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Future Classic Friday: Citroen C6

Published 29 September 2017

It was the Citroën that was five years late to the party - and even then, there was an argument that it should never have been invited. 

Launched in 2005, the C6 was the long-awaited replacement for the wedge-shaped XM. It would become the fourth large, hydraulically sprung Citroën, in a line that began with DS, via CX. Indeed, Citroën made no secret of the fact the C6 had heritage behind it.

The idea of the car was previewed at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show as the Lignage concept car - a word that means the same in French as it does in English (lineage). But at the time, it was nothing more than an heir apparent. 

Citroën had been badly stung by the XM. It was a car that, in many respects, was wonderful. Bold, striking, cosseting to drive and as bonkers as the world had come to expect a big Citroën to be, it was also a car that fell at the first hurdle.

Citroen C6 (2)

Great it may have been, but Citroën's marketeers pointed the car at the mainstream exec market. An alternative, if you like, to a Ford Granada or Vauxhall Carlton. The Citroen's complexity and horrendous reliability record, coupled to poor fuel consumption and high running costs, meant it quickly fell out of favour with fleet managers. 

The public weren't enamoured, either, and so the XM never really made the grade. As a result, while Citroën's impassioned design team wanted to get the XM replacement out in 2000 or 2001, pretty much as soon as its predecessor was put out to pasture, the money men approached the notion with a degree of trepidation.

After all, parent company PSA already had the Peugeot 607, which may have been indifferent, but was perfectly capable of French ministerial duty alongside the equally mundane Renault Safrane.

Undettered, those within Citroën who wanted the C6 went back to the drawing board and refined their concept. If the car wasn't going to be mainstream, then they'd make it more individual. an exclusive and expensive car for those that wanted to be different.

Citroen C6 (1)

And their argument won the day, thanks to some lovely attention to detail, including hydraulically-operated door pockets, TGV-style sliding rear seats and a self-cleaning concave rear window - a feature stolen straight from the CX.

After a protracted gestation period of more than five years, the C6 finally arrived, and while the media generally liked it, very few suggested you should buy one. As such, the C6 became a car that, from the outset, was only really bought by enthusiasts.

From a classic perspective, this has its advantages. In the UK, for example, fewer than 1000 were sold, mostly either 3.0 V6s in a high specification, or 2.7 HDi diesels for people who used them more intensely. There were also a handful of very late 3.0 HDis, which were arguably more reliable. But with only 600 or so left (many of the UK's cars have been exported to Australia, where it has acquired a cult following), choice is limited.

They're not cheap, either. The least expensive one we've spotted for sale lately is still touching £3000, which for a 12-year old Citroën, especially a wafty executive one, is previously unheard of. Did the C6 - the last ever big hydraulically-sprung Citroën and a car that failed to truly capture the imagination of the British public - actually get it right? Only time will tell.

Comments

David Walshe    on 29 September 2017

There's a place reserved for the C6 along side the Avantime in my virtual dream garage. Has to be petrol. In there as well is an Alfa 8C, an Abarth 500, an RS6 Avant, MkVI Golf GTi, Honda NSX, M2, Panda 4wd and Fiat 127 1050.

Oscillator    on 2 October 2017

I remember test driving a C6 shortly after they came out. It drove like I imagine a 69 Chevrolet would have - horribly wallowy, no steering feel whatsoever, but silent. The other thing I remember are the door pockets, which were so intrusive into the footwell I could not get anything like a decent driving position. An interesting, but awful car. I didn't buy one.

Compost Corner    on 2 October 2017

I thought long and hard about buying a slightly used C6 before my attention was drawn by a slightly used Alfa 166. I bought a 5-series instead and have always slightly regretted it...

Robin Chatterjee    on 3 October 2017

Why does C6 have such a large engine. In today's technology you do not need such large engine which also will be gas guzzler and will add to the cost of maintaining the car. Surely I would have thought the French designers of the car would read the comments about the car and would improve the design in line with what the public want for it is they who will buy these cars that will make the car popular or not. Perhaps the French still has the DeGaulle mentality to say 'Non' to everything first as they seem to think that they know best and the public must follow what they say.

   on 3 May 2019

Well, they may have just turned another corner....I bought a used C6 exclusive 3.0 HDI here in Oz in 2017 (it's now 2019) for AUD22,000. There aren't many 3.0 HDI versions here, and it would seem that they're the most desirable version. Lately, three 2.7L versions have sold for around AUD30,000 and I believe the 3.0L HDI version could fetch about AUD32,000. Needless to say, I'm not selling mine! The 3.0 HDI versions are becoming collectibles here in Oz.

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