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10/02/2011 1627

Citroen - Osee

How come the name OSÉE?

Sometimes it is enjoyable to do something unexpected: to dare in other words, hence the choice of the name OSÉE for the new Pininfarina research prototype, the first to be conceived on Citroen mechanicals. It is a styling study that develops the theme of the pure mid-engined sports car, a new layout and concept for the French Company but realised with full respect for Citroën's philosophy and image.

Pininfarina has a great tradition in the creative, technical and industrial fields, having been a partner in long-standing collaboration agreements, first and foremost its successful partnerships with Ferrari and Peugeot, dating back 50 years. And when Pininfarina began working with younger manufacturers such as the Japanese, it established a stable relationship with Honda that has now been in existence over 25 years. The will and ability to create lasting agreements does not mean that the company has lost interest in the new evolutionary trends in the car, or in an international approach to the market. In the 1950s the company founder Pinin Farina was the testimonial for the launch of the Nash-Healey in the United States, and today Pininfarina designs and develops cars for the Chinese market, with the aim to establish another long-term collaboration agreement.

However there are a number of manufacturers with whom Pininfarina has never worked, and the page of the cars that might have been is still blank.

The concentration of car brands and car makers that began several years ago has radically changed the panorama of the car market, extending the range of opportunities for collaboration at different levels for an independent design house like Pininfarina. In particular, Peugeot is no longer just a car maker, but an independent manufacturer, PSA, with two distinct brands: Peugeot on one side, with historical and strategic links with Pininfarina, and Citroen on the other, a name that evokes legendary cars that made their mark for innovative technical and styling content: today the dream of realising a Citroen has come true with the OSÉE, a very particular project, through which Pininfarina aimed to demonstrate its strategic interest in being considered as a potential all-round partner by PSA, for all its product ranges, at every possible level of collaboration: design, engineering and the production of niche models.

Work on the design of the OSÉE began several months ago with number of sketches intended to find a way of working with Citroën but with an original approach that was nonetheless in harmony with the French company's styling and technical universe.

The type of car chosen may be surprising: the concept of the OSÉE is extremely sporty, with a centre-mounted engine and three seats. Well, the goal was to amaze people, and behind this non-conventional decision lie some very specific considerations and reasons.

It is true that extreme sportiness is not a striking feature of Citroën cars, which tend rather to enjoy an image of innovation in the use of space and technology, comfort, practicality and sociability. It appeared best to Pininfarina that Citroen would explore these concepts directly, as it had always done, through the concept cars of its own Creative Centre, while the contribution of a total outsider, which Pininfarina is today, could adopt an approach that would not interfere with the development plans envisaged by the manufacturer, but take a different direction, opening closed doors rather than crowding those already open.

On the other hand, what more can we ask of a designer like Pininfarina than to make us dream, to give us an added value of emotion and desire?

This is therefore the motivation for a surprising choice that represented a great design challenge for Pininfarina.

It entailed adapting the characteristic features of Citroen to a completely atypical concept that was far from the stereotypes of the brand and its history, without betraying them, but enhancing them to the extreme.

A number of strong features of volume and surface area were identified in models such as the DS and the sporty SM which, in addition to representing a historical and cultural heritage for the make, are also fundamental benchmarks for modern car design: - extreme volume ratios linked to the engineering structure, with a large front bonnet/wing and the passenger compartment pushed backwards;

- smooth, simple, streamlined surfaces, animated by clearly legible guidelines;

- a pointed section at the centre of the bonnet;

- lines that descend towards the rear;

- continuous front with air intakes half hidden in the lower part.

This combination of styling cues led to the definition of styling guidelines, so that the project could be harmonised with Citroën's basic philosophy and ideal inspiration.

Citroen stands for non-aggressive performance, gliding quietly along the road, it is the image of a flying carpet that cancels all contact with the ground with its hydroactive suspension technology. Citroen stands for lightness, dynamism, friendliness, flowing water, blowing wind, something going past that you can hear but cannot grasp, almost an immaterial spirit.

Citroen is France, it is creative, logical, functional ingenuity, Descartes and poetry together with no temporal dimension.

Summarising all these ideas, concepts and sensations in a finished form that expresses them in an immediately perceptible way, is the challenge of every styling study: during the design of the OSÉE, the various inspirations took Pininfarina into hitherto unexplored territory.

OSÉE: what it is like

An architecture with a centre-mounted longitudinal engine was chosen, to underline the total split with the platforms and the types of car that make up the Citroen universe today, leaving more space to take volumetric research to its extreme. To emphasise the goal of exploitation of space, the width in this case, the interior was designed to seat three, with the driver at centre front and the passengers at either side, further back. The inverted "L" recalls the chevron of the Citroen logo, a coincidence that allows the passengers to be seated out of line, recovering lateral space, while the driver is not hindered, as he usually is, by the wheelarch.

Finally to simplify access to the central seat, the entire upper part of the passenger compartment can be removed.

This proposal has never been attempted in mass production, and increases the visual impact of the show car, paying homage to the many prototypes that introduced it in the 1960s.

