Unsung Heroes : Citroën C6

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

Citroen C6

You’ll have to forgive me for this indulgence, especially as it’s concerning a – gasp – rival car built overseas, but in the case of the C6, I’m hoping you’ll understand and bear with me. During my last visit to France, news filtered through that Citroën is ceasing production of its C6, and that it’s already been lifted from the UK retail price list already. It’s a well-known and oft-repeated fact that the company singularly fails to sell its large cars in any numbers in the UK – and that in 2011, Citroën actually only managed to sell four C6s in the UK.

If that’s the case – and I’m afraid to check for fear of being proved right – then that’s an absolute travesty. And a shame. And a real disappointment. And a severe reflection of UK executive car buyers’ fear of individuality. Perhaps.

My relationship with the C6 has been a long one, often from the sidelines as a closet Citroëniste. Having owned and run XMs during the 1990s, I was always interested to see how they’d replace such an individual car. In 1999, we were teased by the arrival of the C6-Lignage concept, which was to all intents and purposes a prototype of the production car. It was taken to several motor shows, and we all knew that its real purpose in life was to act as a styling clinic model for the production variety – and that the real thing would be along presently.

Except that it wasn’t. Disappointingly, the XM went out of production the following year, and in one of those moments of crisis that Citroën went through on a semi-regular basis, the C6’s development was put on hold, while the C4 was brought forward. That left the XM unreplaced, a vacuum at the top of the range, and Citroën claiming half-heartedly that the worthy but ugly C5 V6 was the range’s new flagship.

In the end, the C6 found its way onto the market in 2005, and after the wait, it was good to see France building itself a proper national flagship again. The styling was concept car fresh (despite being a few years late), and echoed the amazing CX. In a sector full of German briefcases, the C6 was a genuine highpoint. The following spring, I managed to bag a week’s drive before it officially went on sale here, and ended up taking it to my spiritual home in Blackpool. Over the week, I fell in love with the car’s long legs, comfortable ride and accommodating (and tastefully styled) interior, and ultra-refined 2.7-litre V6 turbodiesel.

Citroen C6 interior

But there were disappointments. It rode well, but not as well as the cossetting old CX or DS, and the fuel consumption delivered by this 1920kg behemoth was scandalously poor. Then, of course, it was being sold in the UK by Citroën dealers – and as we all know, these hard-working organisations might know a thing or two about shifting C1s and C3s, they’re not so well versed in dealing with the ABC1s who spend £40,000 on their wheels. And, ah, yes – that was the other thing – load up a C6 and it would cost you 40 big ones in the UK, and although we the cogniscenti  look beyond a car’s badge and see the inner soul, it seemed that very few others were prepared to.

The road testers back then were also quite keen to use the ‘D’ word. Depreciation – or the threat of  it – was enough to scare off floating voters deliberating on whether they should add a C6 to their portfolio. And we know what happened then.

Thing is, the C6’s existence made the world a nicer place. It’s one of those cars when you see it out in the wild (well, me anyway) you notice it. There’s a dash of style and presence that belongs to the C6, which brightens up any street scene. And, yes, I know that there are plenty of Gaulois/Gitanes/Roll-neck cliches you can apply to the next statement – but I find myself thinking more and more about owning one.

I know from my friend Richard Kilpatrick’s bitter experiences with his dealers that owning one would in reality be akin to dating a psychopathic supermodel, but I do actually think that it might just be worth it. After all, the C6 does a few things in life brilliantly, rather than a broad spectrum of qualities pretty well – and I like that. Cars with USPs fascinate me, and I think that’s because they reflect the ambitions of their creators rather than the accountants running the company.

Which is ironic, given that it’s most likely accountants that killed the C6.

France needs the C6, and needs an equally outrageous replacement. To have something like that is a matter of national pride. And never was that more evident than when the new Socialist president, François Hollande, arrived on the world stage hanging out of a Citroën DS5 Hybrid. Imagine the Queen rolling up the Pall Mall this weekend in a Mondeo Titanium Estate? Exactly. I suspect the C6 will be the last of a glorious line of Hydropneumatically suspended goddess-style big Citroëns, and after loving these cars for as long as I’ve lived, that makes me very, very sad.

Yes, the DS9 is coming – I am sure – but something in me suspects it might be cut from a very different cloth. We’ll see, but I do hope I am wrong.

Adieu, mon brave!

 

Citroen C6

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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85 Comments

  1. Good grief, only four sold last year? That’s worse than MG – who’d have thunk it??

    I remember driving along the autoroute the year the C6 was launched and, upon spotting one, my then ‘chérie’ exclaimed “mon Dieu, qu’est-ce que c’est?!” Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but the C6 really was spectacularly ugly.

    None of the 3 French brands have been able to crack the executive market in recent years – and the longer it goes on, the longer it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I do wish Renault had stuck at the AvanTime, though.

    • Aventine?? Really.

      The C6 is a weirdly beautiful car, it has given me a real sense of pride as an owner. People have mocked mainly because it’s a big french executive car.

