Citroen DS ID19

Going nowhere in a Citroen DS: a lockdown car review

Citroen ID19Nobody talks to their neighbours in London, right? They do if you park a Citroen DS outside your house. This classic did more for community cohesion than a communal clapping session.

The key word here is ‘park’, because the Citroen didn’t move. Back in 2016, it silently taunted me for two days, then was removed on a low-loader. 

Stuck in COVID-19 lockdown, those feelings have flooded back. Once again, I’m at home, gazing wistfully through my window at a static car. Granted, my 2005 Golf is no DS – the neighbours have so far declined to comment on it – but I’m still revved up with nowhere to go.

Show me some IDCitroen ID19

A bit of background first. The 1961 DS you see here is actually an ID19: a cheaper, less powerful and (slightly) less complicated version of the DS19. Used for ‘press and publicity purposes’ when new by Citroen UK, it has since returned to the company’s care as part of the heritage fleet.

As the most iconic and beautiful French car ever made (discuss), the DS seemed ideal for the Retro Road Test: the weekly classic car review we used to publish every Thursday. With everything crossed, I called the ever-helpful Craig at Citroen and, just a few weeks later, the DS was delivered.

Street art in suburbiaCitroen ID19

“Lovely, just lovely,” said the man from the corner house who’d asked me to sign a petition about bin collections. “That’s my kind of car,” cooed the lady who runs the pub across the road. “Looks like it’s been lowered,” mumbled the 16-year-old lad from next door.

In recent memory, the only car that comes close for sheer street spectacle was a purple Lamborghini Aventador SVJ I tested earlier this year. But while the Lambo got envious looks and grudging remarks about “winning the lottery”, the DS drew nods, smiles and genuine affection.

Wildly futuristic yet timelessly elegant, it literally stopped traffic as drivers slowed to stare and take photos. It was probably trending on social media, for all I know. One can only marvel at how this car, with its spaceship styling, must have looked in 1955.

Feeling a bit flatCitroen ID19

The DS arrived late on a Monday afternoon, but I resisted the urge to jump straight in and cruise the streets of Croydon. I’d set my alarm early for a long, cross-country jaunt the next morning.

With 67hp and 0-62mph in 22.1 seconds, progress would be as relaxed – and as pleasurable – as a Beaujolais-fuelled Sunday lunch.

Tuesday dawned bright and fresh, the DS draped in morning dew. I sank into the soft leather seat, grasped the Bakelite wheel and twisted the key… Silence. I tried again: the dials on the (UK-specific) English walnut dashboard sprang to life and I heard the faint click of a solenoid, but nothing more.

I called Craig, expecting – hoping – there was some Gallic quirk of the starting process that I’d overlooked. “No, just put her in neutral and turn the key.” Hmm.

The battery voltage gauge showed a full charge, but I decided to attempt a jump-start using my old Ford Focus. Still nothing. Admitting defeat, I telephoned Craig again to request a recovery truck. The dream was over.

Doing the plankCitroen ID19

The nightmare, however, was just beginning. As any student of old Citroens knows, hydropneumatic suspension only pressurises and rises up when the car’s engine starts. Without power, the DS is effectively ‘slammed’. This would prove problematic.

Danny arrived with his low-loader on Wednesday lunchtime. He was sceptical about our chances: with no towing eye on the front, the DS would need to be winched up the ramp backwards. And the downturned tips of its exhaust were virtually kissing the tarmac.

Inching the DS back, it quickly became clear this stubborn lady wasn’t for towing. So, in a further boost to neighbourly relations, I knocked on the door of John the roofer, returning a few minutes later with some scaffolding planks.

Danny and I wedged them under the wheels, reducing the angle of approach. And slowly, steadily, with millimetres to spare, it edged up the ramp and onto the truck. We’d done it.

In the presence of Goddess Citroen ID19

The DS had been sent to Coventry (literally, not figuratively – that’s where Citroen UK is based) and it hadn’t even turned a wheel. But as I watched this magnificent car being carried away, a princess in a sedan chair, I felt surprisingly buoyant.

A few awkward moments with planks aside, my two days with the DS had been an absolute pleasure. I’d gazed longingly at it from my bedroom window – and met friendly, enthusiastic people every time I went outside and, well, tried to start it.

