“Right from the start, the plan for the new C4 envisaged a car to outperform its class, an exceptional model in every way. For the styling, we focused on official brand values like quality, comfort and character”. That’s how Citroën’s Director of Design, Jean Pierre Ploué starts his report to Auto & Design.
When they were offered the chance to design a replacement for the honest but dull Xara with something truly original, the Citroën team immediately sought a look to match the package for the new model. Initially, the plan was to create a single silhouette for both the three and the five-door versions.
However, as Ploué explains, “the first design was so distinctive that we realised it wouldn’t suit the saloon. So we took a fortnight out to invent a new look for the 5-door, which involved redesigning the tail”.
From then on, design work proceeded at a pace Ploué unhesitatingly describes as “extraordinary”. Obviously, it cost a lot more to develop two completely different body designs. However, the engineers and designers showed the management that the two roofs were actually very similar and that there was a way to arrange the same body panels into two very different looks.
Most of the differences can be seen on the tail, whereas the distinctive design of the nose with its double row of parallel chrome bars that rise at the centre of the radiator grille to form Citroën’s classic double chevron, is shared by both versions.
Jean-Pierre Ploué and his designers are visibly delighted with their creation and with the way the Citroën management allowed them to achieve it. “With the C4 we have a tautly roofed three-door with a distinctive look and something of the Airdream prototype and the C2 about it. The five-door is more “convivial” along C3, Pluriel or Picasso lines”.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 149