Citroen is a very small player in Australia – just 1500 sales annually – that’s less than 0.2 per cent of total vehicles sold. So: who would actually want one?
Citroen’s a niche product – a David, floating in a sea of automotive goliaths. But there’s one area where the diminutive French brand has recently re-mapped the Australian automotive landscape. Citroen has given the Hyundais, Kias, Mitsubishis, Isuzus and even Lexii (from the Latin: for Lexus, plural) something to think about – and they’ve dropped a gravity bomb on every other player.
Australia's Best New Car Warranty
Citroen has upped the warranty on the new Grand C4 Picasso and the sporty/luxurious DS car range to an incredible six years with unlimited kilometres. And if you want roadside assistance with that, for the full six years, well, they throw that in.
Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi and Izuzu had all previously occupied the top rung on warranty, at five years, with Lexus at four, but the bar has just been raised. Everyone else is still stuck halfway to the top, at three.
This six-year warranty is a strategic move clearly targeted at curing any lingering reservations about the quality and reliability of the product, in the minds of potential buyers. A way to open up the brand to a bigger audience. It’s a substantial benefit to you, if you buy one.
Speaking of which, let’s look at who – exactly – should be putting Citroen on their short lists?
Is Citroen Right for You?
I just spent half a day taste testing the pick of the Citroen lineup – the Grand C4 Picasso, the DS5 and the DS3. These are very impressive vehicles on objective criteria – performance, fit, finish, premium materials, standard equipment levels – things like that, which you can feel, touch and measure. But what really got me across the line with these cars was: they dare to be different. In this area, Citroen is singularly unbeatable.
Citroen’s designers clearly do not walk around the world’s great motor shows inventing new ways to follow the crowd. Specifically, they don’t try to copy the Germans. They do design very differently. They’re much more overt. It’s great. So, if you don’t want to drown in a sea of Volkswagen Golfs, Mercedes-Benz C Classes, Mazda3s or Honda Odysseys, then, by definition, Citroen should definitely be on your short list.
They are – literally – the market’s anti-kudos European cars. People will stop you in the street and ask you: “What is that?” Until then, it’ll be your little secret.
These things are authentically French, too – like the Bastille, the Arc de Triomphe, and that big steel tower. As in, they’re still made authentically in France, unlike the purportedly German Volkswagen Polo and BMW 3 Series – currently South African – or the Q7, now proudly made in Slovakia. Where everything’s cheaper. Especially labour.
I don’t use the words ‘blown away’ very often in reviews. But I was authentically blown away by the brain-bendingly beautiful interior of the Citroen DS5. The watch-band leather quilting on the seats (gorgeous), the aircraft-style auxiliary controls that effectively continue the centre console up and into the ceiling, and the textbook engineering definition of the elegant solution in the bifurcated A-pillars, which look great, but they also boost forward blind spot vision and add strength but not weight. Clever.
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
The Grand C4 Picasso actually makes people movers sexy – one of the last great automotive design challenges. You could drive it everywhere without getting the word ‘breeder’ tattooed across your forehead. The equipment level – sensational. The 360-degree camera system: brilliant. Fuel economy: unbelievable. As in, how did they manage that? Versatility factor: through the roof. And the drive experience is excellent. The Grand C4 Picasso could be an extra on the set of the next Transformers movie. As in: My other car is Optimus Prime or, a Deceptacon…
And the DS3: Affordable, sexy, niche, and deadest sporty. A great driver’s car, on a budget. If you want to blend in, buy a Golf or a Polo. But if you want to stand out, make a statement – and really, really, enjoy chucking a car into a bend, hard, and getting all the right feedback – then the DS3 is definitely on your short list.
Overall, the Germans have the whole Teutonic reservation thing covered. They’re minimalist in terms of both style and substance – and they just violate if you want to spec the car up to even premium Japanese levels. You want a steering wheel and pedals with that? We offer that in our ‘driver controls option pack’ – just $3990. And glass? That’s in the environment protection pack: $2490. It doesn’t hurt too much if you say it fast.
Citroen doesn’t do that – these cars come very highly specced standard. The flair factor is sensational. They’ve got some quirks – but these three cars, I loved. The ride’s a bit firm in the DS range, but the dynamics are spot-on. Luxury on the features; sporty on the dynamics. And the warranty protection will be a real wake-up call to the rest of the market. If you want ‘premium’ and you don’t want to blend in: put Citroen on your list. You’ll be part of a small but select group.