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UFOs Have Landed: Citroen’s UFO Concept


Citroën’s UFO concept car certainly is the stuff of legend. Unveiled some years ago by French designer Ora Ito, the sleek metallic UFO is still turning heads and creating waves. At Citroen’s exhibition hall at Champs-Elysées in Paris, it continues to generate a number of viral hits on Instagram and Twitter feeds. But that isn’t the only thing the design has spawned. The head-turning disc has given new life to Citroën’s DS line.


Citroën which forms a part of France’s biggest carmaker Peugeot first unveiled the DS brand at the 1955 Paris Motor Show. The public’s initial reaction to the DS line was that it resembled a UFO. According to PSA Peugeot Citroën sales and marketing director Arnaud Ribault, “This car was considered a U.F.O. when it was launched. Just in the middle of those square cars you have a rocket.”

Ora Ito and the Citroen UFO. Photo Courtesy of Ora Ito.


That idea certainly wasn’t lost on Ora Ito when the designer was tasked with bringing Citroën into the future during a circuit of car shows and media appearances that included Milan’s car show and a host of others in 2011 and 2012. What he, in fact, brought to life was something straight out of the pages of an Isaac Asimov novel, a flying saucer. Clocking in at 364 cm x 297cm x 107 cm in dimension the UFO is Haute Design at its most extravagantly decadent. And while we won’t be seeing any souped up versions of the UFO speeding, or rocketing for that matter, down the Autobahn anytime soon, it still has done its part to bring Citroën full circle.


Enter DS. Since the oh’s and ah’s have died down from the 2011 and 2012 car shows, DS has ramped up its vision for “luxury” car making with its new line of adverts with fashion icon Iris Apfel. Apfel who is quickly pushing towards becoming a centenarian at 94 years old hasn’t lost a step in curating haute couture fashion accessories. Her most recent collaboration with luxury shopping center Le Bon Marché in Paris comes on the heels of a similarly eye-catching brand ambassador gig for Citroën.

Citroen UFO. Photo courtesy of Citroen.

In the ads we see Apfel whipping through a cloud of multicolored fashion accessories in the DS 3. The DS 3 is Citroën’s solid push to secure an upmarket audience with its latest incarnation in the DS line. While hardcore DS experts will point out that the original DS sold 12,000 orders on the first day of its release behind a wave of enthusiasm and excitement, the DS 3 is much more subdued in both design and appearance. Something of a hatchback with a luxury interior, the DS 3’s ultimate goal is to counter the upmarket moves of rivals like BMW and Audi.


Does it succeed? Well if car enthusiasts compare the look of the DS 3 to the original or to the UFO, they’ll likely be disappointed. But where the former two are heavy on design, the DS 3 is heavy on function. It comes with 5 different variations on the engine: an 81bhp 1.2-liter triple, a 1.6-liter four with 118bhp or one with 154 bhp, and two variations of a 1.6-liter diesel with 91bhp or 113bhp. The interior is plush, solid and on par with most upmarket brands rendering the same kind of car. But it’s not the UFO Ito imagined some 5 years ago. It doesn’t gleam with a sleek metallic glow. It doesn’t look like it’s had a few takes under the hot film lights of an X-files episode. But it does in its discreet and family-friendly way pay homage to the two iconic designs that paved the way for its debut.