      My only criticism is the fuel consumption which isn’t great. That said it is very powerful and super smooth with its 6 speed automatic gearbox.

  2. Au Revoir C6. In 20 years time the motoring hacks will be willowing in their pints like they do now for the CX. It may not have held the residues but boy it is a far better looking car than those bland ugly german barges from BMW and Mercedes.

  3. 1920kg?! whats with the en-lardening?

    1985 Renault 25 2.2i – 1075kg
    1995 Renault Safrane 2.2i 1350kg

    They dont get any bigger but they seem to get heavier for no good reason. When the MOT on my car was done a year ago the weight as tested was 1610kg with full everything as far as fluids went.

    Its no wonder we are getting dismal fuel consumption figures.

    One interesting thing I noticed – comparing the Safrane and the Prius 1.8 – the Prius was 1800kg before you even put any fuel in it. So tell me again how something that weighs probably over 2000kg all up is in any way green or helping the environment?

    Its a shame that these cars didnt catch on. My mother had two C5 estates (which are both still around in Colchester as taxi cabs) that were great to drive and made the TARDIS look positively pokey.

    On the positive side – its more than possible to get hold of a reasonable Avantime or Vel-Settee for very little now – around £3500 would buy you a good one!

  4. “They dont get any bigger but they seem to get heavier for no good reason.”

    With the C6 there are lots of good reasons, although many are not immediately apparent. Double glazed windows for example, they reduce noise and thermal insulation, so that’s double the amount of glass over single glazing. There are various other features. Although i agree with you, many modern cars are much heavier than their predecessors.

    They’re more exclusive than a Rolls-Royce Phantom, i parked up 6 Phantoms on Thursday, but only 3 C6’s.

    The owners i’ve spoken to haven’t mentioned any problems with them and describe them as a reliable beast, so they appear to be a good car. The only ‘problem’ they mention is when they take them to a dealer for a service, they haven’t got a clue what to do with them. I’m sure with a German badge it would have sold perfectly well, even the German brands have a few bug ridden cars.

  5. “Imagine the Queen rolling up the Pall Mall this weekend in a Mondeo Titanium Estate?”

    But at least Hollande’s DS5 wore a French badge.

  6. As well as the DS9 – and along similar gorgeous lines – there’s the Metropolis. Lots of pics on Citroën’s French site.

  7. Dennis: They have several problems, not least of which the 407 derived front suspension which devours balljoints. The double-glazed windows are paired with aluminium-skinned doors and frameless apertures; the C6’s weight is largely due to a frankly excessive attention to crashworthiness.

    German luxury cars have a stronger identity and greater commitment to brand values.

    I am working – sporadically – on an article about my C6 experience. I keep having to edit the swear words out and mop tears from my keyboard; you have no idea how much I loved big Citroëns when I had the CX and XM.

    @20: No, they’ll be laughing about it and nodding knowingly in the same way we do about the Talbot Tagora now. It’s a model of all that went wrong in PSA’s attitude and the seeming considerations of 1999 design viewed from 2005.

  8. “Cars with USPs fascinate me, and I think that’s because they reflect the ambitions of their creators rather than the accountants running the company.”

    This. This is why the CX and XM, even the Xantia, were great. Even with the constraints of Peugeot’s obsession with keeping the technical ‘leader’ in their combined firm a second-place player, the designers behind the CX and XM in particular had true vision.

    The C6 isn’t designed or engineered. It’s styled. It’s specified. It’s not engineered without compromise, it’s a cynical, very ‘corporate’ attempt at fitting a spec derived from someone else’s old vision. No-one sat down to design the DS, CX or XM going “right lads, let’s make a car which is like the predecessor” – even when the XM has some subtle nods to the SM and CX, the car’s shape is draped over the engineering package. With the C6, it’s like they wanted to capture the mood of the DS, then force an existing engineering package to fit.

    It’s like going “Let’s resurrect the Blues Brothers”, then finding the only raw platform you have is Jedward.

    The new C5 is a vastly superior car. For a tiny sacrifice in rear legroom, you get a better handling, more responsive, more resolved and even in terms of interior styling, a more ‘contemporary’ display of individuality (centre console on facelifted 2010 models with RT5, fixed-hub wheel).

    I want Citroën to build another class-leading, beautiful car. Something that could go head to head with the XJ, rivalling the ride and performance, trading the leather and suede for organic plastics and biofabrics – but in terms of technology Jaguar’s stolen that lead. The XJ’s instrumentation works far better than the pleasant, but gimmicky, HUD on the C6.

    As a pleasant thing to drive, my 2002 Voyager rivals the C6’s dimensions, yet (suspension noise from being seriously neglected for a decade aside) I find it easier to place, easier to park, generally more pleasant. And perhaps this reflects the shift in what the Haut de Gamme from Citroën SHOULD represent; the true DS, CX, XM replacement should have been something like a C8 with HP suspension and a more rakish design. In fact, more like the Avantime.

