Three years after throwing within the native towel, French producer Citroën has re-entered the South African automobile market with three spectacular new merchandise – the C3, the C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross.
Identified for its quirky designs and modern merchandise, in 2016 Citroën left South African shores resulting from sluggish gross sales. The yr was a torrid one for the native automobile business, with gross sales dropping 11.4% in comparison with 2015. However not so for all producers – the Toyota Hilux topped the charts that yr with gross sales of 35,428 adopted intently by the Ford Ranger, with 32,468 items offered. Citroën solely managed to promote a paltry 500 items, regardless of the funky C4 Cactus being a finalist within the 2016 SA Automotive of the Yr competitors.
For many people within the motoring media it was tragic to see a model depart that had as soon as been a prime innovator on this planet of motoring.
Established in 1919, only a yr after the top of World Conflict 1, the Citroën car firm was based by Andre Citroën, one of many true geniuses of motoring.
After dropping his father to suicide when he was simply six years previous, as a baby Citroën was impressed by the adventures of Jules Verne and after seeing the Eiffel Tower erected for the World Exhibition in 1889, on the age of 11, he determined he needed to change into an engineer.
After finishing his engineering diploma in 1900, impressed by Henry Ford and his extremely productive meeting line heralding mass manufacturing, Andre Citroën visited Ford a lot of occasions within the US. The primary car off the Citroën meeting line was the Kind A, a tribute to Ford’s revolutionary Mannequin T.
The Kind A had a four-cylinder engine with a prime pace of 65km/h. Though it had its limitations – brakes had been operated by hand and restricted to the rear wheels – it was a fantastic machine, opening up a complete new world of freedom and mobility for a war-torn France.
Not solely was Citroën an excellent engineer, he was additionally a trailblazer in advertising and marketing, hiring pilots to write down the identify “Citroën” within the sky on the opening of the seventh Paris Motor Present, in 1922. Between 1925 and 1934, utilizing 250,000 mild bulbs and 600km of wiring, a 30m excessive phrase spelling out “Citroën” on the Eiffel Tower lit up the Paris skyline.
Citroën realised the ability of the shopper and was one of many first producers to rearrange financing and permit potential consumers to test-drive the car.
By the early 1930s, Citroën had change into the fourth largest car producer on this planet. However it was the 1934 Traction Avant, the primary mass-produced, steel-bodied passenger automobile with front-wheel drive, that grew to become the Corolla for Citroën. In its 23-year run, greater than 750,000 items had been constructed, in coupé, hatchback and convertible derivatives.
Tragically, Andre Citroën didn’t dwell to see the complete fruits of his genius. Rumoured to be a compulsive gambler, by 1935 his firm was deep in debt, regardless of being the main automobile producer in Europe and quantity two on this planet. Its foremost creditor was the Michelin Tire Firm, which on the federal government’s request, took Citroën over. A couple of months after the take-over Andre Citroën died of abdomen most cancers. By the next yr Michelin had begun to show issues round.
Nonetheless, from 1939 to 1945 World Conflict 2 performed havoc with manufacturing after the Citroën Javel manufacturing unit was bombed in 1942, which brought about annual manufacturing of Citroën autos to plummet from 100,000 autos to barely 9,000.
Submit-war Citroën thrived and by 1948 France’s beloved 2CV 2 (the Toute Petite Voiture or “very small automobile”), was lastly unveiled to the general public on the Paris Motor Present, the place it wowed the world with its novel seems to be. (Its identify was based mostly on the French phrase deux chevaux actually that means “two horses” as a result of the 2CV had solely two cylinders.)
By 1990, greater than 5 million 2CVs had discovered house owners.
In 1960, the primary mannequin of the DS, the DS 19 Cabriolet, was launched on the Paris Motor Present. (DS was a play on the French phrase déesse, that means goddess.) The heavenly show-stopper, which heralded the idea of customisation, got here in 13 bodywork colors and 11 shades for the leather-based trim and fabric.
