Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Citroen resurrects DS…as a premium brand


At next month’s Geneva show, Citroen will revive a name that was laid to rest on the high alter of motoring passion in 1976. The DS3 will be a small premium car with a market launch date some time in 2011. It will later be joined by the DS4 and DS5. I’m thinking these will be Audi A3, A4 and A6-sized respectively.

Although I’m a die-hard Citroen fan, the re-use of the DS moniker sends chills up my spine for all the wrong reasons.

Firstly, DS as a name has so many rich historical connotations surrounding space age design combined with convention-defying engineering. Citroen’s designers are going to have to pull three Technicolor rabbits out of the hat to impress anyone. The comparisons with the original DS will be inevitable and if the new trio aren’t as earth-shattering as the original, you can expect a lot of disappointed journos and Citroen fans. Hardly the reception you want at the re-launch of an icon.

Secondly, no matter how you look at it, Citroen has never been a manufacturer of “premium” cars. Extravagantly engineered (DS/CX/SM/XM) and sometimes eye-wateringly expensive (SM mainly) but not built to sufficiently high standards, big Cits have always been of marginal interest to the average premium buyer. You only need to look at the lovely C6 which costs £35,000 new but can now be had, 3 years old and with 30,000 miles for just over £10k to see why a private buyer would keep the hell away. Your heart might look longingly at a big Cit but your head will always tell you to stop being so idiotic and you go off and buy a BMW, Audi or Merc instead.

I could well be proved wrong, and I hope I am. Geneva will reveal just how creative Citroen’s designers are and how insane (-ly good) their marketing department is.

Category: Branding, Car, Design, Design Strategy, Things I like

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© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.