The Metropolis is not the first limo Citroen has created for China, the French maker having previously developed a stretch-wheelbase, saloon version of the old 1991 ZX hatchback for the country called the Fukang (it means prosperity and health...) 988 VIP.
But the gargantuan Metropolis concept is something altogether different, its 5.3 metre length easily making it the most plutocratic model the company has ever made, eclipsing assorted low volume presidential SM, DS and CX mutations mainly created for its country’s leaders over the decades. Only the GT by Citroen sits above it on the company’s fantasy price list, and that’s a supercar of course.
Citroen was one of the first European makers to break into China in modern times, its 20 year presence there making it the company’s biggest market outside Europe and a good country in which to unveil this thoroughly un-Marxist machine for the People’s Republic.
It has been constructed for the 2010 Shanghai World fair and as a symbol of confidence it’s a bold one, especially given the company’s recent history with big cars, the ’89 XM and the 2005 C6 proving about as popular as rattlesnake at a barbeque. But, China is different, and so is Citroen’s standing there.
And the Metropolis certainly isn’t without appeal, what with its subtly muscular styling, 272bhp hybrid V6 powertrain and Hydractive suspension, which ought to provide a ride softer than a zephyr-borne feather.
It’s a handsome beast, vastly more so than a Maybach, and should have the presence of Citroen’s neon-lit name when it adorned the Eiffel Tower in the ‘30s.
The company’s Shanghai studio has managed to resist giving it a sales-limiting hatchback, installed Roll-Royce style coach rear doors, the concave rear window that was a trademark of the 1975 CX and an impressively assertive iteration of Citroen’s latest grille design.
The chances of production version seeing a showroom reputedly are pretty slim, whether here or in China, but you can be sure that hybrid drivetrains will be coming our way, as repeatedly signaled.
One final, obscure detail: Google ‘Citroen Metropolis’ and you’ll uncover details of a 20th century French artist called Paul Citroen, whose most famous work is painting called... Metropolis. A coincidence? So they say (I've asked...).