In 1962 the DS “saved” the lifetime of French president Normal Charles de Gaulle after an tried assassination outdoors Paris. Regardless of the bodywork and tyres being riddled with bullets, the presidential DS managed to securely ship De Gaulle to a close-by hospital. By 1969, a million DSs had been offered.
My curiosity within the French model was acutely tweaked after attending the a lot anticipated relaunch of Citroën in SA in mid-October the place a lot of classics had been on show. The occasion was primarily a celebration of the launch of three brand-new Citroën fashions in South Africa: the hatchback C3, the C3 Aircross and the C5 Aircross. Citroen is clearly focusing on a SUV and crossover-keen native market with the Aircrosses. I didn’t handle to spend sufficient time in any of the three fashions to provide an in-depth drive assessment however right here’s an summary of the long-lasting French producer’s three new youngsters.
Primarily based on the nippy Peugeot 308 and impressed by the quirky C4 Cactus, the C3 is a B-segment hatchback taking part in in the identical discipline because the Renault Clio, VW Polo and Ford Fiesta.
Powered by mother or father firm Peugeot’s 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, there are two variants on supply. First up is the entry-level 1.2 Really feel – a five-speed handbook with 60kW and 118Nm of torque. I’m extra of a fan of the turbo-charged 1.2T Shine mannequin with its six-speed auto gearbox providing 81kW and 205Nm. Whereas each are properly specced for the phase, together with cruise management, a cool 17.8cm touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six airbags and ESP stability management, the Shine provides rear park help, rear electrical home windows, and 17-inch alloy wheels in addition to “airbumps” on the doorways.
Citroën C3 Aircross
The C3 Aircross is the crossover model of the C3 with added size and peak and has spectacular boot house capability – 410 litres versus the C3’s 300 litres.
There is just one engine choice obtainable – a six-speed auto, 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo engine, providing 81kW and 205Nm and like its youthful sibling, prospects have the choice of the Really feel and Shine fashions.
In case you’re searching for a bit more room however holding with a hatchback really feel, the C3 Aircross is an efficient different. Whereas it shares the identical 17.8cm touchscreen infotainment system because the C3, the Shine mannequin additionally provides satnav, a sliding rear seat, an electrochromatic rearview mirror and a rain sensor. Each the Really feel and Shine have 16-inch alloys as normal, however the Shine might be fitted with 17-inch rims as an choice.
The C5 Aircross
Whereas I imagine the SA market goes to be drawn to the hatchback C3 and crossover C3 Aircross, the C5 Aircross goes to have a way more difficult time luring C-segment SUV prospects who’re loyal to the likes of the Kia Sportage and Toyota Rav4. Nonetheless, regardless of solely having a 40km drive within the C5, I used to be instantly impressed by its suspension system – Citroën has trademarked it as “Progressive Hydraulic Cushions” – which supply hydraulic buffers at the back and front to all however eradicate suspension bounce.
I acquired to check it on some imply gravel dust roads and was very conscious of how easy the drive was. Highway noise can be noticeably all however silent resulting from some efficient soundproofing and insulation. The drive is strong and energetic on this 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbopetrol yielding 121kW and 240Nm. The tech and normal options are spectacular, with a 20.3cm touchscreen infotainment system providing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; there’s a digital instrument cluster, dual-zone local weather management, very funky ambient lighting, rear parking sensors, six airbags, ESP and attractive 18-inch alloy wheels.
The up-specced Shine is tres stylish with its panoramic glass roof and partial leather-based seat trim. There’s keyless entry and begin, wi-fi telephone charging, Lively Metropolis Brake, Blind Spot Monitoring, entrance parking sensors and one in all my all-time favourites, a reverse digital camera.
If anybody’s acquired a spare DS mendacity round, please drop me a message.
C3 1.2 Really feel – R239,900
C3 1.2T Shine – R289,900
C3 Aircross Really feel – R339,900
C3 Aircross Shine – R359,900
C5 Aircross Really feel – R469,900
C5 Aircross Shine – R509,000
All Citroën fashions are offered with a five-year/100,000km service plan and guarantee. DM
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