24 February 2004

Citroën has given the biggest hint yet at its forthcoming Xsara replacement, the C4. This design concept will be the centerpiece of the French manufacturer’s Geneva stand next month – and if the likeness that last year’s C2 Sport had to the final production C2 is anything to go by, it’s a faithful representation of the eventual Focus-rival.

It seems speculation that the C4 would borrow heavily from the Airdream and Airlounge concepts of the last two years was justified, and most obviously at the front end. The Citroën Sport concept’s grille suggests a new-look family face for the C4, defined by a more prominent double chevron across the bonnet shut line. One-piece headlamps that sweep back towards the front wheels are also inspired by the Airdream.

Moving further back, the curved A-pillars of the smaller C3 are shunned, in favour of more rakish pillars that lead up to a full glass roof, which should lift cabin ambiance. That roof runs into a controversial rear end that is sure to will remain an industry talking point until the C4’s final unveiling at the Paris show later this year. This image conceals hind-quarters that many have predicted hark back to the reverse-sloping types of Citroëns of yore. Although he wouldn’t commit to specifics, a company spokesman advised us to expect a ‘unique and distinctive’ rear for the three-door variant. When it arrives in showrooms later this year, there will be a five-door hatch to complement that three door. Both will be based on Citroën’s PSA-PF2 platform, currently employed in Peugeot’s 307, and will be powered by a choice of revised and all new engines. Entry-level 1.4-litre and 2.0-litre diesels will be carried over, and augmented by common rail 1.6-litre units developed in conjunction with Ford, and currently on offer in the Focus C-Max. The petrol options look to be made up of 75bhp 1.4, 100bhp and 120bhp 1.8, and a possible 160bhp naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre choices, the latter powering a VTS.

Later in the model’s life, estate and MPV variants will appear. Expect a load-lugger to arrive by the middle of 2005, complete with a similar rear to that of the aforementioned Airdream. C4 Picasso MPVs are also bankable likelihoods, following Citroën’s UK success with the current model, topped by a new seven-seater to combat Renault’s Grand Scenic.

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