You have to love preconceived notions, and how so many people can be shaped by them. The car world is packed with them and many, many people who enjoy spouting off ‘wisdom’ that they’ve picked up via Top Gear or some man in the pub. We all know – we love BL, BMC and Rover products, and there’s probably nothing we’ve not heard of before. I mention this because I’ve celebrated a year’s ownership of my Citroën C6 without a single breakdown…
I bought it on 19 May 2015, a late birthday present to myself, after selling the Renault Avantime which had been delightful company for the previous six months or so. That was a car I really bonded with, and the only reason I sold it was because I’d decided that I wanted a Citroën C6 more and that the time was right to get one. I’d driven an example back at its launch in 2006 and, ever since then, I just knew I was going to have to have one. Besides, Citroën and I have form, and I’ve been a serial owner of XMs, BXs, Xantias and CXs. The C6 was an obvious evolution of my affliction.
Getting to the C6 was easier than I thought it was going to be. In 2015, buying an early one would set me back about £4000 – and that’s probably a bit cheaper now. So, the Avantime went, as did an Alfa Romeo project I had on the books and a horribly unreliable BMW 528i Touring. When combined, my target was achieved and, as luck would have it, a black (the only colour to have) 2006 C6 Exclusive popped up for sale in St. Neots, I few miles down the road.
So, I went to see it, and inevitably the deal was done. I didn’t even haggle – very unlike me. What did I get for my money? Well, it had 105,000 miles on the clock, had a full service history and was in very rude health. Aside from a few wheel scuffs, it was pretty much as it was when it popped out of the factory back in 2006. Interestingly, it’s been such a fulfilling car to own, that my habits of flipping cars in quick succession, as well as owning four, five or six at once, both seem to have died down. In fact, a year on, all I have in the ‘fleet’ is this C6 and a Range Rover P38 – even my beloved Lancia Delta Integrale is just about to be sold!
A week or so after I bought it, I headed for the Le Mans 24 Hours, and it romped there and back without missing a beat. It was a flying visit, but I had time to take some photos in a suitably French setting, while admiring the fact that so many people over there seemed to love seeing this magnificent car on their roads.
Being an Exclusive, it’s what you would describe as loaded – the equipment level is impressive for a ten-year old car. Here are the highlights:
- Active Xenon headlamps
- Head-up display
- Satnav and integrated ICE
- Electric heated front seats
- Heated rear seats
- Climate control
- Computer controlled active suspension
- A V6 twin-turbo diesel, pushing out 200bhp
- Cruise control
And so it goes on… When I tweeted about my car, the supplying dealer got in touch and told me about its history as a dealer demo, which was a nice touch, and being a C6, it does feel like I’m in an exclusive (sorry) club, as there are so few out there. When I rolled into work in it, many people told me how amazing it looked and how ‘brave’ a purchase it was – and that’s without mentioning the depreciation I was undoubtedly going to suffer. Hmm…
As the miles rolled on, I fell further for this car. It went into the local Citroen specialist (Pleaides Car Services in Sawtry, Cambridgeshire), where it received a regular service and transmission fluid change (as an insurance against future failure). From that moment on, it’s been a pleasure to rack up the miles in – and, in what has been a tumultuous year for me, it’s been a faithful companion. That means the world to me.
What’s it like to drive? Well, for committed Citroënistes, it’s not the softy you might expect. Compared with its contemporaries, it suspension is supple and reasonably well-damped, but compared with, say, an XM, it’s choppy and suffers from too much fore/aft pitch. I’d also been running a Xantia Activa and, after that, driving the C6 felt like a retrograde step. New tyres would help, as I subsequently found.
As long as you don’t throw it into corners, it’s pretty planted in the twistier stuff, although you do have to understand how to get the best out of it – not bad for a 1900kg behemoth. However, in truth, this car is happiest on the motorway, chewing up and spitting out miles, and soothing the weary driver.
In terms of performance, it always felt okay, if not especially quick. Fuel consumption was also disappointing, at between 33-35mpg in most situations. Given it costs pushing £500 per year to tax, it’s not a car that you can run on the cheap. Early in 2016, when the emissions system started throwing up errors, I decided to turn the setback into an opportunity by getting the car looked over and remapped.
I entrusted this job to Hedaux Motor Company, which is run by Dan, the son of Les Hedaux, who’s a banger rally veteran friend, notable for buying my Rover 216 GTI, which starred in the 2004 Staples2Naples. He kept it years, too, which makes him okay in my books. The remap cost £360, and what it gained me (as well as a repair on my knackered turbo actuator) has been astonishing in terms of throttle response. It’s also improved the fuel consumption to around 38mpg, as well as giving the car significantly more mid-range punch. Excellent, I can now bully Audi A4s!
Other than that, it’s needed a new set of tyres. I went for Avon ZZ5s, which seem to be doing a sterling job of keeping it all in check. At 119,000 miles, it’s now approaching the need for another service – and that’s most evident in the braking performance, which could be enhanced massively by the fitment of a new set of front pads. And, er, that’s about it.
What about the dreadful Citroën quality, reliability and depreciation? Well, the interior is still solid and squeak-free, while the stereo still sounds good, the seats look like they’ve never been sat in and the controls all still work as they should. In terms of reliability, it’s not been trouble-free – the cruise control packed up, although I am assured it’s just an electrical connection and, as reported before, the emissions system reported an error. The active rear spoiler also had a mind of its own in the winter, but seems to have settled down again. As for the depreciation – yeah, it cost me £4000, and is probably worth £3000 now.
But, do you know what? I love it and, for the first time in a very long time, I own a car I’m proud of, and one that I walk away from after every journey and give it a long, lingering backwards glance. It has huge road presence, looks wonderful and, from what I can see, women seem to love it, too! That’s priceless in my book.