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The master craft

One of the headline acts will be the French star of recent independent crash tests - the Citroen C6 - which has been acclaimed as the safest car yet tested by the New Car Assessment program.

The C6, set to go on sale in Australia by the middle of the year, is the fi rst car to earn the maximum four stars from Euro NCAP for its pedestrian safety rating, as well as a maximum fi ve stars for occupant protection.

It's also won an award as the world's most beautiful large sedan.

The C6 is offering two V6 engines - a 2.7-litre 150kW turbo diesel or a three-litre 155kW petrol engine; both drive the front wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Alfa Romeo's 156 range brought the Italian brand back to the fore in Australia with fl air and passion. It's replacement, the 159, continues in that tradition. It will offer more modern drivetrains - and even a V6 with Australian roots - when it hits the market mid year.

Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and the Alfa Romeo Styling Centre, the new car will come in both front and all-wheel drive versions, with the Q4 permanent four-wheel drive system using three diffs to split drive.

The Alfa Romeo 159 is the first of a whole family of new Alfas due over the next two years, including the Brera.

Lexus will be the fi rst car maker to offer a luxury hybrid model, with its GS petrol-electric hybrid offering plenty of performance with the thirst and emissions of a two-litre.

The Toyota-owned luxury brand also has a hybrid version of the RX SUV but the company's stand in Adelaide will feature the RX350 - which sees the looks get a nip and tuck, with a new more-powerful and more fuel-effi cient engine beneath its sculpted snout.

When Volkswagen went back to the factoryowned subsidiary, they announced high hopes of surpassing 20,000 units by now. They haven't got there yet but with more than 15,000 sales last year the German car maker is on the right track.

The prestige segment will see the Passat return with a vengeance this year, with direct-injection two-litre petrol and turbo-diesel engines, or a V6 petrol engine, on offer in either sedan or wagon body style.

The sales have had a boost from the new Golf and the newly-introduced (and keenly-priced) Jetta, giving the German car maker plenty of ammunition to work with.

Peugeot will give Adelaide show-goers a look at its new 407 Coupe, a sleek, powerful and attractive 2+2 that will be offered in petrol and diesel models on sale in Australia as the show opens.

The coupe will be offered with a three-litre 155kW/290Nm V6 petrol engine with either a sixspeed manual gearbox or new six-speed automatic transmission for $65,990 and $68,190 respectively.

The sleek Pug will also be offered with a 2.7-litre V6 HDi twin-turbo diesel offering 150Kw and 440Nm with a six-speed automatic gearbox as standard. It will be priced at $72,500.

Porsche chose to introduce the Australian motoring media to the Cayman S in the countryside surrounding Adelaide and its fi tting the German brand returns to the motor show this year with the same model.

The Cayman S is more than a Boxster with a roof, sharing inlet systems and some other nice bits with the 911.

The bulk of the DNA traces back to the midengined Boxster, which gives the two-seater Cayman the same basic powerplant - although slightly larger - plus the superb road manners and balance that has made the convertible a popular option among Porsche buyers.

Chrysler has returned to the Australian market with plenty of enthusiasm and some interesting product, the latest and most powerful example of that statement being the 300C sedan.

Soon to be followed by diesel and wagon variants, the V8 300C has serious visual impact and packs plenty of equipment to take on the big locally-built luxury sedans.

The Chrysler has the added attraction of displacement on demand, which drops fourcylinders from use to save fuel when light throttle loads are required.

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