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French revolution

Vitamin C: Miles Williams pictured with Citroen's C3 and C5.

Citroen plots its own product-led revolution

18 Jun 2001

CITROEN plans to counter growth plans chalked out by French rivals Renault and Peugeot with its own "product-led revolution".

The twin-chevron brand sold a modest tally of 652 cars here last year but aims to inflate this figure to 1000 this year, 1500 in 2002 and in excess of 2000 by 2005.

The C5, which goes on sale within a week, will be a key player for Citroen, but the company has a host of other newcomers up its sleeve.

Here is what's in store: 2001
C5 wagon: Due to join sedan sibling after makings its debut at this year's Sydney motor show. Expect a premium of around $3000 over the equivalent sedan.

2002
C3: Five-door compact car replaces the Saxo (which we don't get - it sits below Xsara in Europe). C3 is described as the rebirth of the fabled 2CV. Unlike New Beetle, Citroen promises it will be keenly priced, spacious and positioned as a volume seller.

Picasso: Xsara-based mini-MPV has been selling up a storm in Europe, proving more popular than the Renault Scenic, Vauxhall Zafira and Nissan Tino in the UK. Strong demand in Europe means we won't get it until late next year. Expect pricing around $30,000.

C5 soft-roader: An all-wheel drive variant of the C5 wagon is also in the pipeline late next year. Will compete against the likes of the Volvo Cross-Country.

2003
C2: This three-door super-mini will join the line-up in 2003 and be offered in Europe with engines ranging from 1.0 to 2.0 litres. Most striking feature will be sliding side doors that offer "four-door access".

Pluriel: A vehicle with two removable arches running the length of the body, a retractable material top, a double floor at the rear and no centre pillar, Pluriel can be configured as a sedan, convertible or utility.

2004
C4: Will replace the Xsara, which was recently treated to a facelift. New model may be slightly larger than current car.

C6: New luxury car based on concept unveiled at the 1999 Geneva motor show. Built on the same platform as the C5 but more adventurous style. May use cameras instead of rear-view mirrors and infrared vision for safer night driving.

Miles of smiles

CITROEN Australia general manager Miles Williams says he is satisfied with the 25 per cent growth in sales achieved by the brand so far this year.

VFACTS figures indicate Citroen sold 323 cars until the end of May, compared with 260 for the same period last year.

Mr Williams says this total was achieved despite not having a full supply of Xsaras.

"We are returning to Citroen's core values of offering cars with innovative technology. The C5 (launched to the media last week) is more technically advanced than any of its competitors," he said.

"I think we've got the pricing (of the C5) pretty right - it will carry us into a much broader market segment than we've been competing in.

"We will have a modest launch with print advertising and will set up a C5 website to satisfy interest in details about the car." Citroen has just increased its warranty from two-year/unlimited kilometre to three-year/60,000km, which should make it a more attractive proposition for buyers ? especially those concerned about reliability issues.

"Dealers have been wanting to offer a three-year warranty on the car. We're now there with Volkswagen and Audi." Citroen's dealer network is also expanding with Sydney-based Rick Damelian last Saturday joining the marque's list of retailers.

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