GENEVA – Automobile Citroen extends its range of products at both ends of the spectrum at the Geneva auto show, with the addition of the new Citroen C1, slotted in the small city car segment, and the C6, which will chase 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedans.
The C1 is the small car shares its platform with the Peugeot 107 and (See related story: Peugeot Unveils Final 407 Coupe Prototype, Czech Car at Geneva)Motor Corp.’s Aygo. The three small cars debut at the show here, with each slated to consume as much as one-third of the 300,000-unit annual capacity at the Peugeot Citroen Automobile Czech s.r.o. (TPCA) plant in Kolin, Czech Republic.
The three vehicles share 92% of components, with major differences showing up in the front fascia, rear end and certain interior cues, including seats. Each brand also will offer two unique paint schemes, in addition to six shared exterior colors. (See related story: Toyota to Show Aygo, New Avensis Diesels in Geneva)
“The Citroen is more laid back,” says Cederic du Reau, who representedin the development of the small cars with . “It’s got big eyes and feels like a child. The Peugeot is more straightforward, and the Toyota is more trendy.”
Although the C1 is shared with two other brands, each nameplate vies for attention in Europe’s biggest segment. Some 35% of the market is small cars, and Citroen is confident it can sell its 100,000-unit allotment annually starting in June, when the C1 goes on sale.
The C6, aimed at a much more challenging segment, aims for 30,000 deliveries annually and marks a new endeavor for the French brand, executives say. It sits above the C5 in Citroen’s car range and is fitted with either a 3L gasoline engine or 2.7L diesel.
“The C6 is Citroen’s first genuine luxury car,” says Pierre Duguet, C6 deputy project leader-marketing and product.
He admits the XM, which marked Citroen’s last approach to the mid-to-large luxury sedan segment, had its bizarre elements.
The C6 also follows behind other attempts by French brands to crack the segment.SA tried with the Vel Satis, but has had little success outside France. The 607, built by partner Automobiles Peugeot and designd to mimic the styling and features of the German segment leaders, has had more success across Europe.
A series of clinics in Germany showed that “Citroen is acceptable to luxury buyers,” Duguet insists. “We had a good score in Germany. We won’t be chosen by business buyers, but we should find customers among the independent professionals.”
The C6 shoots styling audacity that will set it apart while remaining true to the “code” of luxury cars, Duguet says.
It is a low-slung sedan with the exterior dimensions of an Audi A6, but a longer wheelbase, featuring Citroen’s typical short overhang in the rear and long overhang in front. The concave-convex rear window stretches over the trunk, allowing it to open wide.
Front headlights that extend over the front fenders and semi-circular rear taillights are both very visible from the side of the car. At the same time, the roof line is fluid and graceful.
Technically, the C6 shares many features with the C5, including a fixed-center steering wheel; lane-departure warning system; bi-function directional xenon headlights; electric parking brake and parking sensors.
Unique to the C6 is a heads-up display like that found in someCorp. products, sourced from Nippon Seiki Co. Ltd., which also supplies GM. The display is adjustable for position, intensity and to some extent content, although speed is always visible.
Another unique feature is the electronic hydraulic suspension. A sensor and electro-mechanical shock absorber with 16 settings at each wheel allow the car to combine precise steering and handling with comfort, Duguet says.