The C4 subcompact and revised C5 embody the continuation of Citroën chief designer Jean-Pierre Ploue's new design policy and are seen as critical factors in PSA’s bid to revive the Double Chevron’s image. The models will soon also be in SA!

The C4 subcompact and revised C5 embody the continuation of Citroën chief designer Jean-Pierre Ploue's new design policy and are seen as critical factors in PSA’s bid to revive the Double Chevron’s image. The models, which share a new front-end style incorporating Citroën's logo into the grille to meet EU pedestrian safety rules, will soon also be in South Africa!


The new C4 will form the basis of Sébastien Loeb’s next World Rally Championship car, replacing the now ancient Xsara. This three-door version that takes on some of the good-looking shapes from the smaller C3 and gets back to Citroën’s quirky roots.


The interior redesign is the most futuristic yet from the company… It has a fixed hub in the steering wheel with numerous switches, a system first displayed by the C-Airlounge concept car.


Technology includes a lane-wandering warning system that gets triggered if the car changes paths significantly at high speed without signaling, cornering headlights and a perfume dispenser.


The Xsara was launched in 1997 when Citroën was the lesser of PSA/Peugeot-Citroen's two brands. Since then, PSA chief executive Jean-Martin Folz has sought to restore Citroën's former luster and put it on an equal footing with Peugeot.


"The heart of the Citroën range is being rejuvenated by PSA," said a UK-based car analyst. "The marque is reinventing itself."


The C4 also reflects PSA's belated shift to platform sharing with Peugeot. The C4 joins the Peugeot 307 on the PF2 platform, which means that PSA would for the first time gain economies of scale like other volume manufacturers in the subcompact category.


The 307 sold 440 000 units last year, close to segment leader Volkswagen’s Golf (495 000). However, the 307 was the only PSA car on the PF2 platform and the Volkswagen group typically shares platforms among VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda brands.


Speaking to CARtoday.com recently, Citroën SA marketing manager Ian Beales said that both three- and five-door versions of the C4 would be launched in South Africa in either June or July next year.


“We expect to launch 1,6- and two-litre petrol and a two-litre HDi common rail diesel-engined versions of the C4 hatchback and a 141 kW 2-litre VTS petrol version of the C4 Coupé,” Beales said. "The engines and gearboxes of the C4 will be new (not carried over from the current range) and Citroën South Africa expects to offer a range of up to seven C4 models.


“Both six-speed manual or automatic/paddle-shift Sensodrive transmissions will be available, although the exact model lineup and specifications will only be confirmed later”, he said.


Also in Paris was the restyled C5. The revamp was meant to make the C5 a less "typical car for 50-plus customers" an analyst said. "Compared with the old C5, Citroen's image is getting fresher."


But is the C5’s redesign a step forward? The new front end is altogether more aerodynamic and futuristic than that of its predecessor, but some might say the distinctiveness of the original has been watered down too much. The rear has not been left untouched either - the dramatic light clusters follow the contours of the bootlid, but are they too over the top?


As with the C4, the C5 has Citroën’s new lane departure warning system and xenon headlights that turn as the car corners. Front and rear parking sensors provide audio-visual warnings on a multifunction screen.


Safety inside the car has been stepped up with seven airbags, including one to protect the knee area in a crash, a speed limiter and Citroën’s latest version of ESP. For reduced noise levels and improved security, the side windows are laminated.


A choice of six powerplants will be available, with the petrol units developing between 87 and 156 kW of power. The latest common-rail diesel engines should produce from 82 kW to 103 kW. New six-speed manual and automatic transmissions will also be available.


Beales said the facelifted C5 would be available in South Africa by February 2005.