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Preview Citroen C6: Knocking the Germans for 6; Citroen are proving that the French can build impressive - and not to mention innovative - executive expresses too, writes BILL CAVEN.

Byline: BILL CAVEN

THERE is a theory that the French can't build luxury executive expresses. Small cars, yes. Even innovative vehicles that create new niche markets. But big ones? No, sorry. Those people who believe only the Germans have the knack of building big brutes oozing class and style may well have to change their opinion, though, once Citroen's new flagship, the eagerly-anticipated C6, shows up.

The sublime lines of the C6 won't grace our roads until early next year, but already Citroen have begun whetting appetites by revealing the first details of the impressive equipment specifications buyers can expect to enjoy.

The elegant newcomer builds on the heritage of the DS, CX, Light 15 and, of course, the original C6, which ruled the roost in the 1920s.

At the same time, the newcomer looks to the future by incorporating cutting-edge features and technologies.

Even though it's been a while since Citroen have had an executive contender, the new C6 proves that they can still woo the boardroom brigade.

The C6 effortlessly combines graceful, coupA-like styling with limo-style comfort and class.

It's pretty sophisticated, too, with features such as a head-up display, active bonnet, hydropneumatic suspension with electronically-controlled springing and damping and laminated side windows expected to be standard on most models.

The head-up display projects key driving information directly onto the windscreen, reducing the need for drivers to take their eyes off the road.

In the event of a pedestrian impact, the active bonnet automatically pops up to create a cushioning effect between the engine and the bonnet itself.

The C6 will be available in three trim levels. The entry-level model should come in at under pounds 30,000, the Lignage will start from around pounds 31,500 and the range-topping Exclusive will cost up to pounds 38,000.

Choice of powertrains will be limited to just two Euro IV compliant engines, but they're pretty impressive at that. Both the 215bhp three-litre V6 petrol and the twin turbo 2.7-litre V6 HDi diesel unit will be mated to automatic six-speed gearboxes. By pushing the wheels 2.9 metres apart and building the car on one of the longest wheelbases in the sector, Citroen's designers have provided one of the roomiest cabins in the class.

Standard equipment across the range will include nine airbags, electrically-operated front seats, an MP3-compatible audio system with colour screen, automatic headlamps and wipers, and dual-zone automatic air-conditioning

Factfile

Model: Citroen C6Engine: Three-litre V6 petrol/2.7-litre V6 diesel

Power: 215/208bhp Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles Price: From pounds 29,500 to pounds 38,000 (estimated)

On sale: Early 2006
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Aug 5, 2005
Words:436
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