French Friday: The PSA EMP2 Family

PSA today is in a bit of a weird spot. Ever since the Peugeot-Citroen merger back in the ‘70s, PSA has struggled to differentiate its two brands in a meaningful to consumers and journalists alike: every time Peugeot started to shine, Citroen would seem bland by comparison; when Citroen regained its quirky, avant-garde flair, Peugeots became awful and ugly. By the late 2000’s, the two brands became essentially homogeneous with the only deciding factor between the 508 and C5 being the hydropneumatics of the latter, itself a holdover from Citroen’s glory days. PSA desperately needed to inject relevance into its brand distinction so what did they do? They created a third brand.

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And, surprise of surprises, it worked. Well, kind of. DS Automobiles had a rocky start with cars badged simultaneously as Citroens and DS’s thus starting them off on a less than prestigious note for what PSA meant as a solidly premium brand. Nowadays, though, DS is a fully independent spin-off which has thankfully derived a language of its own that is remarkably distinct from that of either Peugeot or its progenitor Citroen.

And, as that happened, Peugeot and Citroen went their own separate ways too. Peugeot, with its i-Cockpit and tiny diameter steering wheels has taken on a far sportier, more racy aesthetic. Citroen, with its airbumps and funky color schemes, has become a kind of youthful, rugged brand. And, of course, DS are now plush and glamourous with plenty of suede and shiny bits.

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Nowhere is that more apparent than with these three CUVs on the PSA EMP2 platform. Though underneath all the oily bits are nearly identical, their outer personalities couldn’t be more different.

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The second generation Peugeot 3008 features an angular and heavily sculpted body with plenty of ties to Peugeot’s lineup and its myriad of concept cars. The deep copper sparkle contrasts nicely with its black roof, and the car overall resembles a big hot hatch, perhaps a 308 GT Line but lifted.

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The Citroen C5 Aircross emphasizes the double chevron brand’s new direction started by the C4 Cactus with funky side bumps and contrasting color accents on a round, space-age body. The black front pillars create a bit of a “cantilevered” roof effect, and the “eyebrow” DRLs are an evolution of those first seen on the C4 Picasso.

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Finally there’s the DS7 Crossback, an Audi Q5 ripoff but a rather handsome one in my opinion. The signature bright orange paint is a great color, and the round body and square grille certainly lends it a Germanic feel (presumably more “premium”).

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So there you have it, PSA’s three very different takes on the mid-size CUV. Well, not quite; there’s now a fourth option under the title of the Opel Grandland X. What will PSA do to differentiate yet another mainstream brand? Only time will tell.


Note: All of these are three-inch Norevs, of course, and under the new direction the brand is taking they are much closer to 1:64 than the previous “don’t care, just around three inches” 1:55-60 from the mid 2000’s. Quality has stepped up accordingly as well as hopefully shown in the pictures where all the details are excellent and well-picked out. They are certainly now display models, lacking the sturdiness of the prior generation, but for an adult collector they are quite satisfying especially at less than $5 a pop! As y’all are probably aware, I am a sucker for models that match well yet this collection was a bit of an accident as I picked up each one separately and didn’t even realize their mutual connection until yesterday! Sure, they’re pretty boring “normal” cars but not ones we get here, and it’s quite a fun way to “own” some French metal!

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