In 15 years of writing about cars, this was the only one I’ve returned one without driving it. C’est la vie.

As the current crisis has taught us, you need to find pleasure and positivity where you can. And sometimes beauty is its own reward.Citroen ID19

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Save £7,000 on a new Citroen – if you live in London

£7,000 off a Citroen

Citroen has introduced a new ‘swappage’ scheme, effective for the remainder of 2019, which allows up to £5,000 off a new low-emissions car when you trade a car in. And buyers in London could save up to £7,000.

To be eligible, your trade-in car or van must be registered before January 1 2013. It also has to have been in your ownership for more than 90 days.

The most efficient versions of the C3 Aircross, C5 Aircross and C4 Cactus are included in the Citroen offer. 

£7,000 off a Citroen

In addition to the £5,000 from Citroen, London’s ULEZ scrappage scheme offers low-income and disabled motorists £2,000 to swap their Euro 4 (2005 or older) petrol car, or Euro 5 (September 2015 or older) diesel. Do so at a Citroen dealer, for the right model, and you’ll save £7,000 off your purchase.

Citroen has partnered with Cartakeback to dispose of and recycle cars that are traded in. If the car is to be scrapped, it can be removed from the owner’s home, workplace or local Citroen dealer.

£7,000 off a Citroen

“We are delighted to be able to introduce our new Citroen swappage scheme for the remainder of 2019,” said Eurig Druce, Citroen UK sales director.

“With a range of award-winning products available, including our new C5 Aircross SUV, now is a great time to upgrade an existing older vehicle, to a newer, safer and cleaner Citroen model.”

Citroen keeps old cars going for charity

Citroen keeps old cars going for charity

Citroen is doing its bit for charity by keeping some of its older models on the road.

To celebrate its centenary, Citroen has been offering free repairs, servicing and MOTs to charities that rely on its cars to deliver a service. This isn’t about supplying new cars – this is about maintaining Citroens of old.

For example, the Wisbech-based charity 50 Backpacks relies on a trusty Citroen C3 Desire to deliver 30 to 40 meals to the homeless community every week. Local dealer Desira Citroen in Bury St. Edmunds has serviced and repaired the 03-registered car for free.

Sarah Thomas, co-founder of 50 Backpacks, said: “We are so grateful for the work carried out by Citroen. Without our C3 Desire we would never be able to transport all the supplies and food to the cafe and back.

50 Backpacks Citroen C3

“Our car is really part of the team and now it’s back to full health we can continue to provide help to the homeless of Wisbech.”

Meanwhile, Robins & Day of Redditch has been helping to keep an ageing Citroen Berlingo Multispace on the road. Indigo Arts uses the vehicle to transport equipment in their quest to make art accessible to everyone, regardless of their background.

Cathy Moss, Indigo Arts co-founder, said: “I’ve always been a fan of Citroen and we really love our Berlingo Multispace, so when Citroen offered us all these repairs for free we jumped at the chance.

”The work we do at Indigo Arts wouldn’t be possible without our trusty vehicle to transport the sound and lighting equipment to all the various events and performances, so thank you!”

Charity Citroen Berlingo Multispace

Souad Wrixen, Citroen UK’s marketing director, added: “It’s such a pleasure to give something back to these great charities that do so much in their communities.

”Citroen has been inspired by the lives of its customers for 100 years and it’s great to see the positive impact the dependability of our vehicles can have on these inspirational organisations, even after so many years.”

Citroen has arranged a number of activities to celebrate its centenary, including the launch of Origins special edition vehicles. The cars come with bespoke cosmetic upgrades, including special Origins badges.

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

Citroen Berlingo Van vs WRC rally star

Citroen Berlingo van WRC specialThe Citroen Berlingo van is virtually a brand in its own right. Frequently Britain’s best-selling light commercial vehicle, it has built a reputation since 1996 for toughness, flexibility and dependability.

So when Citroen World Rally Championship star Esapekka Lappi visited Britain, an idea was hatched. They could have let him do demonstration runs in a road-going version of the C3 supermini he spectacularly drives in the WRC. Fun, but maybe a bit ho-hum. 

