Left to right: Gilles Vidal, Jean-Pierre Ploué and Thierry Metroz
Hope for France: Left to right, Gilles Vidal, Jean-Pierre Ploué and Thierry Metroz

There was a time when "France" and "design" were nearly synonymous, at least in the automotive sphere. Delahaye, Voisin, Bugatti, Talbot-Lago (including the high-water mark Figoni et Falaschi "Tear Drop" cars), etc. Prewar, no one had anything on the French. Even Peugeot and Citroën were in on the action; the former producing the elegant 402 and the latter building the glorious Traction Avant.

However, after the Great Depression and post-WW2 auto shakeout, the scenery changed. Sure, Citroën still had a few design masterpieces left in the tank - the 2CV, the DS and SM. Peugeot made some excellent cars (205, 404) but they certainly weren't lookers. Then a few years back, Peugeot bought Citroën. Since that time, Peugeots have become wildly bizarre-looking, while Citroën has produced exactly one beauty, the C6. Point being, France's automotive designs are a far cry from their prewar glory days.

PSA Peugeot Citroën wants to change that trajectory. Under PSA design leadership of Jean-Pierre Ploué, Gilles Vidal has taken over design of Peugeot and Thierry Metroz is now in charge of how Citroëns look. Metroz might have an easy time of it, as Ploué has to some degree set Citroën on a halfway righteous path. Again, we're big fans of the big C6 and in truth, the C3 and DS3 are pretty much OK-looking as well. Monsieur Gilles, however, has his work cut out for him. Have you looked at a 3008 or an 807 lately? Not so hot.

[Source: CAR]