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Citroen Launch in India: The History, the Cars, and What to Expect

Mark Sanyal NEWS Leave a Comment

India is proving to be an increasingly attractive market for global car manufacturers. Kia was the last to enter the market and it has garnered success with the Seltos, Sonet, and Carnival. The newest entrant is French manufacturer Citroen which will be entering India with the launch of the Citroen C5 Aircross premium SUV.

History of Citroen

For us in India, Citroen might be an unfamiliar name if you don’t follow the automotive industry. However, this French manufacturer is a household name in Europe known for making compact and innovative cars that are focused on delivering value. Citroen was established in 1919 by Andre Citroen who was keen on utilizing his manufacturing facility after the first World War to produce an affordable car for the masses.

Citroen Traction Avant

Citroen’s innovations began with the Traction Avant, a car that pioneered the unibody chassis as well as four wheel independent suspension and front wheel drive. This revolution in vehicular engineering is still in practice today with a majority of cars utilizing the technology. The Citroen Traction Avant proved to be popular in its 23 year production run where 760,000 units were produced.

Citroen 2CV

Following the end of the second World War, Citroen returned to producing innovative and iconic cars that were accessible to the masses. The French car maker’s version of a people’s car came in the form of the Citroen 2CV. This small four-door car was cheap to make and even cheaper to maintain, making it a French automotive hero. The 2CV’s popularity is marked by the 9 million units produced between 1948 and 1990.

Citroen DS

While the 2CV catered to the masses, Citroen brought a more luxurious car for those looking for a more upmarket car. The Citroen DS pioneered the hydropneumatic suspension that would become a defining feature for Citroen’s executive cars for the coming years. The DS introduced a radical design that was futuristic for its time while at the same time redefining the passenger experience inside. From 1955 to 1957, the DS sold 1.5 million units, while the DS and its successors combined sold 9 million units during their production run.

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Citroen today is known for making compact cars like the C3 hatchback, C4 premium hatchback, C3 Aircross compact SUV, and the C5 Aircross SUV. The French manufacturer is gradually moving towards electrifying its entire range of cars and introducing compelling electric cars for a greener future.

Citroen’s automobile innovations

The popularity of Citroen’s cars has been thanks to the underlying technical innovations that helped the French manufacturer differentiate its cars from the competition. A few of the most notable innovations by the French car maker have been widely adopted by other car manufacturers today, making Citroen a true pioneer in the industry.

Unibody chassis

The unibody chassis is a form of chassis construction where the entire body structure is fully integrated to provide a lighter and more rigid construction. Citroen debuted this technology in the Citroen Traction Avant and this technology is now employed in just about every car available worldwide.

Hydropneumatic suspension

Citroen’s comfortable and stable ride quality is credited to the hydropneumatic suspension. Unlike a spring suspension found on most cars, a hydropneumatic suspension uses compressed gas and liquid to absorb bumps to provide a comfortable ride. This suspension system features self-levelling to provide a constant ride height at all times.

Citroen Hydropneumatic suspension diagram

Aerodynamic design

The striking design of the Citroen DS is the first example of aerodynamics influencing car design. The use of aerodynamics on the DS provided the car stability at high speeds while providing better fuel efficiency for the driver. This philosophy is gaining traction again as car manufacturers look to make the most mileage from the least amount of fuel or electricity.

Popular Citroen cars today

Citroen C3 and C3 Aircross

Citroen C3

The Citroen C3 spearheaded Citroen’s new design language that is now incorporated on all Citroen cars today. The radical design of the C3 is at the front, where the split headlight design was introduced in the Citroen car lineup. The C3 Aircross is based on the C3 with a raised ground clearance and SUV-like styling elements.

