Technically Citroen is already there, having discontinued the C4 hatch in late 2017 and rolling out a refreshed C4 Cactus (below) that dials back the SUV-esque styling of earlier versions to straddle the crossover middleground between passenger cars and SUVs.
According to a report by AutoCar out of the UK, by the time the next generation C-segment model surfaces next decade Citroen’s streamlining of its model ranges will limit the brand to just eight model lines, meaning no room for two vehicles playing in essentially the same segment.
Citroen product planning chief Xavier Peugeot explained that since its introduction in 2014 the C4 Cactus had outsold the regular C4 (below) in Europe, leading to the decision to delay a replacement for the C4 when the previous generation finished its model run last year, leaving the C4 Cactus to take its place.
"We needed to reduce our line-up to eight silhouettes,” Peugeot said. “One of these models had to go. The C4 and C4 Cactus are converging into one.”
Peugeot confirmed that development work was already underway for the next-generation car, but was unable to confirm if the new model would retain the crossover style of the current C4 Cactus, or revert back to a traditional hatchback form.
Although not specifically mentioned, the new model also has the potential to offer both a low-ride height hatch alongside a raised variant with additional SUV styling details applied to the same basic bodywork.
The success of the current C4 Cactus will dictate the direction the new hatch takes, but Peugeot insists the new model will continue to polarise, and hopes that Citroen’s cars will continue to divide opinion - a potentially risky situation as the brand works to grow sales volumes.
With Citroen also introducing the conceptually similar C3 Aircross small SUV (above), the next-gen C4 could also step back its SUV-inspired features so as to differentiate the two vehicles.
With Citroen’s parent company Groupe PSA also looking to rationalise its platform and engine ranges, the next Citroen small car is a certainty to use a modular platform that will also appear beneath the next Peugeot 308 and Opel Astra along with other compact models from the group.
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