  9. I hope they don’t really name its replacement the DS9, could lead to a lot of terrible jokes.
    [img]http://www.thingsnerdslike.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/deep-space-9.jpg[/img]

  10. “Dennis: They have several problems, not least of which the 407 derived front suspension which devours balljoints.”

    I’m not saying they were faultless, but certainly the 5 or 6 owners i’ve spoken to over the past few months have said their own examples were problem free.

    All manufacturers have their ‘lemons’, even the ‘reliable’ German brands have the odd car or two out of a thousand good ones that are nothing but trouble. Perhaps yours was a bad example, but certainly the others i’ve spoken to have been happy with theirs.

  11. “I hope they don’t really name its replacement the DS9, could lead to a lot of terrible jokes.”

    I doubt it, i mean Chrysler had the ‘Voyager’, I think Peugeot name some of their vans “Enterprise” they don’t seem to suffer from Star Trek jokes.

  12. I have always admired this stunning car,so different from the audi and BMW’s its up there with the traction avant,SM,DS and XM brave and bold in thier design.

  13. For once, Keith, I completely disagree. The C6, in my eyes, is a re-bodied, and very ungainly looking Peugeot, as are all Citroens these days. The rot set in with the ZX, got worse when Art Blakesee was appointed head of design (not a flickin’ clue, none, zero. Wouldn’t know a Citroen if one ran over him), then the bargain basement specials came in. All Citroen is today, is an over-styled alternative to the increasingly ugly Pug mainstream. The last great Citroen (IMHO) was the Xantia. Everything else is just typical half-baked French motoring fodder. A real shame.

  14. @17,all anyone ever did was moan about citroens quirky suspension and styling so we got the steel sprung zx,the xantia was merely o.k the activa strange round corners,i prefer the BX.Peugeot cars now have lost thier way massively and did years ago when they stopped making thier own shock absorbers remember how well 405’s handled?

  15. Dennis: Mine wasn’t a bad example. The dealers were bad – but mine was average, as years on the various forums and dealing with the CCC explained (in many regards mine was good – no brake hose issues, I kept on top of my RT4 system’s quirks). However, you may have met owners with 2.2 models, and they may have had different experiences.

    Oh, and my Voyager is called Ilia. Some Trekkers might get that one 😉

    Francis: The steel sprung C5 is superior to the HP one, IMO. Since they decoupled the brakes from the suspension (and decoupled the corners with bloody computers to do it all), the magic from the HP system is lost.

    No denying that pushing on, the C6 could impress. But it was uninvolving in a way the XM wasn’t; I could upset a boy racer in a hot hatch when driving the XM, in total serenity, whereas to show a clean pair of heels to a BMW 5 or Lexus in the C6 took real work and guesswork thanks to the occasionally unpredictable and uncommunicative chassis.

    Through Mosspaul on the A7, absolute concentration on getting the best time, I was only 6mph slower in the C6 than in the RX8 – but it was brutal, hard work. The car has no finesse, and finesse is what made the CX and XM so exquisite.

  16. @18 Well, look, I suppose at least we still have Citroen, unlike SAAB, and the joke that is Lancia, but, the cars these days are woeful porridge compared with the DS, GS, CX, SM & XM heyday. I look at a Picasso and picture a driver who has simply given up on life…………

  17. I always had a soft spot for the C6 – it always looked particularly sinister in black – and admired Citroen for trying to take on the heavyweight Germans at their own game.

    Sadly it has always been a rarity on our roads (certainly in the South West, anyway) and in twenty years time we will be mourning the lack of good surviving examples to own as something affordable to buy (but certainly not cheap to run!) and quirky, rather like with the XM.

    I’m not surprised by the news, although I am definitely saddened by it. RIP to one of the few new French cars I actually liked.

  18. the C6 is a beautiful looking car, there is one here in new plymouth, its absoultely stunning 🙂 im sure it would drive nice too, I used to have a 1974 DS20 super. alex

  19. Sadly, most British have no style or sense of individuality. To contrast a British person with a typical Italian or French person will show huge contrasts in style and personality. This is reflected in their choice of car and why alternatives like the C6 are generally doomed to fail.

  20. IMHO, as a passionate BMC/ Rover enthusiast, I can put my hand on my heart and honestly say…. I think the C6, in Black, is one of the coolest ‘normal’ cars around. I reckon they look wicked. And here in OZ, if I ever found a cheap enough example I’d be happy to give one a home.
    I always felt if the rear wheel was faired in, a la CX, it would have been knuckle-bitingly awesome looking….. But that’s just me:)

