Sometimes, as cars mature, they become a whole lot better than they were when they were pre-production test models on the starry-eyed press launch. And the Pluriel has certainly improved from the very early edition, in that it doesn’t fill with water every time it rains, it’s stopped rattling and long ago started to feel like a car that was finished. That was years back.
A chance to drive the latest limited edition Pluriel was a chance to see whether this flawed but not unappealing convertible had developed any more. And the wrapping it comes with is fun. If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the Citroen 2CV Charleston, of which this a reprise.
The central theme to both is a black, maroon and grey colour scheme that, in the case of the tin snail, looked like it had been devised by a workshop more used to painting horse-drawn carriages by appointment to the queen, and it suited the twin cylinder struggler to a tee what with its separate wings and chromed headlamp bowls.
The same scheme on the near-monoform Pluriel looks more contrived, but it’s not a bad effort given the limitations faced by Citroen’s colouring-in department. The interior is a disappointment though – instead of the wonderful quilted cloth of the 2CV there’s conventional leather, a rather bizarre ruby-red gearlever knob that looks as if it escaped from a hot rod and more pleasingly, chrome-plated interior doorhandles. Most of the rest of the Pluriel Charleston’s interior is stock, which means doors trims with the texture of a plucked chicken , more cheap mouldings than you’ll find in a novelty shop and a barely legal level of instrumentation.
And to drive? It’s much the same as before. Bumps still trigger seismic floor quiver. The ride is slightly too firm for a car with a character this benign. The 1.4i petrol struggles to push the tacho needle along its strip-shaped scale, and the brakes are dully unprogressive.
You can make this Citroen go quite briskly, and it has the grip to round corners with a bit of pace, but a Berlingo Multispace will pull a tidier line through twists. So most of your Pluriel pleasure will stem from its troubled roofing arrangements, which, you may recall, allow the fabric roof to fold back like a sunroof – it can be rolled far enough rearwards that it blocks the rear window, in fact - or you can remove the longitudinal roof bars altogether for the full alfresco experience. But because you have to leave these at home, you need to be sure that it won’t rain. In Britain.
So all is much as before with this troubled but not unappealing car. The one thing that has improved is the steering, the feel generated by its electric assistant a whole lot more consistent than before.
But neither this improvement nor a nostalgic, limited-edition paint job are enough to save the Pluriel from being a rather dull, cheaply fashioned car with an interesting roof. Especially at £14,495.