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Picasso in 2003 ... promise

Pretty as a picture: Well maybe not, but the curved look of the Citroen Picasso is certainly distinctive.

Citroen Australia says its compact people-mover will be here soon

11 Dec 2002

JUST like Christmas, Citroen's Xsara Picasso compact people-mover is on its way to Australia.

But Christmas will certainly get here first.

The rounded little five-seater, first shown in Australia at the 1999 Sydney motor show, is now scheduled to be launched at Darling Harbour in 2003.

Back in the 20th century, the Picasso was going to come here with a 1.8-litre petrol engine mated only to a five-speed manual gearbox.

As recently as last March Australian journalists including GoAuto's Marton Pettendy were sampling the Picasso in France with late 2002 being touted as the local on-sale date.

Now the plan is for it to come here post-facelift in late 2003 with the choice of 2.0-litre petrol or turbo-diesel engines and an automatic gearbox as well.

"The British have been selling more Picassos than the factory can supply and we are so close now to the facelift and automatic transmission that happen next year, it would now be silly to bring it in," said Citroen Australia spokesman Edward Rowe.

"Those two bits of equipment will be at the Sydney motor show next year." Pricing is tipped to start around $30,000 to line up with the 2.0-litre Renault Scenic, while the turbo-diesel is expected to add a premium around $2000.

The 2.0-litre 16-valve four-cylinder petrol's figures are 100kW at 6000rpm and 196Nm of torque at 4100rpm, while the turbo-diesel produces 80kW at 4000rpm and 210Nm at just 1900rpm.

The Picasso and the 1.6-litre C3 five-door hatch, which is due around mid-year, will be Citroen's 2003 model additions. Combined with the existing range, which includes the 1.4 C3 launched this month, Citroen Australia is shooting for 3000 sales in 2003, up from 2002's anticipated total of 1700 sales.

In 2004 it ups the ante again with a target of 5000 sales. Early that year the "five-cars-in-one" C3 Pluriel is expected here along with the C2 three-door, probably as a 125kW-130kW hot hatch only.

"C2 will really depend on price," Mr Rowe said. "Realistically, if you want an entry level C2 it's going to have to be $15,990 for it to be significantly different from the C3 and it's not poaching sales.

"But the plan is at the moment not to have a performance variant of C3, instead having a 125kW or 130kW C2. That would interest us." The C4 Xsara replacement and C6 large car are both tipped to have 2004 international debuts, while the tiny C1 - being developed as part of the joint Toyota-PSA Peugeot Citroen project - is pencilled in for the 2004/05 period.

To aid its growth plan, Citroen Australia will expand its dealer network from 20 to 25 in 2003, with new outlets set to open in Parramatta (NSW), Nunawading (Vic) and Hobart. Major rural centres are also under consideration.

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