C segment midsize models are the second most important sector here in Brazil (380,000 units yearly) and account for about 10% of the market for cars and light commercials.

They also have the least removal of technology and equipment compared to western markets. Upper segments are 100% imported products.

Saloons in this segment have climbed from 38% to 50% penetration and tend to overshadow the hatchbacks. And competition is fierce amongst the 10 models. The new player on the block is Citroen C4 Pallas replacement - the C4 Lounge.

Built in El Palomar, Argentina, on the same production line as the Peugeot 408, the C4 Lounge has shrunk 6.2in in overall length, but is 0.78in wider and retains the optimum 106.7in wheelbase. Although boot volume has diminished 12% to 15.9 cu ft, cabin room excels.

At China's request, where it is already on sale (from 23 September in Brazil), the rear seat back rest angle was changed to 29 degrees from 26 degrees, thus improving comfort, confirmed on longer runs in the Mendoza, Argentina region, where the media launch took place.

A soft plastic-lined dashboard was one measure for increased customer perceivable quality. Improved ride quietness through the use of an acoustic windscreen and attention to door seals met the same aim.

The top Exclusive version has a 7in multimedia screen (not the tactile kind), GPS navigation, blind spot warning (a Mercosur-produced car first), rear camera and customisable instrument cluster.

Together with the regular four cylinder, two litre 149bhp flex-fuel engine (on ethanol), the 1.6-litre, BMW-designed 162.7bhp and 177.2- lb ft at 1,400 rpm engine is offered for the more expensive option. A new Aisin, six-speed automatic gearbox (two thirds of sales) works flawlessly, better yet in sport mode.

Prices range from BRL59,990/US$25,000 to BRL81,290/US$33.900.