GENEVA – Citroen has two new cars that will help define the brand’s future, or muddy it.
The facelifted C3 launches the French auto maker’s idea of diverging the C-line from the growing DS line of higher-end models. It has modern touches but is plain compared with the popular DS3 that is helping realize Citroen’s dream of moving upscale.
The all-new C4 Picasso peoplemover coming to market in June is introduced in the slight disguise of the prototype Technospace. It is more aggressively designed, slightly smaller and more efficient than the current version, and strategically it seems to fall somewhere between the C-line and the DS-line.
The C3 has sold more than 3 million units since its introduction in 2002, with the second generation launched in 2009. The facelift has a new grille, which is said to be the face of future C-line models, and new prices starting at €12,950 ($16,860) in France.
New gasoline engines, the Vti 68 and Vti 82, join the 1.2L Vti 120, and diesels include the HDI 70, e-HDI 70, HDI 90, e-HDI90 and e-HDI 115, the best of which emits just 87 g/km of carbon dioxide. Extras include a panoramic windshield that rolls back nearly over the driver’s head and a rear camera to aid in parking.
Citroen argues the C-line is not trying to be a low-cost competitor to Renault’s entry-level Logan models, but instead targets customers who don’t care so much about handling or acceleration but want connectivity and practicality.
“We identified a demand for a practical and friendly product corresponding to a new lifestyle,” says Jean-Christophe Quemard, director-programs at PSA Peugeot Citroen, in an interview with the magazine L’Úsine Nouvelle.
“Unlike low-cost (models), where all features are available with a minimum quality, the vehicles of the C-line include some basic levels but on specific points. We believe that there is market share to be had, but low-cost is not a direction for us.”
The new C4 Picasso will ride on PSA’s new platform EMP2 (Efficient Modular Platform 2), which cuts its mass and boosts its mileage, with the best versions emitting just 98 g/km of CO2.
The C4 Picasso has been a popular model at Citroen, competing with cars such as the Renault Scenic and Ford C-Max, but the segment itself has been in decline as customers move toward cross/utility vehicles.
Perhaps in response, the new C4 Picasso is more angular than its predecessor and has an especially aggressive styling in the face, with its forward lighting on two levels.
The car is shorter than its predecessor, but luggage space grows 7%. Stop/start is standard with the 120-hp and 170-hp gasoline engines and the 115-hp and 170-hp diesels.
According to LMC Automotive, peoplemovers such as the C4 Picasso and the segment of compact SUV/CUVs each held about 15% share of the European market last year, while in 2005, peoplemovers represented 17% and small SUVs were at 6%.