  21. I think its a little out of place perhaps to say the British have no style. the Jaguars and the Rovers have stlye its just that they are perhaps more conservative they all follow excellent form. the problem with radical(french / italian) styling is that it only appears to a few or over styling(toyota) or lack of (saic-mg / toyota) which appears to people who really have no style but want a reliable car (maybe) + functional. But the R75 is a great looking car, the P5, the SD1 and the 800 Fastback Vitesse were excellent looking cars. the Range Rover classic is a great looking car. I know people who wouldnt have bought a DS20 because they are ugly (in their oppinion) yet it does have style and is unreliable. And then theres the Old mini who Issi himself said the car wasnt styled at all, it was completely a product of its functionality or words to that effect, and that in self is just another form of art (function and – or form and if you are lucky – both). some people wouldnt say abstract art is art but the reality is that it is art when you know what it is about. all cars, every single car ever made is a series of objectives and compromises. I like british cars because they are conservatively styled, generally well engineered (not always) and strong. japanese cars are percieved to be relaible yet they are made from rubbish mostly. I think the only difference is that people forgive their Japanese cars for some reason (anyone want a subaru with a blown head gasket?). alex

  22. “However, you may have met owners with 2.2 models, and they may have had different experiences.”

    At least 2 of them had the 2.7, the others i’m not sure.

    “I always felt if the rear wheel was faired in, a la CX, it would have been knuckle-bitingly awesome looking….. ”

    Agreed.

    “The last great Citroen (IMHO) was the Xantia.”

    I have to admit they were a pretty well made car, but not really what i’d call a great ‘Citroen’, they were dull to drive, though rode well and very dull to look at both inside and out. Citroen’s were always quirky, that’s what made them great, the Xantia was a good car, but could easily have been any other make with a different badge and coil springs.

    “a re-bodied, and very ungainly looking Peugeot, as are all Citroens these days.”

    Actually most of the time, the Peugeot’s are Rebodied Citroen’s, often the Citroen models are launched before their corresponding generation of Pug. For example, the Xantia was launched in about 1993, the 406 was launched in about 1996 so the 406 was a rebodied Xantia with coil springs. The pug 306 is based on the ZX which was launched a couple of years before it. They are of course the same company though, and have been for decades, so it’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario, can you really say one brand is designing them then the other is rebodying them? I expect they’re all designed by the same engineers.

    “japanese cars are percieved to be relaible”
    I think they generally are, but when they do eventually break (which all cars do eventually), they cost an arm and a leg to repair because of the parts cost. Most of the perception of reliability comes from the early days of them exporting, compared to a Leyland product they were very reliable (though rotted just as badly if not worse). I think there are few truly unreliable cars these days though.

    • Best car I’ve ever owned, sensational drive even in the modest 2.2 173bhp form, glides along in serene comfort, would even call it nimble with very light steering (possibly not to all tastes) yet weighty with low centre of gravity gives excellent road-holding

  23. @27 japenese cars were once reliable until they opted for cheaper outsourced parts-ask toyota! even the failure rate on malaysian built civic gearboxes is very surprising,anyway i have not been a real fan of french cars,unless it was a quirky citroen the,a A610 turbo or some lovely gordini models,The reason i love the C6 is because it is so different,Richard Kilpatricks concise description of living with it also goes some way to describe the style over substance,i have never driven one and have always heard they where a bit slack at the tiller,years ago this what drivers got,serene driving not rushed,but BMW came along and shown us how it should be- a car that feels substantial,planted and confidence inspiring unlike some french cars. Any laguna feels like your favourite settee but dont feel great to drive,interestingly,im currently working on a 2.2D vel satis (EML issues)and i like its looks and it goes round corners too!

  24. #20 Kilpatrick Unit – I get your Ilia reference 🙂

    I had completely forgotten there was a C6, however i have never been a fan of French Cars. IMO they have produced some many ugly creations. The Ami for example in my eyes is hideous, yet was the best selling french for years if i understand it.
    The Xantia Picasso – ungly and from the side it;s hard to tell which direction it’s pointing and the last model megane, designed to look like they forgot to add boot space.
    To me there seems to be a school of thought that to be different they should be “unconventional”, but end up looking ugly.
    However I do like the Art Deco style grill on that C6 which is also on the C8?

  25. Forum regulars should know me well enough by now, to know that I’m not a big fan of French cars.
    But there’s something about big French cars, that makes them very hard for me not to love.
    It’s the bravery.
    Big French saloons have never, ever sold that well here, or even in France. In France you’re much more likely to see an Audi or a Mercedes, than their French equivalent.
    But it doesn’t stop them from making them.
    It’s the bravery and perseverance that makes them loveable. Look at the Wankel engine. It would have been much easier to give up on the idea (which Mazda sadly did). But they chose to work at it. Tried to make it work.
    Cars like that are all about faith, not judgement.

    • I would even go so far to say I was a fan of the Peugeot 604, along with the motoring correspondent of The Sunday Sun( Newcastle), who said the 604 was criminally ignored. This was a distinctive big car with the legendary PRV V6 that was an excellent mileater, also featured an early diesel option, was huge inside and rode well. Quite an interesting alternative to a Granada and liked by the loyal few over here.

  26. I note a few comments saying ‘I want one’ ….but no one actually bought any!!! The depreciation was estimated at being ‘horrendous’ and it lived up to that expectation perfectly. No one in their right mind is going to spend 40K – and lose the vast majority in the next 36 months. Its a sad fact that unless it has a ‘prestige’ badge on it (to impress your friends)it just wont sell in that sector of the market these days. And thats a real pity, but ‘you’ are the public and thats what its like nowadays…. RIP C6.

