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First look: The C4 is under there … somewhere

Rally, rally good: The Citroen C4 will replace the Xsara both on-road and on world rally championship gravel.

Citroen rally special disguises new small car contender

20 Feb 2004

UNDERNEATH the wings and things resides Citroen’s new generation small car, the C4.

Just as it did with the C2 12 months ago, Citroen will preview its latest new model under a sporting camouflage at next month’s Geneva motor show.

For now it is called the Citroen Sport Concept, but the real thing will be called C4 and will be unveiled stripped of its disguise and racing paint at the Paris motor show in September.

In Australia we should get C4 by March 2005.

The name change from Xsara to C4 reflects a Citroen-wide preference for numerals. C2, C3 and C5 are already on sale in Australia and the C6 large car should follow C4 onto the Aussie market.

Based on the same platform as PSA partner Peugeot’s highly succesful 307, the C4 is expected to be launched at Paris in three and five-door form as well as a five-door wagon.

What we should see there are cars that take their inspiration from the C-Airdream concept car. The dramatically swept back headlights and prominent grille bars are part of a new Citroen visual identity that will flow into other models.

A replacement for the popular Picasso will not follow until 2005. Any chance of the oft-promised for Australia current Picasso turning up now appear to be over.

In Australia we will get the three-door and five-door C4 models, with a combination of updated or all-new engines, although around the same capacities. At the moment in Australia the Xsara is offered with a combination of 83kW and 93kW 1.6-litre engines and 102kW and 124kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines.

Its too early to make a call on specs and pricing, the importer only pricing both will be competitive in class against Euro rivals such as the 307, Volkswagen Golf, Holden Astra and Ford Focus – of which the second generation will also debut in Paris.

The rally car disguise at Geneva for C4 is entirely appropriate as it will replace the Xsara as Citroen’s world rally contender. It will have big shoes to fill as Sebastian Loeb and Carlos Sainz have performed brilliantly in the existing car.

The same can’t be said for the sales performance of the current Xsara in Australia, which has been on sale here since August 1998.

Based on the same platform as the popular Peugeot 306, the Xsara has never sold better than 303 (1999) in a year.

 Meanwhile, the local Citroen importer has its sights set on a high-rise version of the C3 mini car called the X-TR, which will debut in production form at the Geneva motor show.

Although it looks like an all-wheel drive, the X-TR still in fact drives only the front wheels. It should arrive here in the first quarter of 2005 in 1.6-litre four-cylinder form priced around $28,000.

The X-TR features raised suspension, underbody protection, extended bumpers, side sills and wheel arch extensions, a roof rack system and extra traction for slippery conditions via an electronic limited slip differential.

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