Late last year I went on a rare trip to the Peugeot-Citroen styling studio, on the south side of Paris.
It was very interesting if rather frustrating day. We went over for a closer look at the dramatic Citroen Revolte concept. We also had a chance to talk directly to Carlo Bonzangio – Citroen’s head of concepts and advanced interior design.
But what we really wanted to know was whether the Revolte was new 2CV or not? Bonzangio’s reply was as baroque as the car.
"Of course it has 2CV influence," he said. "I think we can now shamelessly speak about future and our history in one breath. Citroen is ready for the next step. But this is not a retro design. It contains quotations from the past. The 2CV was spartan and essential – but the Revolte is rich."
I was left confused as to whether the highly appealing Revolte was going to happen, and how it could fit in with the new DS3. If Bonzangio know the answer, he wasn’t going to reveal it.
Interestingly, Citroen’s just-launched advertising campaign for the DS3 is based entirely around the fact that the DS3 is not a retro design.
Individually, Citroen has some very nice vehicles. The DS3, C3 Picasso, C5 and C6 all individually look good, but there’s no particularly clear thread that holds the company’s product line together.
Ultimately, I wanted to know what Citroen is about? Bonzangio wanted Citroen to be seen as ‘the most Parisian’ of brands and be able to mentioned in the same breath as the word ‘premium’.
The company’s current ‘creative technology’ tag line doesn’t help clear things up much, either. Nor does the recent British memories of Citroen as budget brand.
I think Citroen needs to follow in the very recent steps of sister company Peugeot, and really get a grip on a new product philosophy that successfully ties these frustratingly loose ends together.