It's not unusual for a project leader to have to develop two body styles at the same time, but the task given to Citroen's Alain Joseph in 2005 was somewhat more challenging. The 48-year-old engineer had to simultaneously develop a replacement for the bread-and-butter five-door C3 subcompact and a three-door variant that would become the first vehicle in Citroen's new DS premium-model lineup.
The projects had radically different mandates. The new C3 had to continue the previous generation's styling characteristics to help keep its traditional buyers. The DS3 had to break the styling mold and compete for buyers in a new segment for Citroen, premium small cars, a segment dominated by BMW and its Mini brand.
Early sales appear to show that both missions have been accomplished. C3 sales are well ahead of last year's pace while Citroen says it has received more than 34,000 orders for the DS in its first four months on the market.
Each car came with a set of specific styling challenges.
As well as maintaining styling continuity with the previous model, the new C3 had to prioritize comfort and visibility. The latter specification led to the creation of an oversized windshield Citroen calls Visiodrive.
Now half a meter larger than the previous model and 1.53 square meters in total area, the C3's windshield adds 80 degrees of visibility to the driver or front passenger's high-vision angle.
“The Visiodrive extended windshield is the C3's greatest innovation,” Joseph said in a telephone interview.
In contrast to the C3, the DS3 had to be radically different from anything in the Citroen lineup. Carrying the same name as Citroen's iconic 1950s-era luxury sedan, the DS3 had to convey enough confidence and strength of personality to mount a credible challenge to BMW's Mini.
As with the Mini, the DS3 was developed to allow a high degree of customization by buyers. Because the tweaks would be applied during assembly in Poissym, France, Joseph and his team had to (a), develop the specs for a set of allowable add-ons and (b), devise any engineering changes that might be needed for custom assembly.
Joseph joined Citroen parent PSA/Peugeot-Citroen in 1988, shortly after graduation from the Ensam technical university in Paris. His first assignment was to provide design work on the Peugeot 306 dashboard.
After overseeing successful launches for the C3 and DS3, Joseph in March was named chief of the Citroen department responsible for defining objectives for new products, as well as assuring that the targets are met during development.