Citroën South Africa, which was established on January 1, 2010, heralded the return of the parent company to South Africa after more than 30 years as the local operation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PSA Peugeot Citroën in France.
Citroën had withdrawn from South Africa in 1980 due to political concerns. From 2004 to 2009 a limited range of Citroën products had been imported to SA and sold by Associated Motor Holdings.
In a difficult economic climate and in a period of changing automotive trends Citroën SA is using a new line of exciting and innovative products linked to top quality service and a new corporate identity to satisfy and even anticipate customer requirements.
The new company, with the enthusiastic backing of its parent in France, has launched a very comprehensive product range in an amazingly short period of time.
In 2010 the company launched three new models initially, being the C3 Picasso, C3 hatchback and C5 in 1,6 THP, 2-litre diesel and 3-litre petrol derivatives. The sporty DS3 hatch made its appearance in April, together with facelifts for the C1 and C4 model ranges.
The new C5 was a significant advance on its predecessor, offering exceptional performance without comprising its legendary ride quality.
The new C3 also made a big impact with its pioneering Zenith panoramic windscreen and the zesty DS3 had immediate appeal to the younger set with its shark’s fin C-pillar and floating roof design. It went on to become a finalist in the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists’ Car of the Year competition.
“Renewing our model ranges and making them significantly better then than their predecessors is ambitious, but as customer mindsets shift from ‘wanting more’ to ‘wanting better’ we have introduced two approaches in terms of our vehicle design and development,” explained Frederic Chapuis, who was the Managing Director when Citroën SA was established.
“We see these two approaches as being ‘practical but unstinting on pleasure’ and ‘motoring pleasure the rational way.’”
2011 saw the introduction of new Citroën models onto the SA market continue apace with the C4 and DS4, arriving as well as the announcement that the ultra-sporty DS3 Racing was bound for our shores too. The total build of the high performance model will total only 2 000 units, with only 10 allocated to South Africa at R399 900 each.
The current year has also seen Citroën return to the local light commercial vehicle market with three van models, the Berlingo, Dispatch and Relay.
The previous generation Berlingo panel van was marketed in SA between 2003 and 2009 but the latest model is all new and based on the platform of the C4 Picasso. It is offered in two body lengths which can carry loads of up to 850kg.
The medium-sized Dispatch panel van slots in between the New Berlingo and the Relay. It can carry a load of up to 1 200kg and 2,6m in length. The Relay comes in two wheelbases and three overall lengths to cater for a variety of commercial requirements. The Relay can handle loads of up to 1 850kg with a cavernous cargo space.
The next launch will be the DS5, which will be previewed at the 2011 Johannesburg International Motor Show, for introduction in 2012. This is the third model in the DS premium car line and was unveiled for the first time at the Shanghai Auto Show earlier in the year. It made a big impression at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show and is sure to draw plenty of attention at its preview in Johannesburg.
It has an interesting and very eye-catching exterior design, combining a crossover, a wagon, a sedan and an MPV. It is also being offered With a Hybrid4 power train in addition to conventional petrol and diesel engines.
The hybrid uses a combination of a 2-litre diesel engine driving the front wheels and an electric motor providing the motive power to the rear wheels, which results in a new all-wheel drive system paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
This latest DS model shows how the niche brand has risen to the challenge of being different with three variants launched in two years and recognised premium positioning for all of them.
“We are very proud of our achievement in not only launching a comprehensive range of passenger cars and light to medium commercial vehicles, but also establishing a countrywide dealer network, all in the space of less than two years,” said recently-appointed managing director Didier Gerard.
“Designed to meet the needs of consumers and professionals alike, the Citroën range in South Africa now extends from the fuel-sipping C1 through to the C5 luxury car, while the DS line already includes the DS3, DS3 Racing, DS4 and will soon grow further when the DS5 arrives in 2012.”
The Citroën management team is also justifiably proud of the way it has improved the parts and service back-up operations to provide better quality service to the customers. This programme includes strengthening the offerings in terms of warranties and service and maintenance contracts as well as focused attention on dealer development.
Citroën SA is certainly not a company prepared to sit and wait for things to happen. It is driven by enthusiasm and an innovative and growing product range that is sure to bear fruit in the form of increasing sales and a growing share of the highly competitive SA market.