The Citroen C6 has always come off as a peculiar car since it was introduced seven years ago – very stylish, unique in its appeal, very French, but not much of a big seller. In fact the C6’s days on the showroom floor are nearly over.
Even for a European resident the C6 remains a rare sight indeed, until I travelled to Paris a few weeks ago – C6s are everywhere. Spend a little bit of time in central Paris and you will see a couple dozen of them from morning to evening, rather than one every other month like elsewhere in Europe. Obviously, being French-made makes it a common sight, and a default fleet choice for the French government. But it’s not only the government that uses them: taxi drivers, chauffeuring services, as well as embassies seem to be loyal Citroen customers. So, if you like, the Citroen C6 is France’s Lincoln Town Car – a few people buy them, but they’re mostly seen in some kind of fleet service.
It’s a shame that the Citroen C6 isn't a big seller, because the C6 is truly a standout car. It has its own unique styling and isn’t trying to mimic its German rivals, i.e. the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, Mercedes Benz E-Class, etc. It is also a descendant of the DS from the 1950s, a car that was so far ahead of its time – both in terms of styling and engineering – that Citroen sold 12,000 of them on the first day it was unveiled at the 1955 Paris Motor Show.
In terms of power the C6 could be had with: a 2.2-litre diesel engine (170hp); a 2.7-litre V6 diesel (204hp) which was then replaced by a 3.0-litre V6 (240hp) in 2009 – both these engines can also be found in Jaguars, Land Rover Discoverys and Range Rover Sports; or a 3.0-litre petrol V6 pumping out 211hp. The C6 was available with a six-speed automatic transmission, however the 2.2-litre diesel could be had with a six-speed manual. The fastest version was indeed the 3.0-litre diesel, which could accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 8.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 240 km/h.
The C6 was definitely a spacious car to ride in, and had a few cool features – such as head-up display, and electrically adjustable rear seats – to entertain both driver and passenger. But the biggest standout quality was the ride comfort. Thanks to the use hydropneumatic suspension, the suspension not only absorbs bumps well, but can keep the car completely level if ever one of its tyres is blown off – just as President De Gaulle found out with the DS after a failed assassination attempt in 1962.
So why was the C6 not as popular as its DS ancestor? For one thing, the DS was groundbreaking, there was nothing quite like it before. Fast-forward fifty years and the C6 all of a sudden seems a bit déjà vu, it’s a bit like a violin in an iPod world (its German rivals) – while one expresses artistic talent, the other amazes with its capability. Another reason, was that it was probably seen as a bit expensive for a Citroen, especially since Citroen is seen as more of an affordable car brand than a premium brand. Then you have the depreciation factor, anyone who enjoys going through used car classifieds knows that Citroens lose their value very quickly, meaning many people prefer sticking with the German alternatives which hold on to their value a lot better.
Production of the C6 stops in mid-December, and if you are looking to get yourself one before then, prices start at 57,450 euros in France. However, if you don’t mind getting yourself a used one, a five-year-old 2.7-litre diesel version with less than 100,000km can be had for around 10,000 euros. A similarly-aged 3.0-litre V6 petrol with the same mileage can be had for just under 9,000 euros. You can get them even cheaper if you are willing to get an example with more than 100,000km.
Citroen plans to replace the C6 with a production version of the DS9 concept (no date has been set as yet), which foregoes the retro shape of the C6 and its predecessors. However, like many large Citroens, the DS9 has great visual impact. Let’s just hope that it is more commercially successful when it goes on sale.
By Alex Kisiri