The XM cost a small fortune to develop and it never truly lived up to Citroën’s expectations in spite of its long production run. By the end of the 1990s, many media outlets were reporting that the flagship sedan would be deep-sixed without a true successor.
Citroën surprised the public and the media when it arrived at the 1999 edition of the Geneva Motor Show with a brand new concept called C6 Lignage. The sedan broke all visual ties with the XM by adopting a more rounded silhouette that was openly inspired by the CX. Its design was characterized by sharp headlights that stretched well into the front bumper, suicide doors, boomerang-shaped tail lamps and a concave rear window. It measured 193 inches (492 centimeters) long, 74 inches (189 centimeters) wide and 57 inches (144 centimeters) tall.
The cockpit featured a floating center console, the inexplicable presence of a tree branch between the seats, and the four-seater layout were the most over-the-top aspects of the interior.
The spec sheet read like a brochure for a brand new 2015 E-Class or 5 Series: The Lignage was equipped with a heads-up display, an adaptive suspension system, an electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise control, an infrared camera, a driver fatigue sensor, a voice recognition software and navigation. Precise technical details were never published, but Citroën explained the concept was designed to use direct-injected gasoline- and diesel-burning engines as well as a sequential transmission.
Citroën stressed the Lignage was simply a design study, but rumors that the XM wouldn’t be replaced turned out to be completely false; the C6 Lignage concept was toned down slightly and added to the Citroën lineup as the C6 in 2005. Many of the elegant-looking design cues found on the concept were transferred to the production car, and few could argue that it wasn’t a quantum leap forward over the XM.
C6 production peaked at about 7,600 examples in 2007, and it dropped almost exponentially right after that. Again, rumors circulating around the press claimed that the C6 would be Citroën’s last-ever flagship, that it wouldn’t be replaced because the automaker badly needed to cut costs. The difference was that this time the rumors were completely true.
A successor to the C6 will most likely be launched before the end of the decade but it will wear a DS emblem, not Citroën’s heritage-laced chevrons.
Note: an earlier version of the gallery above included a picture that showed a regular-production C6 dash. Thanks to Yan from the Blenheim Gang for pointing it out!