  27. “Any laguna feels like your favourite settee but dont feel great to drive”

    Although it does depend what you want the car for, if you want to cross europe and arrive fresh at the other end, then this is the thing to use, but if you want spirited drive through a mountain pass then it’s probably going to be the BMW. As one of the owners i spoke to said “a friend of mine said he likes to feel the road beneath him, i don’t”.

    Anyone remember the Clarkson topgear test, a C6 vs. an M5 on a rough race course track with a camera on top.

    Big Citroen’s are a lot like big american cars, they don’t really make sense unless you use them for what they were designed for. Crossing France or driving Route 66 respectively.

  28. I still think of the C6 as a new car, still waiting to see one up close in the metal.

    Why don’t Citroen design the replacement as exciting and innovative as the DS was in its day (and still looks cool now)?

    Jaguar should send an XJ as a gift to the new French government…

  29. Richie @ 32:

    1: I bought one. I had been going to order a black with cream leather 2.7 Exclusive with sunroof; having been harangued by the dealer for showing the slightest bit of interest, they got me in with the promise of an ex-demo one in the spec I wanted before I’d got cash to buy one outright, on a cheap finance deal. I have absolutely no complaints about the finance package or deal, but they did lie about the spec – it was Iron Grey, not black, and had no sunroof. When I queried this, I was offered black & cream, but with 20K miles. Mine had 15 miles, basically a new car.

    2: Depreciation. Sticker price on my 15 mile ‘pre-reg’ was £29K or thereabouts. That was immediately slashed by £4K with a ‘deposit contribution’. Then I got £2,800 tradein for a 2004 Suzuki I only paid £2K for.

    After 30 months I was sick of the car, the dealers, etc. and wanted OUT. I traded in for a C3 Airdream+ (a car which I think is excellent, incidentally, even though I will refuse to set foot in a PSA dealership once I’m done with it – I had no choice, no other dealer would take the C6 in). I got £12K back on it, though it was in very slight negative equity on the finance which I absorbed into the C3 (it still cost a lot less per month, and wasn’t going to cost £460 to tax).

    So… a real cost of £24,000 for the car, or £12,000 lost in just under 3 years – I think realistically, it wouldn’t have moved much. Not awesome, but not horrific either.

    Depreciation on list price is nothing like as relevant as depreciation on what you’ve actually spent, I know very few people who paid list for a C6 – particularly a top of the range HDi Exclusive.

    I’m glad the C6 is gone. I do miss the slightly special feeling it had for being so rare, but I couldn’t be proud of choosing it in a way that I could about the CX and XM. They had engineering that worked.

    Now, Jaguar… man. I want an XJ so much. It may be that the XF estate gets my cash first though, as a practical daily driver next to the Morgan 4/4 I want to order.

  30. “You’ll have to forgive me for this indulgence”

    As someone that remembers you from XM-L I only visit here for the Citroen articles 🙂

  31. Wow, I remember XM-L and CX-L… actually, it was missing a morette-fronted XM Estate that resulted in me ending up in a C6

  32. The only celebrity I saw on the telly with a C6 was alexei sayle. Not sure it was his motor but he too is a big car enthusiast even owned a Rover 800 perfect for alternative comedy types.

  33. Some of the sentiments on this board echo the snide remarks when I turned up at a Citroen meet (with a friend who has several CXs, XMs, a Xantia, BX, C4 and C5) in my ZX

    “LOLZ!!!111 LOOK AT TEH PEUGEOT!!!!11111”

    But then anything that wasn’t a 2CV or DS was looked down upon.

    The Xantia was a great car, im looking out for a decent diesel currently. My 1.8 was a relaxing cruiser, but as a hot blooded mid 20s bachelor the call of a cheap GTV was too much….

    Celebs in C6s, I mind Stuart Hall did a review of his. He has “character”. Sarkozy left in a C6, Hollande arrived through the sunroof of a DS5, no doubt because the seat was too uncomfortable with the overly stiff suspension.

    A shame that this is likely the end of hydraulic Citroens. But then, I wouldn’t trust a modern Citroen garage to service such machines, youngsters out of technical college who are trained in servicing C1s.

    A shame too that UK car buyers can’t see beyond their obsession for German products.

    A replacement? In the UK it is likely to be more SUV shaped than C8 or DS9 (for China).
    Perhaps with the PSA GM tie up we can look forward to a Citroen Escalade.

  34. @Keith Adams

    In fairness it was a subset who saw anything beyond DS as not Citroen – they ignored CXs (my friend was in a mk1 Athena), XMs, BXs etc.
    The 2CVers were more appreciative, had a good yarn with some of them.
    Suppose it was a bit mainstream too, like turning up now with a late Xsara.

