ever owned.

In fact the most unreliable was a German built Ford Orion, and the reliable Honda I had was let down by the German Siemens main relay.

These days Ford, Jaguar etc. all share Peugeot/Citroen diesel engines, Nissans are built using Renault platforms and engines - even Mercedes - the A class uses a Renault engine! The Smart is built on a Renault platform. The 1970s era of French reliability quirks is long gone.

27 September 2016
I predict that these will go down well in China, where European saloon cars are popular.

However the UK - which does not see the likes of the Renault Talisman, and the market in which the C5 was recently axed - will not see these. We will have the premium badged DS5, or whatever urban assault crossover they peddle. 5-Cactus or whatever.

The 508 won't last much longer either - they're already something of a rarity. The facelift model is a surprisingly good looking car.

27 September 2016
sirwiggum wrote:

I predict that these will go down well in China, where European saloon cars are popular.

China already has a new Citroen's C6, an ultra conventional saloon, which is essentially a rebodied Dongfeng Fengshen A9, a D-segment car produced by Citroen's joint venture partner. Introducing a car such as the one proposed here alongside the Chinese C6 would really confuse the brand identity in that market. More generally, I still have no idea what defines or differentiates the DS or Citroen brands. Anyone care to take a stab at it?

27 September 2016
sirwiggum wrote:

I predict that these will go down well in China, where European saloon cars are popular.

China already has a new Citroen's C6, an ultra conventional saloon, which is essentially a rebodied Dongfeng Fengshen A9, a D-segment car produced by Citroen's joint venture partner. Introducing a car such as the one proposed here alongside the Chinese C6 would really confuse the brand identity in that market. More generally, I still have no idea what defines or differentiates the DS or Citroen brands. Anyone care to take a stab at it?

27 September 2016
sirwiggum wrote:

I predict that these will go down well in China, where European saloon cars are popular.

China already has a new Citroen's C6, an ultra conventional saloon, which is essentially a rebodied Dongfeng Fengshen A9, a D-segment car produced by Citroen's joint venture partner. Introducing a car such as the one proposed here alongside the Chinese C6 would really confuse the brand identity in that market. More generally, I still have no idea what defines or differentiates the DS or Citroen brands. Anyone care to take a stab at it?

27 September 2016
Enthusiasts hate it when manufacturers trample all over their heritage by calling so-so models after genuine icons - we all know who are the chief offenders - but this is just extraordinary. What resonance do the names C5 and C6 have that Citroen thinks it's worth reusing them, or is the hope that the previous models (good but unloved) sold so poorly that no-one will realise this is a rerun?

27 September 2016
Bullfinch wrote:

Enthusiasts hate it when manufacturers trample all over their heritage by calling so-so models after genuine icons - we all know who are the chief offenders - but this is just extraordinary. What resonance do the names C5 and C6 have that Citroen thinks it's worth reusing them, or is the hope that the previous models (good but unloved) sold so poorly that no-one will realise this is a rerun?

I don't think they're necessarily suggesting that those names will return. I never understood why they got rid of 'BX' and 'XM' - to be honest those would invoke much more positive memories of previous successful Citroens. It'll be interesting to observe but I hope Citroen follow through rather than just dump their larger models like Renault appear to have done. The Talisman seems to have gone down very well with the motoring press, same with the Espace, with many lamenting their absence from the UK market.


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