Used car buying guide: Citroen C6

1 year, 10 months ago - 23 May 2022, autocar
Citroen C6
Citroen C6
This seductive old-school Citroën is worth rolling your sleeves up for

It’s sad to think that a whole generation will have grown up without the foggiest notion of how great Citroën once was.

If that sounds damning to the latest cars, note that I don’t mean great as in great for novices to buy and run on a budget or cheap enough for family men anxious to get a large and trendy new SUV to lease or buy. No, I mean great as in innovative, radical, revolutionary, intelligent, stylish, charming and just a little dashing, appealing to the intellect as well as to the heart, just as most of those post-war Citroëns were.

Alas, Brits have always flocked to big Citroëns like a politician to a lie-detector test, largely due to the questions over their complexity and the reliability and depreciation issues attached therein.

So hats off to those brave few who took the plunge and bought a Citroen C6 when they were new. In fact, in the land of the UK, despite it being on sale from 2005 to 2012, fewer than 1000 people did, which makes it something of a rarity and technically now a collector’s car.

But those who have knowledge of it – or better still bought one – can hug themselves in self-congratulatory glee, knowing that this sleek beauty can, thanks to its self-levelling hydropneumatic suspension (the latest Hydractive 3+ version with three automatic position modes), waft with the very best of them.

There’s a soft, pillowy ride with plenty of pitch and roll and a sybaritic interior of leathery goodness, with just enough of the traditional Citroën idiosyncrasies to keep it interesting and set it apart from German rivals.

Those sleek lines only echo those marvellous Citroëns of old, so well that you could almost make a case for buying this C6 just to park up in your drawing room to stare at. It’s an undeniably beautiful thing, long and low and, if you squint, it’s the natural successor to the iconoclastic DS and CX. It even has a concave rear screen like the CX to keep rain off at speed.

Admittedly, there are a few flies in the ointment. The diesel V6 in the vast majority of the cars sold here is smooth enough but, at the end of the day, is still just a diesel. There are petrols, but you will be hard pushed to find one. The dashboard is a bit vertiginous, but who cares?

Oh, and it’s not quite the last word in dynamic ability, especially when it comes to body control and agility, but then if those things are high on your list of desirables, I suspect you wouldn’t be looking at an eccentric old Citroën.

The engine choice initially was a 3.0-litre petrol V6 with 215bhp or a twin-turbo 2.7-litre diesel V6 with 208bhp, both mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. A 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel with 171bhp joined in 2007 with a six-speed manual. A 237bhp 3.0-litre diesel V6 arrived in 2009, replacing the 2.7-litre unit.

The C6 was well equipped, too. Trims started with the base car and went up to mid-level Lignage before hitting top-rung Exclusive. Standard equipment included nine airbags, an active rear spoiler, xenon headlights, a head-up display and tyre-pressure monitoring. Options included the Lounge Pack, bringing powered and heated rear seats.

Safety was a high priority, too. At the time of its launch, the C6 scored a five-star Euro NCAP rating and was notable for having a pop-up bonnet that helped it net the first maximum result in the pedestrian impact test.

A final word of warning, though. If you want to become one of the lucky few and get your derrière into this wafty aerodyne, do take note of the first sentence or two of our expert’s view (right). It seems love can come at a hefty price.

What we said then

26 April 2006: “The C6 is a competent, characterful and endearing car. It’s enormous inside, with huge front seats – a car designed as much for its occupants as its driver. Rarely does it feel slow. The engine’s power is delivered smoothly and the gearshifts arrive softly. Its ride is well isolated, although at very low speeds the suspension can’t stop the effect of broken surfaces entering the cabin. The damping’s best work is done at the top end of urban speeds.”

How to get one in your garage

An expert’s view

Rob Moss, C6 specialist, The Chevronic Centre: “I love C6s, but they’re trouble and cost you a lot to maintain. There are lots of things to go wrong. I had a C6 when they were new. It was only two years old when I got it, but it spent a lot of time in the workshop. The main problem is the hydraulic pipes are no longer available, and they leaked even when they were new. Most Citroën hydropneumatic systems are pretty reliable, but these were more specialist. C6s are beautifully designed and made, though.”

Buyer beware

Engine: Servicing for the 2.7-litre V6 will cost about £150 for an interim service, £320 for a full two-yearly service. Timing belts and tensioners should be changed every 100,000 miles or seven years. Check the plastic thermostat housing, which can crack, causing a coolant leak. If the engine temperature light comes on, it’s too late. Rob Moss says the engines are strong but there have been issues with the EGR valve, which can stick or fail. The turbos can be problematic, too. An engine management light could signal an EGR or turbo issue.

Suspension: Chassis issues relate to worn lower-bottom front ball joints (prior to a redesign in 2009). Any issues with the suspension could land you with large four-figure repair bills. A front suspension unit is now about £500. It’s crucial to have diagnostics run on any C6 that you’re thinking of buying.

Wheels, tyres and bodywork: Don’t worry about the alloy wheels, but the body can suffer corrosion around the rear window frame. Trim fixings and many of the components in the pop-up rear spoiler are prone to surface rust. Check that the spoiler operates as it should.

Brakes: The brakes are up to the task, but there were recalls relating to the vacuum circuit, which could lead to the loss of power assistance. The ABS sensors can be problematic and the rear brakes can seize on, due to alloy and steel reacting. A strip-down clean and coating should fix this. The tyre pressure sensors are known to fail.

Interior: The cabin wears reasonably well. The air-con needs regular servicing: expect a re-gas every second year. The steering-wheel switches can cause the cruise control to fail. Check all the electric functions and controls work. If all the dashboard lights are out, check the ‘dark’ button hasn’t been pushed. Check the powered rear seats and steering-wheel adjusters.

Also worth knowing

Any knocking from underneath at the front on pre-2009 cars points to worn bushes and ball joints on the lower suspension arms. You can’t buy a ball joint on its own from Citroën, but there are aftermarket options.

Check that the headlights work properly. Water can get inside and the units are prone to damage from knocks. They’re expensive to replace.

The suspension should start rising when the car is opened, not when you turn on the engine. If it doesn’t, there could be an issue with the electronic pump. Check for frayed wires.

The suspension should stay level on the road. If it doesn’t, there could be an issue with the stiffness-control valve. Just a slight drop in nitrogen pressure in the C6’s seven spheres can seriously affect its attitude, so have a specialist check the system.

How much to spend

£3000-£3999: High-mileage (120,000 to 190,000) early C6s in questionable condition.

£4000-£6999: Nicer cars, still at around 100,000 miles but most with a full history.

£7000-£9999: Lots of 2.7 V6s at around 100,000 miles, in good nick with a full history.

£10,000 and above: Cars with low mileages and a full history in excellent condition.

One we found

Citroen C6 2.7 HDI Linage, 2008, 72,000 miles, £5995: In superb nick, with rare full-leather upholstery and a JBL stereo. First owned by Citroën UK and two owners since. Maintained by a specialist since 2015. New cambelt fitted less than 10k miles ago and all seven spheres were replaced last year. Fresh MOT.

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