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Citroen C3 Specifications

Engine

1.2-litre petrol

1.2-litre turbo petrol

1.6-litre diesel

Transmission

5-speed manual

6-speed manual

6-speed automatic

Power

83 PS (Petrol)

110 PS (Turbo Petrol)

100 PS (Diesel)

Torque

118 Nm (Petrol)

205 Nm (Turbo Petrol)

250 Nm (Diesel)

Boot Space

300 litres

Citroen C4

Citroen C4

The Citroen C4 continues the radical design language even further. The C4 is styled as a premium compact SUV with a more elaborate split headlamp design and a quirky notchback design on the rear. With a petrol, diesel and full electric powertrain options, the Citroen C4 has an extensive range for customers. The C4 is also equipped with Citroen’s hydraulic suspension for a comfortable and luxurious ride.

Citroen C4 Specifications

Engine

1.2-litre turbo petrol

1.2-litre turbo petrol

1.5-litre turbo diesel

100 kW electric motor

Transmission

8-speed automatic (Petrol & Diesel)

Power

130 PS (Turbo Petrol)

155 PS (Turbo Petrol)

130 PS (Diesel)

Torque

230 Nm (Turbo Petrol)

240 Nm (Turbo Petrol)

300 Nm (Turbo Diesel)

Boot Space

380 litres

Citroen C5 Aircross

Citroen C5 Aircross

The Citroen C5 Aircross is the French manufacturer’s SUV and will be the flagship car in India when the brand launches here. The C5 Aircross is designed as a comfortable and spacious SUV with its wide body giving it a commanding road presence. As a competitor to the Hyundai Creta and the Kia Seltos, the C5 Aircross’ comfortable ride quality and premium features will set it apart at launch.

Citroen C5 Aircross Specifications

Engine

1.2-litre turbo petrol

1.5-litre diesel

Transmission

6-speed manual (Diesel)

8-speed automatic (Petrol & Diesel)

Power

130 PS (Turbo Petrol)

130 PS (Diesel)

Torque

230 Nm (Turbo Petrol)

300 Nm (Turbo Diesel)

Boot Space

580 litres

What to expect from Citroen in India

Citroen is set to enter India at a time when SUVs are gaining immense popularity among people. Today, you can choose from a micro SUV (like the Renault Kwid), compact SUV (like the Kia Sonet), premium SUV (like the Hyundai Creta), or a full-size SUV (like the Toyota Fortuner). We are spoilt for choice and Citroen will spoil us even further.

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Comfortable SUVs

Citroen’s focus on a comfortable ride quality has become its defining USP. While Hyundai and Kia offers performance and the newest tech features, Citroen could give the Koreans a run for their money. With their pliant hydraulic suspension, Citroen cars could prove to be perfectly suited to tackling India’s notoriously bad roads with ease.

After the C5 Aircross, Citroen are perfectly positioned to launch the C3 Aircross to compete against the Hyundai Venue, Tata Nexon, and Kia Sonet compact SUVs. From there, we could see the C4 launched as capacity increases at Citroen’s plant in India or we could see a completely Made for India car from Citroen.

Peugeot maybe?

Citroen is part of the PSA Group which includes the Peugeot, Opel, and Vauxhall brands. So how does Citroen’s entry mean Peugeot could follow suit? To start with, Peugeot had flirted with an Indian entry in 2011 but those talks fell through.

Yellow Peugeot 208

While Citroen’s focus is on the SUV segment, Peugeot has more products in the hatchback and sedan segments. Cars like the 208 and 308 hatchbacks as well as the 508 sedan are positioned to compete against the premium hatchback and sedans in India. This, however, depends on Citroen’s success with the C5 Aircross fuelling the PSA Group’s expansion plans.

Can Citroen succeed in India?

India’s price sensitive market means Citroen, and the PSA Group will need to fine tune the price to deliver competitive value in India. We’ve already seen Kia do it and we can expect Citroen to do the same. Citroen cars have differentiating features to set them apart from the ever-crowding Indian market, but as we’ve seen time and again, the right price and the right features is always rewarded in India.

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