  35. “The 2CVers were more appreciative”

    I’m not surprised, many people don’t even consider the 2CV as being a car…. (joke, as i do have a soft spot for them)

  36. @44 i fitted a alfasud engine in a dyane 6 and it still would not roll over! anyone remember the 2cv races? i think they was a brilliant car,funny how some greenpeace wallors used to drive them and not recognise the irony……

  37. I need one of these now. Love them…iwill steer clear of the dealers due to a nasty experience in the past…

  38. How many of the 4 were actual sales of new vehicles? If a couple were registered by Citroen UK and if the French Embassy took one, all it would take would be a dealer to register the 4th car and the real sales figure would be zero.

  39. Loving the Trek references 🙂 Your Ilia reference Richard I also got. DS9 though? Photon torpedo launchers as standard I presume? That’d be handy on todays roads (sorry I’ll stop there).

    Shame about the C6, though admittedly I’d never entertain any car like that for myself – be it French, German, Swedish or whatever. Small, quirky, fun and cheap – thats what a French car is to me at least. I am a CX fan though.

  40. @45 they still do racing in 2cv’s – it features regulary on Motors TV. Not sure what engines they have but they shift and its pretty competitve. Last time I saw it was over Easter – think it was Castle Coomb but might be wrong.

  41. Long before the DS9 appears, a gaseous cloud assimilates what’s left of Lancia.

    As engineers approach it’s core, they find an old battered Chrysler MPV, what’s left of the badge indicating that it calls itself “G’nd V’Ger”

  42. What a shame – I loved the TGV adjustable rear seats on the top models. This was a proper Citroen, but no-one likes complicated French cars and the half dozen computerised spheres for the suspension are just too scarey for most.

  43. BSD

    4 cars in a year?

    Ha Ha Ha,i think that 4 cars are all the C6’s sold here in ISRAEL since the car was launched…

    Actually,i do not remember seeing any c6 on the road…

    The only C6 i ever saw was a blue metallic 2.9Hdi parking at the importer’s premises (in ISRAEL,PEUGEOT/CITROEM/MG have the same importer,and it’s main offices,spare parts store,showrooms and garage which also functions as an MOT facility for the 3 models are in the same premises,at the city of BNEI-BRAK near TEL-AVIV).

    Iguess it is driven by one of the top managers there.

    And it is not even a new one-according to it’s licence plate it is at least 2 years old…

  44. Jim @ 56:

    When driving it, you don’t get to sit in the TGV seats (and the legroom isn’t awesome, compared to a CX Prestige at least).

    The computerised spheres aren’t scary – in fact, they’re utterly and completely logical. However, they’re also less effective at doing what a big Citroën should do best, hiding the existence of the road surface. They do keep what is a heavy and dynamically flawed car on the road, but the ride quality really suffers.

  45. Its irrational I know. I accept what Richard Kilpatrick says (and he’s owned one)- but I still want one (if I had the money to burn).

    Of course, it would have to be a second-hand ‘pre-depreciated’ one- but of course, you can’t buy a second-hand car if nobody ever bought one new in the first place…

  46. I actually do have a C6, a 2.7 Executive 59 plate with the TGV seats.

    I have to say that it is about as eccentric as a car can get these days, but I absolutely adore it. Touch wood I haven’t had a single problem in the year I’ve owned here at my local dealer is actually pretty good.

    Its a complete contrast for me as I have riven Alfas and Lancias for most of my life, but I just hate the tyranny of German cars here and love something different, sadly Alfa and Lancia ( well Chrysler for God’s sake here !!)aren’t really really providing this anymore.

    Anyway I can recommend a C6, I love it !!!!

  47. Not sure about the C6, but the spheres in the Xantia were buns to change. If you’ve ever changed an oil filter you can do it, and I’d rather be changing those than springs.

    A shame that everyone is scared of them, they are a useful solution to driving on poor road surfaces. Even Bentley licenced the technology at one point.

  48. Actually it was Rolls Royce who liceneced it. Before they died and became huge BMWs with stick on RR badges

  49. Unsung hero ? With those sales figures “unseen hero” would be more appropriate.

    For me the C6 is an ugly car and too big. Quite like the idea of a C5 though.

  50. It is a big shame that the C6 is to be no more. However, I don’t think that Citroen’s approach is correct at present. All this pseudo-retro-nostalgia with names like DS9 and DS3 demonstrates a lack of enthusiasm at what they are supposed to be doing: manufacturing cars.

    The British buyer is often cash-strapped and wants something reliable and well-engineered. A car that will last ages and ages, and is cheap to insure and tax (post 2001). Now let’s consider the C6: it’s a Citroen, so it’s not going to be as great quality as it’s German rivals. Fail on quality. Build: not as sturdy as German cars: fails on sturdiness. Efficiency: too expensive to tax (when BMW have developed a 5.0 litre diesel that generates less than 200 g/km of CO2 and Citroen at a push gives a 3.0 diesel with 190 g/km, something is clearly not right about choosing a Citroen). So the C6 fails in economy.

