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Future models - Citroen - C4

First look: Citroen’s C4 set for Melbourne debut

Double debut: Citroen's C4 hatch (above) and coupe will both be available from launch in March, but some engine variants will be restricted until later in the year.

Citroen's Xsara replacement is full of technical highlights

20 Jul 2004

CITROEN looks set to reassert itself as a "thinking" marque in Australia with the launch of its C4 hatch and coupe at the Melbourne motor show next March.

After venturing into the mainstream with its new generation C2 and C3 hatches, Citroen will introduce some innovative features to the European-bred small car class including bi-xenon cornering headlights and a fatigue-busting lane-drift warning device that activates a vibrator in the driver’s seat.

Australian specification is still under negotiation, however all models will be fitted with a centre-mounted translucent instrument cluster, which automatically adjusts to ambient light conditions, as well as a "floating" multi-function steering wheel which turns via the rim but not the central hub.

33 center imageThe unorthodox steering wheel design has enabled the French manufacturer to engineer a (claimed) more protective driver’s airbag.

Citroen Australia spokesman Edward Rowe said coupe and hatchback models would both be available from launch, but certain engine variants – still to be determined – would be restricted until the third or fourth quarter of 2005.

Australian-spec engines will include 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol variants for both body styles, a 2.0-litre petrol for the manual-only VTS two-door and a 1.6-litre turbo-diesel for the five-door.

The latter will also be offered with a more temperate 2.0-litre engine, while all models other than VTS will be available with either a manual or automatic transmission.

A rally-bred model with all-wheel drive and turbocharged performance is also under consideration.

Once the full range is here, Citroen Australia expects to sell 300-400 C4s per month, which would be a massive increase over the slow-selling Xsara. VFACTS figures show that between 2001-2003, the Xsara range averaged 400 sales per annum.

"We’ve had limited supply, we’ve run out of the versions that are the good sellers and essentially we’ve just been selling the peripheral versions," Mr Rowe said.

"It was halfway through its life by the time it arrived in Australia and we’ve been playing catch-up ever since. The other key issue is we would have sold a lot more 1.6 (and 2.0-litre) coupes if we’d had an automatic gearbox."C4 pricing is expected to remain close to current Xsara levels, meaning the 1.6-litre manual hatch will start from around $23,000 and rise to the mid-$30,000s for the VTS coupe. Expect final pricing to mirror rivals such as the Renault Megane and Peugeot 307.

Other notable features on the C4 include an electronic tyre-pressure monitor, a speed limiter, scented air freshener and, for better cabin acoustics, laminated side windows.

The C4 is based on the same platform as Peugeot’s 307 small car, which lines up as one of the Citroen’s closest competitors along with fellow Euros like the Renault Megane and the Volkswagen Golf V, which will be launched in Australia in September.

There are more technical treats to come from Citroen.

In September the ultra-flexible C3 Pluriel is due to arrive in Australia while at the Paris motor show the C3 Stop and Start – the first petrol-engine car with an idle-stop feature – will make its official debut, alongside the C4.

XSARA SALES LAMENT

THE results are there in black and white. As these VFACTS figures show, Xsara has not been a strong performer in Australia. But is that about to change? Once the full C4 range is on sale later in 2005, Citroen Australia believes it will sell around as many C4s a month as it did in a year with the Xsara.

Xsara sales 1998 1999 2000200120022003
Hatch193 303 298 149 260 175
Coupe --- 218243 154

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