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CIoJ

TRANSPORT

INFRASTRUCTURE

MOTOR

INDUSTRY

VEHICLE

APPRAISAL

TECHNICAL

ANALYSIS

History and Ownership

A company with a very long heritage, first widely known for their ‘Light Sixteen’ 4-door saloon which pioneered front-wheel-drive pre-WW2.   This was followed after the war with another ground-breaker in 1950, In the shape of the legendary DS saloon with styling which is not only relevant to today, but which is still reveered.  This car again had front wheel drive and a uniquely heavy and over-engineered hydro-pneumatic suspension, variants included a cost-reduced version (the ID) and a soft-top convertible of which the survivors are now virtually worth their weight in gold!

We should not forget that Citroen were adept at making cars and vans from bits of corrugated iron, the most famous of which would have been the 2CV (2 vaguely competing cylinders, no brakes, no power for hills) which even as you read this, are probably still chasing chickens around French farmyards.  

It should not be forgotten that where other car makers had a standardised layout for almost everything inside the cockpit, Citroen ploughed their own furrow, very often disappearing over the nearest hill, endearing the marque to its devotees and p..ing the h..l out of journalists who were often seen at the end of huge rubber-marks in the nearest hedges.

Unfortunately the company’s extravagances of the 1950-60’s - including a ‘foreign’ factory in Slough Berkshire (!!!!) To make the DS and some vans brought the company to its knees and the French government in a bid to keep the marque going, forcibly reversed it into the Peugeot family empire.  While design was kept partially separate from the Peugeot family identities, the chassis, running gear and often engines were appropriated from the PSA family.  Thus, during the 90’s and early Noughties Citroen survived using cheapened versions of Peugeots.  Thus was the quirky brand equity of Citroen decimated, saved only by the budget-priced - but surprisingly sturdy - Xantia/Xsara 5-door and the Picasso small MPV.  Both sold in large numbers especially to private buyers and this was underpinned by astute ‘economy’ pricing and low running costs.

Choosing mainly from the Peugeot group parts bins, a wide range of well-designed and durable models has been developed and volumes are increasing year-on-year.  The DS range as an up-market sporty version of Citroen ‘master’ models, was removed from the Citroen portfolio in 2015 to become a separate and distinctive brand within the Peugeot group.

Brand Equity

Fast-forward to today and the brand has evolved still as astutely priced, but incorporating a visibly ‘different’ styling and with some quirky characteristics which generally make their cars likeable - rather than just a commodity.  Interestingly, the chevron brand logo has survived many years and is thus instantly recognisable even by motor-ignoramuses, it particularly suits the high and aggressive bonnet style evident in the current SUV/MPV-biased model lineup.

Citroen is widely recognised as having comfort to the fore, both in terms of interior and road behaviour and clearly the designers have worked subtlely to produce cars which generally still have the Citroen ‘stamp’ clearly discernible both externally and internally.

Retail Network and Customer Experience

At best it needs to be said that there is a wide range of dealer types.  There are no ‘Succursales’ in the UK, and the mix of dealers ranges from large group outlets with suspect loyalties, through to small retail dealerships trading in the Citroen marque for many years and commanding high ‘traditional’ customer loyalty.

Citroen along with other Peugeot group marques has been through reliability problems over the years and while it must be emphasised at many were the result of imported alliances with other manufacturers, build quality, corrosion and electrics have been past problems which have by now been overcome.

Notable Past Models

2CV - almost impossible as a reliable daily transport, 70 years on many of these ungainly contraptions endure and are loved.  It is too easy to forget that these cars have provided extremely cheap daily transport to millions who would otherwise need to use public transport, from students to young mothers and farm workers.  

DS/ID Series - still highly sought-after and car prices continue to rise, the cars are well supported by owners clubs.  Much-requested by photographers - especially fashion -  and highly fashionable to be seen in and to drive.  Despite a lot of high tech (for that period) surprisingly agricultural and slow to drive, mostly due to over-engineered weight.  Convertible prices stratospheric.

SM - the black sheep developed from the DS and its successor the XM, a sleek 2-door coupe using a very argumentative Maserati V6 engine and transmission, the suspension is inherited from the DS but cost-and-weight reduced, the whole deal resulting in a measurable reduction in reliability in all areas.  Many were re-engined if wishing to drive any distance, but such action will kill any monetary value in the car - strictly a car for mechanic-collectors only!

C6 - a very sleek modern car aiming to import body styling cues from the DS, this has been partially successful, spoiled mainly by a totally nondescript grille area and a very understated interior - Citroen, what were you thinking of?  A pleasure to drive particularly with the rorty V6 petrol or with the very rare and lusty 3-litre diesel.  Space, pace and suspension notably excellent, handling lumbers.

DS 3 to 2018 - a small and likeable car with good comfort levels, becomes desirable as a drivers car with the more powerful petrol engines - however beware of VANOS valve gear problems imported from another car manufacturer.

Current Model Ranges

C-Zero - fully electric car built by Mitsubishi, fun in cities but only 30 miles safe range

C1 - mini with style, petrol engines only, 1.0 litre ‘four’ from Toyota to be avoided, PSA ‘three’ a delight

C3 - funky-looking super-mini various trims and colours tocreate individual-looking car, fun to drive

C3 Aircross - chunky, some might say aggressively ugly but a great car for city/shopping and casual cross-country  

C4 Cactus - current car great improvement on earlier model, especially for long-distance motoring with economy

C4 Spacetourer - short and long wheelbase, latter great for 6/7 people and loads, looks classy

C5 Aircross - range flagship newly introduced and a great looker, best with 2L diesel, 1.5 diesel is slow overtaking.  Also petrols