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

Instead, brilliantly, a new Citroen Berlingo van was given a rally-spec engineering makeover. A rally training school was hired for the day, and Lappi was let loose towork his magic. Even better, I was lucky enough to hitch a ride.

The idea was to show off how robust the Berlingo is. Citroen UK dubbed it a ‘stress test’, and it’ll be interesting to know if a day’s thrashing by one of rallying’s hottest young talents now becomes an official part of the development sign-off process.

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

Citroen had an extra ace to justify the day: a Berlingo ‘Worker’ version was chosen. This has 30 mm more ground clearance than the regular van, more underbody protection, hill descent control, Grip Control (which magics up extra traction from the front wheels via electronics) plus beefier mud and snow tyres.

It’s more WRC-spec than any road-going C3, particularly with the installation of a regular ‘bar’ handbrake instead of the standard Berlingo’s electronic parking brake. Add on a WRC-style livery (“we weren’t allowed to use Red Bull branding, so we went with our centenary logo instead”) and it was all set for an unlikely afternoon of driving.

Rallying a Citroen Berlingo Van

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

It was my turn first. Cool as a cucumber, Esapekka cheerily told me to do whatever I wanted, go as fast as I liked. Racing drivers can be super-cautious when being driven by people they’ve never met: rally drivers are a different breed. As I fired up the stock HDi diesel engine, he sat back and relaxed, as if we were driving to the first job of the day.

All that was missing was a copy of The Sun on the dashboard for him to read.

I won’t bore you with what I drove like, because I was rubbish. I understand circuit racing, but I really can’t get my head around rallying. There’s no grip, the vehicle must always be dancing, usually sliding, and the way you have to use Scandinavian flicks is a bit like playing snooker. I was bamboozled.

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

The van, amazingly, felt great. Loads of suspension travel made light work of the lumpy rally-spec surface and even though I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, it was still fun to slide around. But I knew I only had a limited time with Esapekka, so I pulled up early. Time to swap, and show me how it should be done.

Citroen Berlingo Van WRC

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

I quickly got it barely 10 seconds later, as we scrabbled away in a gravelly, clattery rush, hurtled towards the first corner and, unlike me, he didn’t brake and totter round but instead pitched sideways and drifted through it at barely-abated speed with the most ludicrous cloud of dust left in our wake. This is how you rally a Berlingo van.

At least with circuit driving, you can work out braking points and likely speeds through corners. Sitting alongside a rally driver, even in a van, is the most random experience because it all seems so confidently improvised and beyond-comprehension fast. This was a sun-baked gravel course whose surface you could do skids on in your shoes. There’s no way a standard road-going diesel van should be going this quickly.

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

But Esapekka was on it, working at the wheel in a blur, making it do the most graceful things through bends probably three times faster than I’d taken them. Absolutely glorious is the only way to describe it – genuinely more fun and thrilling than many a supercar blast around a racetrack.

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

We eventually had to stop because there was so much dust, we couldn’t see where to go. I had no idea a Berlingo van could do what I’d just been shown, and certainly no clue it could seemingly take such treatment in its stride. The man who winces when he hits a pothole had just experienced a van being monstered by a WRC driver, and it was still ready for more.

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

Indeed, once the dust had settled, it was out again, so I could marvel at the 25-metre drifts and, as it disappeared back into the dust, growl of a hard-worked diesel engine and sounds of tyres battering gravel indicating Esapekka wasn’t letting up.

“It has a long heritage and is very well known in the light van sector,” Citroen’s CV boss told me later. “We had the chance to work with Esapekka so we thought we’d do something a bit different, to add to the Berlingo van brand story.”

Quite brilliant, Citroen. Even Esapekka seemed surprised. “I’m actually impressed with how much fun it is to drive – it corners well and it’s very strong.”

Rally drivers really are a different breed, and will drive anything spectacularly. That a future WRC champ has given such kudos to the Berlingo van is surely now worth a point or two on the building site or delivery yard.

Revealed: the number of speed bumps in the UK

Speed bumps in the UK

A freedom of information request (FOI) by Citroen has revealed exactly how many speed bumps and associated traffic calming measures there are in the UK.

The number of speed bumps has risen to 42,000, which is a new high following their controversial introduction in 1983. Speed bumps have seen a five percent increase in investment since 2015, hence the large figure.

