18 August 2004

Citroen has given its Vectra rival, the C5, a heavy mid-life facelift. A bold new double chevron grille and tick-shaped headlamps follow the design direction previewed on the new C4, which will also be shown at next month’s Paris Motor Show.

The C5’s rear is freshened up by L-shaped lights and a new vertical bootlid, while the cabin gains new instrumentation and a host of new technology: twin-zone air-con, seven airbags including knee ’bags, a lane departure warning system, parking sensors and headlamps that turn with steering inputs.

Engine choices span from a 109bhp 1.6-litre HDi diesel to a 207bhp 3.0-litre V6; many of the diesels will now be available with particulate filter traps. Prices shouldn’t rise from today’s £15k-22k, when sales start this autumn.

Meanwhile there’s good news for go-faster hatch fans, with details of Citroën’s first hot hatch for a generation – the new C2 VTS. Powered by a 125bhp 16-valve 1.6-litre engine linked to a five-speed manual gearbox, the VTS costs £11,995 and comes with air-con and ESP stability control as standard, as well as uprated sports suspension to tune the supermini’s handling for a more sporting intent.

Group eight insurance rating and a year’s free insurance for drivers over 18 will add to the appeal for young buyers, who are traditionally the heartland of the VTR/VTS models.

Citroën expects great things of the VTS in the UK; sales of its predecessor, the Saxo VTR/VTS, accounted for more than the rest of Europe put together.

The C2 VTS will be shown at the Paris Motor Show next month, although it will be in UK showrooms this week.

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