An unconventional design process for a car different from any other on the market. We trace the path of the Pluriel project with Donato Coco, the Chief Designer responsible for Citroën’s Platform A.

In October 1998, Citroën presented its C3 Lumière research prototype, a preview of the C3 production model, in Paris. Actually they had two concept cars ready for the Mondial, though the second, the C3 Air roadster version, was never to emerge from the Citroën Centre de Création in Vélizy.

The C3 Lumière won plaudits from critics and public, but the designers are still disappointed that they were never allowed to show off their soft-top version.

Still, disappointments can sometimes turn into great opportunities. “We talked to our product people about where to go next”, reports Coco. “The results of a clinic test suggested that we had a very attractive concept on our hands, but we needed to develop a roof structure that would be both user-friendly and industrially feasible”.

So, the Coco team got down to work on the technical development required and came up with the Pluriel “demonstrator”, an asymmetrical styling model that the management decided to present at the Frankfurt Show in September 1999.

It proved to be a triumph and from then on it was “all systems go”. The team spent the last quarter of 1999 creating a new styling model adapted to the A floorpan, on which the C3 saloon was being developed simultaneously. Next, in early 2000, the design was handed over to Italdesign for engineering, an operation supervised by Coco in person. And 18 months later, the definitive Pluriel was ready to make its debut at the 2002 Paris Show.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 141

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