Speaking directly to CarAdvice, Citroen exterior design lead Frederic Duvernier (pictured top), said that apart from being bored with the design of most SUVs and cars in general, he feels that “fancy coupe stuff” - such as the BMW X4 and X6, new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe and freshly unveiled Tesla Model X - is inherently dangerous in its design.
“Maybe today, I’m sorry to say so, but there’s lots of copy cats,” Duvernier said.
“These copy cats, they’re really… They bore me, really. And our job is made to just have fun creating something new, but I think if it’s new for the sake of being new, it’s not going anywhere. If it’s new for the sake of good function, comfort, visibility – if you really understand the people’s needs – I think then it’s a good answer.
“There’s lots of SUVs you can’t [see out the back of] because of this fancy coupe stuff for example. Okay, but what’s the point? You can’t put stuff in your trunk and you can’t see outside, so, they’re dangerous cars basically.
“So I would ask myself, ‘Am I doing a dangerous car?’, and if it is the case, I would have my conscience to say to me, ‘No, that’s not good’. It may be fashionable but I think it’s wrong.”
“A small kid can draw this car [the Cactus] after only seeing it once and if we achieve this goal – like maybe iconic cars in the past – we will have a stronger design on our cars and a stronger brand in the future.
“I always ask myself, for example, if my parents would drive this car or not. If they would be saying, ‘Oh your car is beautiful but I can’t choose it, it’s not practical or anything’.
“At Citroen, we are a mainstream carmaker, we will not do Lamborghinis and these kinds of things – it’s not the goal. But if we really address to people, to their needs, then we are in the right I think.”
Asked if the black plastic wheel arch cladding – which has become a mainstay of modern ‘rugged’ SUVs of varying sizes – seen on both the Cactus and Aircross concept must too fall into his own category of ‘boring’ design, Duvernier concedes the point.
“Yes, that’s true but it’s made for a reason. Honestly. Because there are some SUVs that don’t have any black protection – I won’t name the German brands but there are some – and if you just go on a small rocky area you will damage your body. So it is made to protect the body and it’s a really useful thing to have.”
Duvernier also confirmed the brand’s upcoming key mid-size SUV is “two years away – max”. A model that Citroen CEO Linda Jackson last week told CarAdvice was something she'd like to see as part of the brand's revised seven-car model line-up, the new SUV is expected to take much influence from the Aircross concept.
For now, Duvernier says working out what’s most important in a car will be the key to the brand’s future success.
“We have to ask ourselves on every area, ‘Do we need that or not?’. And if we need it, we put it [in], if we don’t, we erase it.
“I think if we do things right then our brand and our cars to come will be better.”
CarAdvice was in France to sample the two drivelines already confirmed for the local-specification Citroen C4 Cactus, ahead of the small SUV’s early 2016 Australian launch.
Stay tuned for that review.