Steering Column 09.10.09

Sharks’ fins and interesting floating roofs

Citroën cars have been distinctive before, but whether or not they’ve been the most attractive has always been open to debate.

That debate may be laid to rest soon though when the first of a new range of cars comes out. The DS line will be introduced to us through the DS3, a sharply designed little compact city car with a huge cache of style.

Early pictures show a bullet-like little three-door hatchback with a gaping front grille set into a sculpted nose, tapered Peugeot-like head­lamps, flared wheel-arches, and a couple of interesting design features known as a “floating roof” and a “shark-fin B-pillar”.

The floating roof is nothing of the sort of course – it’s just not joined to the main bodywork by any metalwork of the same colour. In fact it can be specified in a totally different contrasting colour if you fancy the look of it. The shark-fin B-pillar is a . . . well it looks like . . . how can I put this . . . well have a look at the pictures and tell me what you think.

Citroën will be providing the two HDi diesel engines for the car which turn out 90 or 110bhp, but it’s worked with BMW to develop the three petrol engines that turn out 95, 120 or 150bhp.

There are few other details yet available but more will become clear as we approach next spring when the DS3 goes on sale in the UK.

New Astra power

Vauxhall has announced details of the power plants that will haul its new Astra family hatchback down the roads of Europe.

There will be eight engines on the options list, some petrol and some diesel, but the company says all of them are more efficient and less polluting than the engines they replace.

For instance, the all new 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine will turn out 140bhp – exactly the same as the outgoing normally aspirated 1.8-litre engine despite having lower emissions and 15 per cent more torque.

There will also be an un-blown, normally aspirated 1.4 and two 1.6-litre petrol engines (one with a turbo) offering 115 or 180bhp.

As for diesel engines we’re looking at a 1.3, 1.7 and two-litre units with power ratings between 95 and 160hp.

New California

Volkswagen’s bringing out new versions of its Caravelle people carrier and California campervan and it’s just released a few details ahead of the unveiling in Frankfurt next month.

The two big-box vehicles have, we’re told, lower emissions, a 10 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and the latest technology, comfort and safety features.

New headlamps and rear light clusters, style changes to the internal gubbins and a rake of new safety, security, navigation and entertainment technology is all very nice, but there’s still no disguising the basic truth that they’re both big derivations of a van.

There will be a 4MOTION version of the California introduced around this time next year and I have to say I’m attracted by the idea of a VW camper van with four-wheel drive. We’ll find out things like prices and specs for the diesel and petrol engines nearer the time.

Mike Grundon


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