- With Citroen ending production of the C6 next week, France's long line of large, grand sedans appears under threat.
- Recent big French sedans from Peugeot, Renault and Citroen have never caught on in Europe or made it to the U.S.
- Citroen's recent Numero 9 concept presages a possible new sports-luxury wagon, with one eye on China.
PARIS — A somber milestone will be marked in France next week when Citroen ends production of its spectacular but slow-selling C6 prestige sedan.
Recent big French sedans from Peugeot, Renault and Citroen have never caught on in Europe or made it to the U.S.
The C6, launched with plenty of Gallic flair in 2005, has many of the attributes that once made big Citroens like the DS and CX great: avant garde aerodynamic styling; hi-tech self-leveling suspension; a fabulous ride and an idiosyncratic catwalk attitude like no other car on the road.
For all that, the C6 has not been a success, making no inroads against the premium German brands that dominate the executive sector in Europe.
So now, given its slow sales and perilous state of the French car market, Citroen is bowing to the inevitable and putting the C6 out of its misery as of December 19. The result, however, is that France will no longer have a grand sedan to call its own.
In recent years, Citroen, Peugeot and Renault have all made noble attempts to crack the luxury market, but outside France (and even inside), models like the Peugeot 607, Renault's Vel Satis and Avantime and Citroen C6 have all had limited appeal. At that level of the market, it is Mercedes, BMW and Audi that have the cars and badges that buyers want.
So, is it all over for what some French romantically call, "The Grand Routier?" Not necessarily.
Renault is evaluating plans for a new luxury sub-brand called Initiale Paris. Designs and concepts are still being tested but one promising market for such a program could be China where French luxury goods are much sought after.
So far, it's been suggested that an Initiale Paris debut model could be based off a Mercedes E-Class platform. But a link with Nissan's Infiniti brand (Renault's partner) could also make sense, sources say. Renault used the Initiale name for a concept sedan back in 1995, which went no further than the show stand.
Citroen meantime brought out the striking Numero 9 hybrid sports wagon concept at the 2012 Beijing Auto Show. Could a version of this yet see production as a new upscale Citroen DS9? Citroen has already scored some success with its DS sub-brand in Europe, and with the prestige DS5, so theoretically anything is possible.
Edmunds says: It appears to be the end of an era for Citroen, as buyers shun the French flagship sedan in favor of German offerings.