Via its FOI request, which was sent to more than 400 counties, Citroen also discovered that there are a further 12,000 other traffic calming measures in place. These include speed tables, ramps and width restrictions. Councils have had the power to install such calming measures since 1999.

Where are the most speed bumps?

Speed bumps in the UK

It will come as no surprise to discover that London is the speed bump capital of Britain. On the basis of speed bumps per mile of road, eight of the top 10 councils are in London. Outside of London, Norwich and Portsmouth lead, with a respective 17 and 13 percent of roads featuring traffic calming measures.

Where did speed bumps come from?

They first appeared in the UK in 1983 under the Highways (Road Humps) Regulations. Their origins go back to early-1900s New Jersey in the USA.

Road deaths, including pedestrians and non-motorised vehicle users, have fallen 80 percent in the UK since the last peak in 1941. Traffic calming measures, including speed bumps, are one of the key developments credited with this drop.

Why would Citroen be interested in speed bumps? It’s all to do with promoting the comfort of its vehicles equipped with its hydraulic cushion suspension. To a similar end, it filled in 200 potholes last year to “provide road users in Surrey a glimpse into what life with a new C5 Aircross SUV or C4 Cactus with suspension would be like”.

Speed bumps in the UK

“At Citroen, we are committed to providing our customers with the best journey experience possible no matter what the road surface,” said Souad Wrixen, Citroen UK’s marketing director.

“Speed bumps and other traffic calming measures have their place on UK roads helping to improve road safety and reduce fatalities.

“So, when approached at the correct speed and with care, our Citroen Advanced Comfort programme will ensure that humps and speed tables can be navigated more comfortably, avoiding the sharp jolts often experienced by road users.”

Young drivers can get FREE insurance on a new Citroen C1

Free insurance offer on Citroen C1

Young drivers can take advantage of a free insurance offer when they buy a new Citroen C1 city car this summer.

A year’s free insurance is available to customers aged 18 and over if they order and register a brand new Citroen C1 between now and the end of September.

The offer is available on all but the entry-level Touch trim level and includes hatchback and ‘Airscape’ body styles. The recently launched ‘Origins’ Collector’s Edition – which celebrates 100 years of Citroen – is also eligible for free cover.

‘A helping hand’

Eurig Druce, Citroën UK’s sales director, said: “C1 is an extremely popular urban vehicle that’s packed with style, technology and safety equipment, including those all-important full-length curtain airbags.

Citroen C1 interior

“We’re delighted we can now make this attractive model even more desirable, with free insurance for retail customers from 18 years of age.

“This offer has been designed in particular to offer a helping hand to younger drivers, whose insurance costs are usually higher. By covering these costs we hope to get as many young drivers into a safer, brand new car that they can be proud of.”

A Citroen C1 Feel costs £11,900 and boasts a seven-inch touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. Some 65,000 C1s have been sold since the current generation was launched in 2014.

Manufacturers are ramping up their summer offers, with Vauxhall and Ford recently unveiling their new scrappage deals. Meanwhile, the Toyota Aygo X-Trend – which shares a platform with the Citroen C1 – is available with a £2,000 scrappage allowance.

Citroen voted best stand at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show


Citroen best stand Geneva 2019

Citroen had every reason to put on a good display at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, with the French brand celebrating its 100th anniversary. And champagne corks will be popping with the news that its stand has won the 2019 Creativity Award.

A jury of professionals from the Geneva Advertising and Communications Club decided that the ‘La Maison Citroen’ stand was the best in show, with the jury impressed by the way the brand recognised its past, present and future.

In 2018, Jeep won the award, while a year earlier, Bugatti’s small stand with just one car on display was good enough to impress the judges.

One Vision

Introducing the stand, Arnaud Belloni, Citroen’s senior vice president of global marketing communications, said: “As we’re celebrating our centenary year, we, of course, wanted to pay a tribute to our history and also give you the brand’s vision.

“It is, therefore, an extremely rational stand. We have two zones: a past/present and present/past zone, and a zone that represents the future with the Ami One Concept.

