Citroën’s sleek replacement for the long-in-the-tooth Xsara shares its nomenclature with an infamous form of plastic explosive - and will undoubtedly cause a big bang at the upcoming Paris Show.

Citroën’s sleek replacement for the long-in-the-tooth Xsara shares its C4 nomenclature with an infamous form of plastic explosive and will undoubtedly cause a big bang at the upcoming Paris Show. recently reported that the Sport Concept, which the ever-quirky manufacturer had unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, offered a glimpse of French WRC star Sébastien Loeb’s next rally car and gives a clear indication of what the marque’s upcoming subcompact model would look like.

The Xsara has never made a big impact on the local market and due to the recent launches of the VW Golf 5, Fiat Stilo and Mazda3 (not forgetting that the Toyota RunX and Opel Astra will also be updated or replaced soon), its unlikely that the aging French family-car ever will. But can the C4 make amends?

Citroën will unveil the C4 in two different bodystyles at the Salon in September. As can be seen from these pictures, the five-door C4 Hatchback has voluptuous curves, which contribute to a drag coefficient of 0.28, and is almost MPV-like in its stance.

By contrast, the three-door C4 Coupé is unmistakably a hot hatch and its sloping bonnet, contoured front end and elaborate lip spoiler contrasts with a dramatic wedged rear end. The integration of the rear spoiler with the rear window is difficult to make out from the Citroën’s pre-launch pictures, but it appears to be in the fashion of the rear treatment on the Mercedes-Benz C230 Sports Coupé.

The headlights of the car were strongly influenced by the front look of the C-Airdream concept, and as can be seen from the pictures, the most distinctive design feature is the integration of the grille and Citroen's chevron badge.

Inside, the C4 has a centrally-mounted control panel and is equipped with a multi-functional, fixed-centred steering wheel. Citroën claims the design of the steering column will enhance safety “by allowing the housing of a specially designed airbag that offers greater protection to the driver”.

Other advanced safety features on C4 include an involuntary lane-departure warning system, designed to help prevent drivers from losing concentration or falling asleep at the wheel, a speed limiter, low tyre pressure warning system and dual-function directional Xenon headlamps.

The manufacturer further claims that the C4 will also be the only car in the class to offer laminated glass side windows, which will provide additional protection against break-ins and “enhance the acoustic comfort inside the cabin”.

The cabin will have a scented air freshener built into the dashboard and translucent instrument cluster is believed to be able to adjust to ambient light, “giving a clear read-out no matter what the light conditions”, a Citroën spokesman said.

Speaking to on Friday, Citroën SA marketing manager Ian Beales said that both 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 after the Paris launch", he said.

Beales added that the Xsara-based Picasso will remain unchanged until 2006.

Original article from Car