French limousines have always been a bit quirky. You bought a Peugeot 607 or Citroën C6 not only for the status, but because you would like to drive it. The French limousine has remained a comfortable travel companion for the past several decades. While Peugeot and Citroen compete with other brands in the compact car market, the top class simply continued to pursue their own course. As a result, the French limousine never represented the lion’s share of the executive car park, but remained an ambassador for the driver who does not always swim upstream. And besides: style does not scream.
In this article we have brought together old and new limousines for a top level rendezvous.
The Peugeot 604 was introduced at the Geneva Salon in 1975. Automobiles Peugeot presents the car as the “most elegant French top model” and speaks of “a successful mixture of classicism and refinement”. The Peugeot 604 therefore had to embody the symbol of a certain quality of life with a stately appearance. That has remained the case with the types that followed the 604.
The 604 was equipped with a 136 horsepower alloy 2.664cc V6 petrol engine with single or double carburettor when it was introduced. Actually, this voiture should have got a V8, but the situation surrounding the oil crisis did not allow this at the time.
The Citroën CX appeared on the market a year earlier, in 1974. The CX succeeded the ID / DS and once again featured Citroën’s unique hydropneumatic suspension. Inspired by the design of Pininfarina’s BMC 1800, designer Robert Opron designed an aerodynamic hatchback with a smooth side, sloping hood and large rear window. He added some special features, such as a hollow rear window, headlights in a shape that no one had ever imagined, semi-covered rear wheels, the DIRAVI power steering like on the Citroën SM, and a gigantic windshield kept clean by just one wiper .
The interior was also special with the so-called “lunule” on the dashboard: an ergonomically handy, special collection of speedometer, tachometer and indicator. The speed was represented by numbers that ran in front of a window. Many car enthusiasts appealed to the imagination.
The 607 has conquered its position in the top class better than its predecessors. In this segment – dominated by well-known major brands – the 607 is arguably Peugeot’s most successful limousine ever. The 607 is a long, elegant and stately sedan, with smooth, self-confident lines. It is pleasant to stay in the luxurious and beautifully designed interior. It is therefore a car that shows itself on the road more than its predecessors.
C6: rétro future
Citroën traditionally knows all the spotlight on itself when a new limousine is introduced. This was the case with the CX, and the same with the C6. Recognizable is the progressive interplay of the exterior, combined with the design of the interior. For example, the Citroën has succeeded in making the hearts of many a car enthusiast beat faster with timeless style elements (exterior with references to the CX) and technical ingenuity. Whether the C6 is as groundbreaking as the DS or the CX were during their introduction is doubtful. “Retro future” is the feeling that this car evokes with us.
It is nice to see that for many years PSA Peugeot Citroën used the opportunity to serve multiple potential customer groups at the same time. In the mid-1970s, the Peugeot 604 was mainly for the down-to-earth customer, while the Citroën CX played strongly on the feeling.
Not much had changed more than 10 years ago. The 607 still fulfills the role of stately saloon with surefire features. In addition, Citroën may put yet another challenging creation on the road that will stretch necks. As is tradition with a real Citroën, the C6 is different, quirky and headstrong. The car is not revolutionary: the C6 does not offer futuristic technology or groundbreaking design that is still innovative over a long time. PSA Peugeot Citroën dared not go that far anymore. But a little is still allowed.
With the CX that was a different story. Not only the design was innovative, the interior was also a true experience. All kinds of buttons for light and direction had to be pressed and there was no control lever on the steering column. There are similarities with the C6, approximately. The cylinder odometer behind jam jar glass on the CX was reminiscent of the altimeter in an airplane. The C6 has a head-up display where information about speed and the like is projected onto the windshield. The storage compartment in the doors is also recognizable. With the Peugeots 604 and 607 less similar style elements can be found. Yet Peugeot limousines radiate the same calm in the interior.