The Citroën C6 is the last of the historic ‘big Citroëns’ that started with the 1955 DS. It was produced from 2005 to 2012. The deign was inspired by the C6 Lignage concept car shown at the Geneva Motor Show in the spring of 1999. It replaced the ageing XM that first sold in 1989.
It was appreciated not only for its styling and comfort but also for an elusive quality that Car magazine, in its 2007 long-term road test, called “waftability.”
The C6 was powered by either a 3.0-litre V6 producing 208 bhp or a 2.7-litre V6 diesel producing 201 bhp. In October 2006 a 2.2-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel with 168 bhp was added to the range. In June 2009, the V6 diesel grew to 3.0 litres.
The C6 looks like a hatchback but was in fact a classic saloon with a conventional boot. Less conventional was its concave rear window.
The car was full of innovative technology that included a head-up display, a lane departure warning system, xenon directional headlamps, Hydractive 3+ suspension with electronically controlled springing and damping, and a rear spoiler which automatically adjusted to speed and braking. It was the first car to obtain four stars in the pedestrian test rating of EuroNCAP, made possible by its pop-up bonnet, rising by 65 mm using a pyrotechnic mechanism if a person/animal was hit, thus increasing the gap between the deformable bonnet, and the non-deformable engine components below.
On an episode of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson tested the C6’s Hydractive suspension by mounting a camera on it and driving it on the infield of Towcester Racecourse while filming a horse race. Despite the bumps and potholes on the infield, the C6 managed to provide a comfortable ride and stable video coverage of the race while moving at 37 mph. A BMW 5 Series failed to keep its camera upright.
The C6 naturally entered the fleet of the Élysée Palace and was used by several presidents and former French presidents, including Sarkozy and Chirac. But its sales were disappointing: planned to achieve 20,000 sales per year, total production over its lifespan was a mere 23,400.