Fleet News

Citroen Xsara spearheads upper medium battle

NEXT year is the year of the lower medium sector car with a string of major launches from leading UK fleet manufacturers. First into the fray is Citroen with the Xsara - the replacement for the ZX - which received its world premiere at Frankfurt. Xsara will be followed by the Mk IV Volkswagen Golf early next year, the new Vauxhall Astra in the spring and the new Ford Escort a year from now.

However, with five-door versions of the Xsara going on sale in Britain on November 1 powered by 1.4, 1.6 and 1.8 petrol engines with a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes, to be followed on January 1 by 1.9 diesel and turbo diesel variants and in early spring by three-door sporty VTS and VTR and estate models, the French manufacturer has an opportunity for a head start.

It is against that background that pricing and specification for the Xsara, due to be announced next week, will be absolutely crucial if the manufacturer is to achieve its aim of being more successful with Xsara than it was with ZX in its heyday.

The new models are being launched with the lower medium sector across Europe more or less static at 1990 levels and currently accounting for 30.7% of all new car sales - 30.1% in Britain. However, diesel sales are particulaly strong in the sector and in Britain they account for around one-fifth of all lower medium sector sales.

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