“In the present/past zone, of course, we have all the limited editions which pay tribute to the Citroen brand’s 100 years. On the second row, we’ve put the Type A, Traction and a 2CV, which is a nod to our present-day limited editions.

“In the middle, there’s a boutique, because we’re also here to do business.”

Citroen Ami One and 2CV

Belloni went on to describe the electric Ami One Concept, saying “it’s a concept car which, potentially, will not require a driving licence, so you’d be able to drive it as of the age of 14 in France or 16 in the rest of Europe.”

Earlier this year, Citroen launched a range of Origins limited edition cars, including C3 Origins and C4 Cactus Origins. These models pay homage to 100 years of Citroen, with bespoke badges, bronze highlights and other exterior and interior upgrades. These two models will be joined by Origins versions of the C1 and C3 Aircross later in the year.

The Citroen stand at Retromobile 2019 looks fantastique

Citroen at Retromobile 2019

Citroen’s stand at Retromobile 2019 was always going to be special, but as this 90-second video demonstrates, it promises to be the star attraction in Paris. 

From the Type A 10 HP of 1919, through to the C5 Aircross SUV of today, Citroen has assembled a group of 30 cars representing 100 years of innovation, creativity and eccentricity.

The vehicles are divided across three themes: production cars, concept cars and racing cars. You’ll need more than 90 seconds to take in the splendour of these magnificent machines.

There are famous vehicles, such as the Traction Avant, 2CV and DS 21 Pallas – three of the most significant cars of the 20th century. You’ll also find a Type H Van that’s not selling hot drinks or overpriced sandwiches – a rarity that’s not often seen in the wild.

Motorsport fans are catered for thanks to the likes of the Xsara Kit Car and ZX Rally-Raid, while concepts include the Camargue and GTbyCitroen. The 3D virtual tour also shows Ronnie Pickering’s choice of wheels, although the Picasso isn’t listed as one of the cars on show in Paris.

Alongside Citroen’s centenary stand, Retromobile will also celebrate 60 years of the Mini, 45 years of the PRV engine, and the 1950 BRM Type 15.

Doors open 6 February

The doors open on 6 February, but don’t worry if you can’t make it to Paris – our man Tim Pitt will be on hand to take photos of the best exhibits.

In the meantime, enjoy this tantalising glimpse at the Citroen stand.

Citroen marks 100 years with Origins special editions

Citroen C4 Cactus Origins

Citroen is paying homage to 100 years of ‘creativity and boldness‘ with help from a new range of Origins limited edition cars.

Sadly, this doesn’t mean we can look forward to a Citroen AX GT ‘restomod’, a CX for a new-generation or a modern-day 2CV – although we can dream. Instead, it’s a range of limited-run specials based on some of Citroen’s most popular models.

The first two vehicles in the UK are the C3 Origins and the C4 Cactus Origins. Later this year, Origins versions of the C1 and C3 Aircross will be available to order.

All feature bronze highlights and a nod to the original Citroen chevron logo.

The C3 Origins is available in a choice of Polar White, Cumulus Grey, Platinum Grey or Perla Black body colours, paired with a black roof and 17-inch black alloy wheels.

Citroen C3 Origins

A special Origins colour pack features bronze fog lights and Airbump panel surrounds, along with the Origins logo on the door mirrors and roof pillars. Inside, the C3 Origins features Heather Grey and black seat upholstery, and a soft-touch dashboard trim with a bronze surround.

The C3 Origins is available with a choice of two 1.2-litre engines – a PureTech 82 and PureTech 110 – with the latter equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. Prices range from £16,585 for the PureTech 82, to £19,005 for the PureTech 110.

The C4 Cactus Origins is largely the same as the C3 Origins, although Pearl White paint is also available, while Perla Nera is substituted for Obsidian Black. Only one powertrain is offered: a 1.2-litre PureTech 110 with a six-speed manual gearbox. The price is £20,215.

Citroen Origins logo

Customers can place orders now, with deliveries expected in March 2019. Origins versions of the C1 and C3 Aircross will be available to order in March for delivery in June.

2019 Citroen C5 Aircross

2019 Citroen C5 Aircross review: quirky crossover plays the comfort card

We drive petrol and diesel versions of the new Citroen C5 Aircross SUV. How does it stack up against the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson?