Citroen has unveiled its new small-to-medium hatchback, which replaces the popular, good-to-drive but dull-looking ZX. Called the Xsara, it is a handsome if totally conventional five- and three-door hatchback. Those looking for a resurrection of bold Citroen styling will be disappointed.

The car has been designed by a 29-year-old Englishman, Giles Taylor. The Xsara was his first job. "I'd just left the Royal College of Art in London, and was head-hunted by Citroen in Paris," he says. "When I arrived, work had just begun on the Xsara programme. I was one of a number of designers who did sketches. Mine was the look that was adopted."

Taylor then oversaw the car's exterior styling through to production. He says he used the bigger Xantia as his role model. This Xantia look - with its pointed nose, half-notch hatchback tail and wide rear - is likely to be the new corporate style of Citroen. The cabin, which is also highly conservative, is the work of the Italian design house Bertone. The Xsara will get its first public airing at the Frankfurt Show in September. It goes on sale in Britain in November. Gavin Green

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