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The Citroën Xenia was a concept vehicle that Citroën presented in 1981. The Xenia was an MPV in the shooting brake style based on the upcoming Citroën BX . Trevor Fiore was responsible for the design , while the prototype was made at Heuliez .
Matra project P18 and P20
In 1978, PSA Peugeot-Citroën took over all of Chrysler's European activities ( Chrysler Europe ). In the same year Lancia presented the Lancia Megagamma and in 1979 Mitsubishi Motors presented the Mitsubishi Space Wagon as concept vehicles. As a result, there were more and more such prototypes and at that time there was speculation with many future vehicle types and customer reactions at the trade fairs were tested accordingly. At that time, however, vans were not yet on the market and future success was not yet foreseeable.
Matra developed as a project P18 for now belonging to PSA own brand Talbot a minivan as a successor to the Talbot Rancho . In 1981 the project was presented to the management of PSA. In particular, because the prototype was largely made up of components from discontinued Talbot models (formerly Simca ) and partly on Chrysler components, it did not convince PSA's management team. Then Matra built the project as Project P20 on the chassis of the upcoming Citroën BX.
P18 and P20 as the basis of the Citroën Xenia
Citroën used the previous plans for the Xenia, which was not designed as a van, but as a generous shooting brake in the luxury class. In the opinion of Citroën at the time, Lancia had made a mistake in designing the Megagamma as a family car, because they would prefer either a station wagon or a minibus and Lancia and Citroën would be more brands for more discerning customers. Citroën therefore basically followed the concept of the Megagamma, but more as an elegant, sporty shooting brake with a total of 4 individual seats, where the individual passenger has as much space as possible. The front doors were so large that it was still easy to get on to the rear seats and therefore rear doors could be omitted. The rear seats could be folded down to sleep and were numerous adjustable. Office equipment with a car phone on the seat and folding shelves were also installed, as well as footrests that could be folded out of the vehicle floor. In addition to the usual hydropneumatics , the Xenia had the further developed dashboard already presented in the Citroën Karin with a round dashboard mounted parallel to the steering wheel and control satellites or push buttons attached to it , as well as a telephone keypad and radio controls behind or under the steering wheel.
The center console with a joystick as a selector lever for the automatic transmission was also innovative . Particular emphasis was placed on a low drag coefficient as well as plenty of light in the interior and clarity of the body. The window areas were correspondingly large and roller blinds were provided for this to darken. The environment was also thought of and solar cells were attached to the roof for the air conditioning to supply the electricity. Overall, the Xenia should act more as a big sporty shooting brake than as a van and the targeted customers showed rather restrained reactions.
Further development of MPVs at PSA
The Matra project P20 was also unable to convince the management of PSA to develop a series model. People were skeptical about the market opportunities and after the takeover of Chrysler Europe PSA had massive financial difficulties because they had underestimated the problems. As a result, PSA limited itself to the mass models and did not want to take any unnecessary risks. At the same time, there were initial doubts as to whether the change from Simca to Talbot and the continued existence of Talbot made sense. Citroën in its further development was also affected by the crisis and the interest of customers in the study was cautious, so that any plans for a series model were dropped. The financial difficulties also led PSA to sell its shares in Matra in 1982. Matra, in turn, was convinced of the success of the P20 project and built a prototype based on the Renault 18 from the results so far . Renault immediately decided on a series model in 1983 and, together with Matra, developed the Renault Espace from it , which then achieved great market successes from 1984.
Historically, PSA made the wrong decision when it sold all rights to the near-finished development to Renault in 1983. This may also have been due to the fact that PSA was faced with the final decision to discontinue Talbot, and PSA was of the opinion that the model would not match the range of models offered by Peugeot or Citroën. Other developments for Talbot, such as the Talbot Arizona , were integrated into the range of models after the decision to hire Talbot in 1984.
In the year the Xenia was presented in 1981, the Datsun Prairie in Japan was the first model of the new vehicle class, followed in 1983 by the Mitsubishi Space Wagon and the Plymouth Voyager . After the Renault Espace was initially cautiously received by customers, it became a sales success by 1986 at the latest. Now PSA urgently needed a competitive model. Heuliez was commissioned to create a model based on the Citroën BX. This PSA was too small in terms of space, as it would have corresponded to today's compact vans.
PSA / Fiat Project U60 - Eurovan
Under the project name U60, PSA developed an MPV that should be somewhere between the rather compact Nissan Prairie and the Renault Espace in size. From the start, however, there should be as many seats as in the Espace. In 1987 the first sketches were ready and a 1/5 model was created. PSA and Fiat have already worked together as Sevel on various projects. The Fiat group also needed an offer in the new vehicle segment and so in 1988 a joint development based on the previous PSA project U60 and production at Sevel Nord was decided. Subsequently, in addition to Peugeot, Citroën, Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo , external design studios such as Italdesign , Pininfarina , Bertone and IDEA were also involved in the development, specification and coordination for the respective brand needs. However, Fiat dropped the plan to produce a model of Alfa Romeo with a different body. The development was finished in 1992 and came onto the market in 1994 as Eurovan (PSA / Fiat) .
The concept of the Xenia in turn was built by Renault years later as Renault Avantime .