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Citroen score a hit with family affair; BILL CAVEN is well impressed with a people carrier that just oozes French flair.

Byline: Bill Caven

Roadtest: Citroen C8

CITROEN are hoping the number is well and truly up for the opposition in the people carrier stakes.

The French giant have dabbled in grabbing a slice of the action in this segment in the past. But they were more interested in securing business further down the scale than transporting extended families.

Now Citroen are about to change all that with more than a little help from their friends.

Horrendous costs in research and developing cars have forced many of the major players to join forces and split the costs.

Among the partnerships that have been formed as a result has been Citroen becoming best mates with fellow countrymen Peugeot and the Italian stable Fiat.

Their early venture was to come up with a platform for an MPV, something none of them had enjoyed success with in the past.

But that's all about to change and the real winner on this occasion is the customer.

The arrival of the new C8, Fiat Ulysse and Peugeot 807 trio is providing a real challenge to the more established choices, such as the Ford Galaxy, Chrysler Voyager and VW Sharan.

There is, of course, the danger in forming such collaborations that they will all look the same. But Citroen designers were acutely aware of such pitfalls and have ensured that once you C8 - you'll not forget it.

As family transporters go, the French fancy is an attractive machine and that is not something you can normally say about an MPV.

Another serious criticism of people carriers in the past was where to put the luggage.

Okay, you've got seven or eight seats, but the car companies didn't seem to appreciate that they often had the same number of suitcases and bags.

Citroen have recognised this and ensured that with the simple removal of the rear seats you immediately get an expansive boot.

YET the real beauty of the C8 is that you can stretch out in the cavernous cabin and soak up its creature comforts.

Sticking the gearstick into the centre console frees up a lot of space at the front and the instrument cluster is also housed in the centre giving you additional space along the dashboard.

The newcomer benefits also from two new engines - a 160bhp 16-valve 2.2-litre petrol and a 2.2-litre Hdi oil burner.

The smart money is on the latter, as you should easily be able to clock up around 40 miles to the gallon.

With the onslaught of summer holidays just round the corner and the inevitable demand for people carriers, Citroen Glasgow are gearing up well in advance.

One of only six dealerships in the UK owned by Citroen, the company are now playing the name game. They will soon be known as Citroen Retail World, although the management insist that the change will not reflect on the service they provide.

Just as well, as the new C8 is sure to become a firm family favourite in the coming months.

factfile

Model: Citroen C8

Engine: 2.2-litre petrol, 2.2-litre diesel

Power: 160bhp and 232bhp respectively

Top speed: 122mph, 113mph

0-60mph: 11.6 seconds, 13.6 seconds

Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles

Price: pounds 19,958, pounds 19,270

Available: Now
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:May 2, 2003
Words:543
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