    Yes we’ll be moaning their demise as we did the XM, CX and BX, but I think Citroen did not make enough effort with tapping into the major desires of the markets they were trying to break into. So for now, Vauxhall, Ford, German and Japanese remain the safest options over French. Dare I say it, Korean cars are clearly on the up and with generous warranty packages. They are very well built and know the European market well. PSA ought to stop being so full of itself with its ‘we’re French so no matter what, we’ll always have the home market’ attitude and wise up.

    One other thing, I’m not sure why people praise the C6’s interior so much. Yes it looks okay and comfortable, but that dashboard is straight out of the facelifted C5 and the Peugeot 406. That shows a lack of enthusiasm and complete indifference to customers. I do hope to get a C6, preferably a 3.0 HDi, at some point before the collectors come in and push prices up. I’m sure the C6 will appreciate in value as time goes by (XMs in good nick are in excess of £1,500).

  51. @ Tony
    “The British buyer is often cash-strapped and wants something reliable and well-engineered. A car that will last ages and ages, and is cheap to insure and tax (post 2001). Now let’s consider the C6: it’s a Citroen, so it’s not going to be as great quality as it’s German rivals. Fail on quality. Build: not as sturdy as German cars: fails on sturdiness. Efficiency: too expensive to tax (when BMW have developed a 5.0 litre diesel that generates less than 200 g/km of CO2 and Citroen at a push gives a 3.0 diesel with 190 g/km, something is clearly not right about choosing a Citroen). So the C6 fails in economy.”

    Looks like its more of your review of Citroens that is “well” engineered to fail.

  52. Most executive saloon buyers are concerned with status, and that’s currently tied to performance rather than comfort. The days of Citroen as individually ENGINEERED cars are probably over. I wonder how long their hydraulic suspension will be around…

    I’d like to see a large saloon with a Pluriel solution, only with a glass roof structure. That way the laundaulette style for the President will be included in the standard version.

  53. @Gadgety

    Sadly it does look like the hydropneumatic days are over.

    Ever since the ZX (good cars BTW, comfortable without feeling boatlike) the mid range has had springs to appeal to mass market.

    The latest ‘germanic’ C5 kept it for the top of the range models or as an option. The car seems to be a slow seller compared to the 508. It may not be replaced if Citroen are going for 2 pronged C ‘budget’ and DS ‘premium’ ranges.

    The C6 was quietly axed, de facto replacement being the DS5 (which still in my humble opinion looks a little too Picasso-like, big Citroens should be low and elegant!) which has springs (and in fact has been mentioned in reviews that the ride is slightly harsh!).

    A combination of buyers seemingly preferring Nurburgring-honed handling over comfort, buyers ignorance of the system and improving roads in France seems to have been the death nell.

    By the Xantia era the pipes were improved, renewing spheres was easy, the Activa showed that comfort and handling could be combined. It was a system that at one point Rolls Royce-Bentley and an adapted system to the Mercedes 450SEL.

    • @ Will M:

      By the Xantia era the pipes were improved, renewing spheres was easy, the Activa showed that comfort and handling could be combined. It was a system that at one point Rolls Royce-Bentley and an adapted system to the Mercedes 450SEL.

      Except that RR never used the system for springing, they did in fact use the patented high pressure pump and accumulator for the self leveling system on the Silver Shadow. Springs and damping have been pretty standard. The self leveling system on the rear is very similar to that of the Austin 3 Litre, which during the development history had a connection to RR.

      Mercedes used a true Hydropneumatic suspension on the 450SEL 6.9 ‘super’-saloon (a car that could cruise along the Autobahn at 135mph without breaking a sweat in the early 70s). On the W126 model following this, the Hydropneumatic suspension was an option on the V8 models. Mercedes modified the system to include anti-sink valves from the first day.

  54. @Alexander Boucke

    The Peugeot 405 Mi16 4×4 used hydropneumatic suspension in the rear, presumably for self levelling due to the weight of the 4×4 drivetrain?

    Anti-Sink came along in the Citroens midway though the Xantias life. Seemed a shame, as that was part of the appeal to me, the ‘sleeping cat’ look of a parked big French car.
    It also exercised the system, getting it to raise every morning.
    Though I can see that it might have put off some people. I remember my dads BX, someone came to the door asking was that his BX outside? He said yes, the guy said his suspension had collapsed. It was just sank, he raised it to the highest setting – to the fellas amazement!

  55. I drove a C6 fast on a fast, interesting road. Several times. It fell apart, from a poise perspective. I took account of its weight, trying every which way I know to corner a car quickly, it consistently failed. At low speeds it was sort of impressive, in a way a Zil might have been.

    Remembering the speeds indicated, I took a Xantia along the same road and it felt uncannily similar, if a little less stable, at the same speeds. But it had covered almost 200,000 miles. There was an old Mercedes W124 class Touring on my drive at the time which had recently had new spheres fitted. It was a particularly good example from halfway through the car’s production run and so before quality dipped and I was interested to know if it would even think about this section of road at speed.

