Following a two-year “hibernation” Citroen is relaunching with a renewed focus on SUVs and “little house” dealerships designed to play up the boutique model range.

But the car brand that has been on sale in Australia continuously longer than any other has no plans to compete with the big boys, instead content on a “small but impactful model lineup”.

Citroen Australia managing director Ben Farlow says the focus will swing to design and “being beautiful”, ahead of innovation that was once the foundation of the French car maker.

“It’s time to celebrate our distinctive beauty”.

Under the stewardship of importer Inchcape – which also looks after Subaru in Australia – Citroen hopes to grow its sales in a measured way, in turn leveraging the passion for the French brand that goes back to classics such as the 2CV and DS.

Rather than rebadged Mitsubishis sourced from Japan, the new breed of Citroen SUVs are the real deal, starting with the $32,990+ORC C3 Aircross that goes on sale this week – local first drive review online Friday.

In June the larger C5 Aircross is due, priced from $39,990 and tackling the cream of the mid-sized SUV crop, including the Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail and Honda CR-V.

One thing the Aircross variants don’t have is all-wheel drive, instead driving just the front wheels. But Farlow doesn’t see that as a major issue.

“We will build our product offering around what they demand.

“We will rebuild this brand as non-conformist, inspired by our customers, truly experimental and innovative in the ways that we attract new customers.”

Some models will succumb to the SUV onslaught, though. Citroen has already dropped the C4 Picasso – a mid-sized people mover – and Farlow says the C4 Cactus and Berlingo are also under review.

Farlow believes reigniting the interest in Citroen will be easy given the passion that once existed for the brand. While attracting younger buyers is crucial, he nominates older buyers as a key target.

“We attract a very particular type of customer, they’ve done their research, value ride comfort, specification, and at their core have become brand loyalists.”

He says by doing things differently there is the ability to attract buyers outside the mainstream brands.

“Our movement through innovative approaches will soon begin to grab that underground movement.”


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About Author

Toby Hagon

From Porsches to LandCruisers, Toby Hagon loves all things cars and has been writing about them for more than 20 years. He loves the passion and people that help create one of the world's most innovative and interesting industries. As well as road testing and chasing news he more recently co-authored a book on Holden. These days he crosses the world covering the industry but still loves taking off on the Big Trip in Australia.

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