Blog: Dave LeggettNew PSA design centre

Dave Leggett | 28 September 2004

I've been invited to the opening of a new PSA vehicle design facility in Versailles next week. It sounds like a worthwhile thing to go along to, but unfortunately I can't make it. Dominique Morgan at PSA mentioned it to me a while back - the new facility will house both Peugeot and Citroën designers and there should be a good opportunity to interview people there.

But I've just had a chat with Mark Bursa and it looks like he can go along for us. He's just back from a Dacia Logan - the Renault €5,000 car for emerging markets - drive event in Turkey which sounded extremely interesting (Renault seems to have overlooked inviting just-auto in spite of the fact that we have given that vehicle plenty of coverage due to its industrial significance. Ah, well...).

The interesting thing about PSA in design terms is the old issue of how far to take the two brands' industrial integration - shared platforms/engineering architecture - and the need to maintain brand differentiation, especially in design. Not so long ago, Citroëns were starting to look like Peugeots (eg Saxo, 106), but we seem to be moving a little in the opposite direction now. I'm sure that whole issue has been a controversial one at times within the PSA organisation. And what are the core values of these two mass-market brands? There's a question for the pub tonight.

It will be interesting to hear how the new facility addresses that central concern as well hear more about the design ethos of the company as a whole and how grouping all designers together is planned to work.

But I would agree that PSA and especially Citroën is doing some good things in design at the moment. The C4, for example, may be a little conventional looking but it has a lot more panache than the model it replaces. As Mr Bursa put it: think back to 1998. Ford gave us the groundbreaking Focus and at the same time Citroën brought out the uninspiring Xsara to replace the ZX. But which car looked better in Paris last week, Focus Two or C4? Focus Two may well be a good package, but it ain't exciting to look at.


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