Memory lane will one day make fools of us all, but we’re still young so we’re not above having a little fun with the past. After the news was confirmed this week that PSA, which owns Citroen and Opel, among others, is in merger talks with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), our minds started spinning off on some very random historically-inspired tangents.
Some of you have already suggested wild ideas like a Pikes Peak Vauxhall Corsa with a Hellcat engine or an Abarth 500 with a gearbox that isn’t total garbage. We’ve brewed some others for your consideration. Take a walk down the back alleys of whimsy with us and let’s see what awesome Franco-Italian-American mash-ups we could hope for.
Platform sharing is one of the key reasons why these players are chasing the merger in the first place. More brands can use the same gear from the same factories, which in turn can run at maximum capacity (and efficiency). Let’s say the suit-wearers decide to carry the sweetly-balanced Alfa Romeo Giorgio platform forward across the new group, sliding crisp new Calvins onto all of its mid-size models.
That would give us potential for a rear-wheel drive Peugeot 508, which, especially as an ‘SW’ estate, is probably the most strikingly handsome mid-size family car on sale today. Alfa also puts a 503bhp V6 into the current Giulia. All of a sudden we catch a strong whiff of something new to rival the AMG C63 estate.
Likelihood: 4/10; front-wheel drive is cheaper to produce.
The last few years (alright, decades) have been a torrid affair for Lancia. The brand, once touched by greatness in just about everything into which it mounted a steering wheel, wasn’t robust enough to live with the unfortunate rust issues of the Beta era. It collapsed in shame, never to build a decent car again. Even now it uses recycled Fiat bits and styling even a mother couldn’t love to make something that’s somehow even worse than you’d fear.
But that could change at long, long last. Look at PSA’s early electric adventures. The e-208 is getting some pretty positive press so far and you could improve the turgid Lancia Ypsilon about 1000 per cent just by putting it on the 208 platform. You’d still need to make it look less like a Daewoo, but with fresh styling and new greasy bits, Lancia could be back in business.
Likelihood: 9/10; all Fiat’s supermini platforms are terrible, so why wouldn’t they?
With some of America’s best V8 engines at a PSA-FCA Group’s disposal, what we’d really love to see is a new VXR8 stuffed with a 6.2-litre supercharged Hemi. Imagine it: all brawn and noise and right-hand drive. It’d be the perfect ragged-edged riposte to the UK/Euro-spec V8 Mustang.
Surely there’s room in FCA’s factories to produce a few more Challenger and Charger chassis, body them as Vauxhalls and Opels and ship them over to be a glorious halo pony car for Europe? We think so, even though we know it’s about as likely as CT entering a design for next year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
Likelihood: 2/10; we can’t imagine there’s a strong enough business case
The main thing wrong with the otherwise brilliant fun Wrangler, at least from a European perspective, is the engine selection. They’re big, thirsty and not well suited to persuading cash-conscious punters to sign on the dotted line. On the other hand, PSA has quite a good plug-in petrol-electric hybrid system with plenty of low-down torque and the option to run on electricity alone at urban speeds. It’s a little further down the road than the hybrid setup currently being cobbled together for the Wrangler by FCA, and Peugeot’s is designed for European tastes and standards.
Combine the mighty Wrangler and proven hybrid power and, like a dirty great rabbit from a tiny little hat, you get a Wrangler we could fall in love with this side of the Atlantic. A Wrangler that would be cheaper to buy, cheaper to run and measurably more future-proof, at least for the next couple of decades. Why not plumb that desirable Wrangler heritage in a way European faux-by-four buyers can engage with? Also, while we’re at it, let’s have a whole range of PSA engines for it, please; ones that aren’t hamstrung by noise or refinement.
Likelihood: 7/10; this one makes a surprising amount of sense…
Maserati and Citroen used to be under the same umbrella. One of the fruits of that partnership was the epic – in several ways – Citroen SM, which came fitted with a Maserati V6. Citroen had bought Maserati in 1968 and set about raiding its parts bins for an engine to turn ‘Project S’, as they called it, into a true gentleman’s GT.
It already used Citroen’s incredibly comfy hydropneumatic suspension and added class-leading brakes, a vast fuel tank and a silken 174bhp V6 that churned out butter-smooth torque. The SM could sit at 125mph all day long in complete, outrageous comfort. It wasn’t popular with the buying public, sadly, but remaining examples are highly prized today. Imagine what Citroen’s ride engineers and FCA’s powertrain designers could do today.
Likelihood: 3/10; Citroen returning to the luxury saloon game would be a shock