When the Citroën C6 went on sale in Australia it was offered in two versions, one with a Ford-sourced 2.7-litre twin-turbocharged diesel engine and the other with Citroën’s aged 3.0-litre petrol unit but there was virtually no demand for the latter. In fact, there was not much demand for the diesel either and sales were limited to perhaps 30 cars per year. The petrol version is no longer available and a torquier and more fuel-efficient 3.0-litre unit (still Ford-sourced) has replaced the 2.7. In theory, the $118,500 C6 competes with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 5-Series but in reality it stands alone as a very special luxury car that is the twenty-first century equivalent of the legendary Citroën DS which was the star of the 1955 Paris Salon. The DS (those initials amounting to a pun on the French word for Goddess, Diesse) remained in production until the mid-1970s.
With the sleek and lavish C6, Citroën has recreated the spirit of the DS in a thoroughly modern and efficient guise. The blend of a sybaritic and surprisingly spacious cabin, that unique hydro-pneumatic suspension and a radically elegant body sets it apart from other luxury cars but Citroën is no longer seen as a major player in this market sector – not just locally but anywhere in the world. More’s the pity.
Citroën C6 HDI Overview
Despite elements of nostalgia in both the exterior and interior design, this is a thoroughly contemporary luxury car. It is arguably the safest vehicle across the entire market with the notable feature of a pedestrian-protecting bonnet. The 18-inch alloys harmonise superbly with the styling. High quality leather and magnificent fit and finish make the interior feel truly bespoke in a way those of the ostensible German rivals don’t: the C6 feels special. All the expected luxuries and some unexpected ones such as the heads-up instrument readouts and amazing expanding door pockets help justify the on-road price of $125K (at least until you contemplate the rate of depreciation, a three-year old car now having a wholesale value of $50K).
Citroën C6 HDI Engine
The previous 2.7-litre diesel engine produced 150 kW of power and 440 Nm of torque but the 3.0-litre unit has a more satisfying 177 kW backed by an extra 10 Nm of torque for effortless progress. This is essentially the same engine used in the latest Jaguars, albeit with lower peak power and torque figures. There is a superb six-speed automatic transmission. Like every Citroën saloon ever made, this is a front-wheel drive car.
Citroën C6 HDI Interior
Everything about this interior feels designed. This is at the heart of what makes the C6 so appealing. The very light (almost white) interior shows to best effect, although it can be demanding to keep immaculate. Of course, the seats are superbly comfortable, although the front ones are somewhat short of support. All-round vision is excellent and there is impressive sprawling space in the rear.
Citroën C6 HDI Exterior & Styling
Over-sized logos are commonly used to establish brand identity. Interestingly, this is a tactic used by Peugeot, Citroën’s fellow brand within the PSA Group. But from any angle the C6 could only be a Citroën and there is a delightful continuity between it and the 1955 DS, via the 1974 CX. It is not retro styling. Rather, the C6 builds on the traditional themes but translates them into a contemporary statement of style. It is a very colour-sensitive design and darker hues (especially in combination with the off-white cabin) look best. So forget silver.
Citroën C6 HDI On The Road
This is not a performance car and the zero to 100 km/h time is only modest. Like its illustrious predecessors, the C6 is more than anything else a sublime long distance touring car. At suburban speeds the ride quality does not compare with the 1955 DS19 but on the open road it has few peers. Where those earlier Citroën flagships often displayed fantastic roll angles, the C6’s highly computerised suspension virtually cancels this out and the hefty limousine achieves astonishing cornering speeds. The new engine gives even better economy and on the open road it should be possible to use little more than six litres per 100 kilometres. It is an especially quiet and smooth car on the open road but there is a disappointing amount of suspension noise at low speeds.
Citroën C6 HDI Challenges
A little more acceleration from a standing start would be welcome. Those elegant alloys are prone to kerb damage. But the C6’s biggest problem is nothing directly to do with its design but is a consequence of Citroën’s history in Australia: depreciation. Its predecessor, the XM, suffered tumultuous falls and this once $90K-plus car could be purchased for $20K at five or six years of age. The C6 though is a far higher quality item and is likely to fare less disastrously and probably no worse than some upmarket German models such as the BMW 7-Series and the Audi A8.
Citroën C6 HDI Verdict
The C6 will appeal greatly to those who treasure the marque but is likely to leave others puzzled.
Citroën C6 HDI The Competition
In truth, this is one of those rare machines that has no direct rival. Perhaps it is closer to an Audi A6 than anything else by virtue of its front-wheel drive configuration but the appeal of the two cars is utterly different. Its greatest rival is the much less expensive C5 which shares the same mechanicals but somehow fails to achieve the charisma.