The overhangs are very short, with the wheels at the four corners, giving the car an impression of great compactness and stability. The long wheelbase (2650 mm) and the forward position of the windscreen make the car's proportions very unusual.

This is briefly the background to the project; the brand philosophy, the strong historical styling cues, the car's architecture and geometry. But the Pininfarina design team had another important objective.

The spirit with which an independent design house tackles a project is very different from that of a car maker's own in-house designers.

The latter's skill lies in continuing to interpret and develop brand styling through its models.

The skill of the independent designer, on the contrary, is to come up with specific shapes for the various makes for which he works, according to his own aesthetic and creative vision. And he is more successful in the extent to which his personal vision adapts and enhances the characteristics of each different make.

Less than a year after the realisation of the "rossa" research prototype, conceived around the Ferrari image and therefore aggressive, complex, plastic and muscular, Pininfarina decided to tackle the topic of the extreme sports car from Citroen's angle, which is totally different: rarefied, threadbare, almost minimalist, but also perfectly in line with Pininfarina's basic esthetical vision.

The character of the OSÉE is the result of its proportions and a few strong design elements. The long wheelbase, non-existent overhangs and backward cabin convey a strong styling personality. The unusual proportion of the side of the car is employed as a strong styling element, with no attempt to hide it, an ostentatious excess without veils.

On the other hand, the surfaces that clothe these proportions are simple and clean, resting on three longitudinal ribs, one at the centre and two at the sides, which incline inwards like the canvas wings of a biplane.

The central rib creates a "spinal cord" effect that runs from the double chevron of the nose, through the cabin to the rear, almost harking back to a "bateau" body with a shape like a ship's poop.

The side is deliberately smooth, with no additional movements or sculpted elements that would spoil or interrupt it.

Smooth surfaces, a slightly pointed nose and sides descending towards the rear are typical features of the DS and SM, the models taken as paragons of modern Citroen design. 

The nose has a rounded section which links smoothly up with the upper and lower parts of the car.

The air intake is symbolised by the narrow slits that start from the Citroen logo at the centre of the car. A second air intake is camouflaged in the lower part, in the best brand tradition. The continuous, rounded surface of the nose conveys an impression of protection and softness rather than cutting aggressiveness. The triangular light clusters accompany the logo and underline the longitudinal lines of the car's structure.

The windscreen emerges from the wide, short bonnet, with a continuous cut up to the roof.

The edge of the window terminates with a slit that supplies the engine air intake. The continuous horizontal surface of the roof tapers off in the plan view, to create a sharp vertical volume that is another strong point of the car.

The air outlets of the engine bay are built into the roof surface, continuing the arrow shaped cut of the windscreen, and reiterating the chevron motif in the plan view.

Another characteristic strong point is the treatment of the rear volumes where the tapered cabin creates two large surfaces which widen towards the rear and link up to the roof. In the three-quarters view, the "crest" of the cabin and the large, rear mounted wings are much in evidence.

To allow access to the interior, the entire superstructure of the cabin is lifted up by a hydraulic system activated by remote control. The interior conveys the same philosophies: pioneering flight, the materials, the central spinal cord.

The three passengers are seated in a triangle to make better use of transverse space.

Because it is a pure sports car, the central role of the driving position is emphasised both physically and ideally. The driver is seated on a very essential shell anchored to the car. The steering wheel and pedals are both adjustable. The offset side seats are treated "mimetically" compared to the rest of the environment. The facia is made of a tubular element that crosses the car, on which the functional elements are clustered. A textile surface, a sail or a wing, is stretched on this structure, visibly reiterating the entire design philosophy. One precise condition of the project was the complete break between the architecture of the OSÉE and that of any other Citroen of today. As a result, the chassis was built specifically, integrating two fundamental elements of Citroen:

- The six cylinder, three litre engine.

it was adapted to be mounted longitudinally and coupled with a gearbox with electronically activated controls.

- The hydroactive 3th generation suspension.

This is the strongest of Citroën's unique features and allows two objectives to be achieved;

- active aerodynamics, varying the set-up of the car on the basis of the speed and negative lift required;

- "flying 10 cm above the ground", i.e. a sporty driving style with complete absorption of surface irregularities.

It is important to underline that this feature, the perception of almost leaving the ground, as in a flight simulator, made possible by the hydroactive suspension even on a high performance car, could represent the great quality and peculiarity of a true Citroen sports car, just as Pininfarina imagined it.

source: Pininfarina. Please mention when using this text.

Three-seater research prototype, the first to be conceived on Citroën mechanicals, it is a styling study that develops the theme of the pure mid-engined sports car, a new layout for the French Mark. The styling guidelines, the architecture and the geometry of the project have been realised with full respect for Citroën's philosophy and image. "Best in Show" at the 2001 Geneva Motor Show.

source: Pininfarina

Engine & performance:

Type: V6, 24-valves, 4OHC

Capacity: 2964 cc

Power: 194 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 267 Nm @ 3750 rpm

Drive: RWD


Length: 4150 mm

Width: 1895 mm

Height: 1156 mm

Wheelbase: 2650 mm


2001  Frankfurt
2001  Geneva

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