    The estate car transformed from a soft-feeling barge into a precise tool at the same speed on the clock – quite composed, unruffled and feeling very planted, unlike the Xantia. Given old Mercedes’ speedometer accuracy I was probably going 5-10mph more quickly than in the Peugeots.

    I phoned a friend with a CX. He trusts my driving abilities and handed me his car. This car covered the same road with a similar finesse and composure to the Mercedes, but with far less effort from the driver. Unlike the 300TE, the car felt like it could feel the same 10mph faster. It did. Nothing changed other than the speed of the passing hedgerows. The car felt pulled to the ground by magnets. I carried on going faster until I called a halt when I realised three figure speeds were not really acceptable, no matter how quiet the road and how visible the road ahead, even through corners.

    I arrived back grinning. My friend saw the look and checked the fuel gauge. “So now you know?” My respect for old Citroëns was complete – and I began to realise how utterly ordinary a Xantia or most other Peugoet Citroëns are.

    More recently I have tried this road in a modern Jaguar, it was happy enough at CX speeds but kept threatening to bounce off the road with its stiff springs – it required a degree of skill and I wouldn’t have gone at half the speed on a wet road. The CX felt as if it would have been almost as happy had the road been frost-pocketed.

  56. @Rusting Gently

    I was once a passenger in a Xantia Activa. The way it cornered would put a Celica to shame, yet it still rode beautifully like a Xantia.

    I’m surprised that the C6 didn’t have a similar Activa system. It has to be said though, that it would be set up for comfort rather than Nurburgring times.

    The likes of the CX is a magic carpet ride, last time I drove one I’d forgotten how effective the suspension (and brakes!) are.
    But the thing is, it didn’t sell enough for Citroen to exist independently, hence Peugeot-Citroen and the resultant platform sharing / compromises.

    The C6 itself is no more, the defacto replacement being the DS5 – steel sprung.

  57. My old Xantia Activa

    Wonder if it’s still alive?

    Loved that car, and dearly wish I still had it. I’d say it’s in the top 10 of all the cars I’ve ever owned, and far more memorable than the two or three C6s I’ve driven subsequently.

  58. @Keith Adams

    Tax lookup


    Vehicle details could not be found
    As it has not been possible to locate the vehicle details, your enquiry cannot proceed and has been cancelled. ”

    I’ve heard it isn’t on the MID either 🙁

  59. The car pictured in this article was mine. I loved the exterior design and still do but everything else – and I really mean everything – from the overall build quality, to the ride, performance, economy, reliability, depreciation, gearbox, interior quality and more – was dire. It was as though Citroen had spent their entire budget on the exterior design and everything else was done on the cheap. Oh, and that’s without mentioning the pathetic, clueless Citroen dealers! It was, sad to say, the worst car ownership experience I’ve ever had, in 30 years of motoring.

    • Sadly, my experience also. One that isn’t helped by having had the opportunity to drive Keith’s Activa and V6 Xantia – I’d already decided my 1.8i SX estate had better ride quality and ‘felt’ like a nicer driving experience, the Activa shows what a top end Citroën should be in terms of suspension, and the V6 shows what was possible with refinement and performance.

      Though I didn’t think the depreciation was too bad, as I got the C6 at a massive discount. As an experience in car ownership and satisfaction, the C3 Airdream+ that replaced it was leagues ahead.

  60. Despite not being a fan of big citroens, I can remember seeing a black C6 in a citroen dealer’s showroom when I was buying some parts for my Bx. They had only just been launched, and I was totally blown away. Black with cream leather, to my eyes it looked to have more presence than a big BMW. A stunning looking motor.

  61. Went for a test drive in one of these the other day.. Dad’s looking to replace the briefcase and one of these came up locally…

    Oh Dear..

    It rode awfully, I’m sorry, but it did. I know it’ll have been a bad example, apparently the never failing spheres like to, well, fail which can give the effects we had.. rumbles on rough ground, rear end wallows like a boat at speed…

    The BIG problem is, with them so rare, it’s unlikely i’ll get Dad back behind the wheel of one where all 7 spheres are up to scratch…

    The search for a Range Rover starts… Thanks a lot, stereotypical french reliability.

    • Who told you that the spheres never fail? The spheres are consumables in all hydro suspensions.
      If you can’t afford to replace them, that’s a totaly different matter, and certainly not a fault of the car.
      By the way, if i can’t afford to maintain a hydractive Citroën, i wouldn’t go anywhere near a Range Rover. Expensive cars are expensive to run.

  62. I took the plunge on a silver 2.7hdi over a year ago. I keep it in storage and use it sparingly. I akways wanted one, then this came along, great price, v low mileage.

    What do I think now? It’s a strange one. Visually, from some angles, it’s exceptional and from others, a big let-down. Dynamically, its occasionally irritating. HP should be super-smooth right? Maybe the suspension needs calibration. Then you find one somewhere parked and something is just right. The light, the angle, and I think to myself: “I’ve got one of those” and I can’t wait for the next time to fire it up. Long termer par excellence.

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