Just recently I was back at my favorite motor museum, the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, to shoot a new series of Jason Drives episodes. While there, I was re-acquainted with a car I’ve seen and driven before, but haven’t really discussed too much on here: a Citroën Dyane. The Dyane is interesting in lots of ways, but today I want to focus on just one maddening detail: how you get out of the damn thing.
The Dyane is, essentially, a 2CV in more modern clothes. It was supposed to be a 2CV replacement (the original 2CV ended up staying in production far longer) and kept the drivetrain and chassis of the 2CV, but updated the body design with something that, while keeping generally the same shape and proportions, was a bit roomier, felt a bit more modern than the corrugated shed-feeling of the original, and had a real hatchback.
Aside from decadent luxuries like headlights actually integrated into fenders and seats more like couches than lawn chairs, the Dyane also sported a somewhat more modern and refined looking interior, still very Citroën idiosyncratic, but a bit less spartan than the 2CV.
One of the changes the Dyane brought were more normal-car-seeming door cards, complete with armrests and door pockets and all of that sort of lavishness. Here’s what they looked like:
Ooh-la-la, that’s living, right there.
Now, here’s my question to you: if you’re sitting in this car, how do you get out?
If there’s any Dyane owners reading this, please don’t spoil it for us Americans and other dummies, okay?
Where’s the door release on this thing? I’ll give you some clues: it’s not in that little finger pocket that acts like a handle to close the door, and the padded armrest doesn’t move or do anything other than provide your arm a comfortable purchase on which to recline.
It’s not in that lower pocket, either, and it’s not part of that molding under the sliding window.
As far as user experience goes, this is what one would call not discoverable.
If you’re baffled, don’t feel too bad—when the lane first got this car, David Yando—the manager of the museum and someone who sits on the board of directors—got in to drive it after hours, when he was alone in the museum, and found himself trapped.
David told me that after a while, genuine panic set in, as he was not interested in spending multiple days without food, water, or a bathroom, living in a French compact car.
Eventually, he was able to get half his body out of the sunroof and reach down to grab the exterior door handle to free himself.
There is a door handle there. Want another peek? This time, I’ll take a picture from an angle you would not have if you were sitting in the car, so it’s a bit cheating.
Still, if you’re stuck, you can see if this angle helps:
See it now? Want the answer? Okay, click here.
Wow, right? That may be the absolute worst interior door handle placement I’ve ever encountered. It’s effectively invisible when you’re sitting in the car, and even if you know where it roughly is, you still have to kind of awkwardly feel around for the little hole there.
Why would Citroën do it this way? Would it have killed them to mold some sort of recess or panel or something into that panel to give a visual indication of where you need to put your hand to get the damn door open?
How many people have been brought to the brink of claustrophobic panic because of this absurd design?