When project manager Mark Lloyd told us the Citroen Cactus Concept we spoke with him about was “90 percent reality” during our video interview in Frankfurt last year, he wasn’t lying. The production C4 Cactus made its debut on February 5th, the birthdate of the company’s founder, Andre Citroen, and it is nearly identical to its show car precursor.
Last week’s date also commemorates the fifth anniversary since the launch of the DS sub-brand and the company’s ‘Creative Technology’ signature. But while the DS-line has succeeded in elevating Citroen’s perception in the eyes of the consumer — particularly in emerging markets – and communicating luxury from a French perspective, it also cast a shadow over the rest of the range. The company is now keen to reinvigorate its portfolio through the C-line of vehicles.
“We’ve concentrated on what really brings value to the consumer and leave the rest behind,” says Pierre Monferrini PSA’s project development manager responsible for Citroen’s C-line of vehicles. “More design, more technology more efficiency. Leave the ‘always more’ for the ‘always better’.”
Throughout the years, Citroen has responded to the changing needs of the consumer. The 5HP (aka Type C), Traction Avant, 2CV and the seminal DS all showcased the company’s ability to innovate, and stand apart in a sea of competitive products. This is crucial for the brand.
“We’re coming back to fundamentals and the true essence of our brand,” says Citroen design director Alexandre Malval. “These qualities and ingredients enable us to offer unedited, original vehicles, cars that are distinguishable, unique in the marketplace, which is what we are striving for.”
“We will do this on all Citroen models,” adds Malval. “From the smallest to the largest, from the city car to the SUV, each car will have its own unique identity but will stay homogenous as a whole, born from the same family. Our approach is a global one – our objective is to create a brand that responds to the current market and consumers needs.”
The C4 Cactus is therefore a manifesto for the future of Citroen, a template that seeks to answer the following questions: Do cars need to look the same? Why do they need so much power? Can the customer pay less and have more?
Innovation is key. Today’s economic crisis and customers’ ecological awareness and heightened design sensibility have changed the way we perceive the world. Led in large part by technology and brands like Apple, Samsung and Nespresso, the modern-day customer is more connected and versatile. They want design, simplicity of use and immediacy — they want more services but at a good price; increased accessibility for a more serene and stress-free life.
The C4 Cactus answers this call while remaining faithful to the DNA, history and the brand signature through a refined, contemporary and minimalistic approach.