Citroen has revealed a plan to restore its reputation for desirability by creating a range of niche models, to be called Distinctive Series and badged Citroen DS.
The plan will kick off with the launch of a near-production Mini Clubman-sized concept, called the Citroen DS Inside, at next month’s Geneva motor show.
The modernisation project, which invokes the name of Citroën’s classic saloon from 1955, is described as “a breakthrough strategy to create rarity within the mass market”.
The new Citroen DS models will be positioned above Citroen’s mainstream cars, which continue as normal. They will offer “the best of the Citroen brand” and are designed to help lift what the company’s marketing men see as a flagging brand image.
The Citroen DS plan is part of a “wholesale reinvention” of the Citroen brand. The revamp includes a redesign for Citroen’s corporate identity, featuring a “slightly more fluid” design for the famous double chevron badge (above). The firm’s motorsport arm, Citroen Sport, will be reconstituted as Citroen Racing.
The changes will be accompanied by a new quality push in all production models, insiders say.
The Citroen DS Inside is a low and richly detailed small two-door estate. It’s understood to be very close in appearance to a production car, badged Citroen DS3, that is tipped for launch next year and is based on the mechanical components of PSA’s supermini twins, the Citroen C3 and Peugeot 207.
It will be followed by two other Citroen DS models, expected to be badged DS4 and DS5. The DS4 and DS5 will be heavily influenced by past Citroen concepts. The DS5 is believed to be a large estate/grand tourer, essentially a modern equivalent to the classic Citroën SM. All three cars will be on sale by 2012.
Citroen marketing bosses deny that the Citroen DS series is simply a method of charging more for cars with familiar mechanical packages, claiming that the new models will also be affordably priced.
They believe that ‘distinctive’ cars could come to be seen as a progression from over-hyped ‘premium’ vehicles, and thus more suitable to the modern era.
“Some people will see this as a risky concept,” said a Citroen marketing source, “but we believe a DS model could achieve 25 to 40 per cent of the sales of its corresponding mainstream model, without harming it, because it will target different people. The DS models stand for the best of the Citroen brand.”