“Every car should be surprising”. To describe the inception of the latest product of Citroën’s Centre de Création, design director Jean Pierre Ploué starts from the very beginning of the project, leaving the car itself – hidden under a sheet in the middle of the great presentation room – until last. The sheet will only be lifted after he and Carlo Bonzanigo, director of design cooperation for Citroën and head of the project, have taken us through the concepts, brand values and choices that led to the definition of the car which, for the time being, they call A58.
“At the base of it all is the concept of style”, continues Ploué with typical enthusiasm. “We wanted to create a very compact car that was more ‘volumic’ than a traditional MPV, something solid, simple and effective, with an adventurous streak.” The outline of the hidden car, which looks rather tall given its footprint, with a markedly upright glasshouse, seems to imply that these goals were achieved. What is clear is that this car does not have the typically oval silhouette of an MPV. Ploué confirms our impressions: “When we started the A58 project, we had already designed the five and seven seat versions of the C4 Picasso, and we didn’t want to just do a scaled down version of that car. We wanted to break the mould and create a different morphology.”
In the background, images of the initial concepts and research sketches play on the large screen on the wall, hinting at a two box shape, with a short, rounded bonnet and a full yet dynamic body.
There are also references to the history of the brand, such as the 2CV and DS, but only to emphasise the unique identity of each model. As Carlo Bonzanigo explains: “a recurring theme in Citroën cars is the pursuit of a very distinctive morphology, with a character that is clear and identifiable yet coherent with the concept of the vehicle. There is never a generic style applied wholesale across the range – each concept remains strong. The C2 and C3, for example, work on different levels: the C2 is younger, more urban and architectural, while the C3, with its rounded shapes, is friendlier and more conducive to sharing. No one, however, would ever say that either wasn’t a Citroën”.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 172