Though none of these entries are planned for sale in the North American market, each brought something interesting to the show this year. Renault looks to refine a new approach to the luxury segment, as conservative as the Avantime was not, and Citroen and Peugeot explore alternative powertrains in large luxury coupe-looking sedans.
Renault is not expected to build this two-door, four-seat vehicle, though its headlights and grille could appear on future Renaults. Also of interest is the powertrain, a 3.5L twin-turbo V6 delivering 420HP through a seven-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is an evolution of Nissan’s VQ engine family and it is likely that a seven-speed automatic will find its way into Nissan and Renault model lines sooner rather than later.
Definitely one of the best-looking products in all four Paris show halls, the 908RC previews the styling direction for the next iteration of Peugeot flagship, 608. As with Nepta, there’s something interesting about the powertrain. In this case, the 700HP 5.5L V12 diesel is due to be used in Peugeot’s next Le Mans attempt. If Audi can do it, why can’t Peugeot?
Aside from the terrifically deep red paint, which looked far better in person than in photos, this concept felt overdone. Instead of predicting Citroen styling, however, the star is under the hood. Citroen is looking to have a diesel-hybrid in their range in 2010, and the C-Metisse (and Metisse means hybrid in French, by the way) sported a 208HP 3.0L V6 diesel with electric motors supporting it. The motors were at the rear wheels, and good for 20HP each.
The C-Airlounge five-door hatchback concept indicates the direction of the long-awaited C6. It also indicates that Citroen may launch a bodystyle to compete against the new-for-2004MY Opel/Vauxhall Signum. The interior features an ingenious modular seating system for maximum use of space, as well as a new approach to interior lighting systems.
We may be seeing more of these types of vehicles in the future, depending on what the market makes of these vehicles. First to market, of course, was the recently introduced (and sales challenged) Chrysler Pacifica. The Mercedes-Benz R-Class is coming within the next couple of years, and while we won’t ever see the C6 in North America, the Europe-only Opel Signum is sort of a guinea pig for this concept in the European market.
The C-Airlounge prioritizes interior space and therefore features a tall roof that allows a higher seating position for all passengers. Still, the car manages to look sleek and fast. Perhaps the somewhat stiff A-pillars help prevent it from looking too much like a minivan.
The interior is indeed roomy, and features individual seats for all five passengers. The center rear seat can be folded down into the floor, providing maximum comfort for two rear seat passengers. Also of note is the unique mood lighting system – it’s too complicated to be described here, but it really must be seen to be believed. The system can change the car’s interior color scheme instantly.
The production version of this car, the C6, is due to make it to market by fall 2005. When it arrives, the C6 will be larger than the long departed XM, positioned further away from the C-segment Xantia, and based on the PF3 upper-medium platform also used by the C5. The next-generation Peugeot 406 (2004MY) and 607 (2007MY) will also use the front-wheel-drive, transverse-engine platform.