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HDi-de high class.

UNLESS you happen to be Dallas king JR Ewing or an Arab sheik, it's pretty safe to assume you will be viewing the prospect of a hike in fuel costs with relish.

Sadly, pushing up prices at the pumps has become increasingly commonplace in recent months as already hard- pressed motorists are forced yet again to dig deeper.

The never-ending rise in petrol prices has naturally prompted motorists and car makers to look at ways of reducing motoring outgoings.

Many drivers are now opting for the more fuel-efficient diesel engines rather than petrol.

Car companies have made great strides in repackaging the concept of diesel power to such an extent that they are now becoming quite fashionable.

This is largely due to the work that has gone into ensuring the new breed of turbo- diesels no longer boast the personality of a battery hen.

Enormous leaps have been made by motor manufacturers in producing diesel engines which offer the same performance levels as the petrol equivalents, while putting the squeeze on costs.

The latest to push back the boundaries are Citroen, with the introduction of their new turbo-charged diesel.

The two-litre HDi engine brings all the technologically advanced common rail fuel injection system within reach of everyday motorists.

The improved set-up is available on both Claudia Schiffer's cheeky mate, the Xsara, and the rep-special, the Xantia.

The French giants have used their undoubted expertise in this field to produce cars that offer improvements in every crucial area.

Economy is greatly enhanced, noise levels are down, refinement is up, harmful emissions at their lowest and, more importantly, kick-down improved.

More refreshingly, perhaps, Citroen haven't punished car buyers for the joy of owning such motoring pleasure by whacking it on the final bill.

In financial terms, the Xsara version makes serious sense.

Put a gallon of diesel in the lively hatchback and you can travel more than 50 miles in normal motoring. Citroen calculate that this works out at a fraction over six pence a mile.

Compare this with a similarly-powered petrol car and the chances are you won't even make it to 40 miles. Even then, it will have cost you more than eight pence a mile.

But this remarkable economy is not achieved at the expense of performance. Far from it, in fact. There is exceptional flexibility, with maximum torque - or pulling power - to keep you well chuffed in the fast lane.

It is even possible to accelerate seamlessly from 25mph to more than 100mph in fourth.

With a top speed of 112mph, the Xsara is capable of sprinting from 0- 62mph in just more than 11 seconds.

THE HDi system is available in both hatchback and estate guises, with the further choice of four trim levels.

Greater emphasis has also been placed on enhancing the Xsara's safety and security features. Standard spec now includes ABS brakes, four airbags, height- adjustable front seat belts, and energy-absorbing side impact protection.

On-the-road prices are competitively pitched at pounds 13,580 for the base model, yet it still comes with a decent level of toys including power-assisted steering, remote central locking with deadlocks, and fingertip controls for the stereo sound system.

For an extra pounds 700, you can obtain electric front windows, powered door mirror, electric sunroof and front fog lights.

Citroen would appear to have played a trump card in their battle to convince more drivers to make the switch.

The once-justifiable argument of loss of performance with the diesel swayed many would- be buyers, but the scene is slowly but surely changing as newer, more refined engines are drawing more drivers than ever into the fast lane.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Caven, Bill
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Aug 27, 1999
Words:606
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