Capitalizing on their participation in rally racing has emerged as the marketing ploy du jour for carmakers. Far be it for us to complain when that nets us exciting new hot models from Japanese manufacturers like Subaru and Mitsubishi, but their French compatriots just don't seem to know how to translate racing prowess to road cars. Case in point, the all-show-no-go "by LOEB" Special Series hatchbacks from Citroen.

Parent company PSA says it's released the special editions to honor their all-star driver Sebastien Loeb, but this strikes us as just as big a disgrace to an esteemed racing name as the (thankfully departed) Fiat Stilo Michael Schumacher Edition.

The "special" editions start with the C4 coupe and C2, but badge engineers didn't go anywhere near the engine bay. All the changes are purely cosmetic. According to Citroen, "The C4 by LOEB offers drivers a harmonious blend of sporting passion and day-to-day driving pleasure." That should tip you off, because racing beasts like the Subie STi and Mitsu Evo are anything but harmonious.

Both the C2 and C4 by LOEB are available (overseas only, thankfully) in red or black. They both get rear spoilers, upgraded wheels and special badging to let everyone know the driver's a poser. Inside surfaces are all black with red trim: the steering wheel and shift knobs are black leather with red top-stitching, the seats are black fabric with red trim, little red chevrons are embroidered all over the place, and are complimented by select aluminum accents.

Poor Sebastien. You'd think after winning the WRC title three times, his name would be gracing something with a bit more bite.

Glutton for punishment? Follow the jump for the press release and more images.

[Source: PSA Peugeot Citroen]

Press Release
Citroen C2 & C4 "by LOEB" Special Series

Citroën is launching two new special series models with one, unique signature, the C2 and C4 "by LOEB". Marking Citroën's return to the World Rally Championship in 2007, the special series lends a new dimension to the personality of both vehicles. The C2 by LOEB and C4 by LOEB both have a strong sporty attitude and stand apart with their attractive trim. Based on the C2 and C4 Coupé models, their difference lies in special equipment and the renown of the "by LOEB" label. The "by LOEB" special series is part of the Marque's ambitious range renewal policy, but first and foremost enables Citroën to honour and thank the three-time WRC champion, in 2004, 2005 and 2006, whose numerous triumphs serve to enhance the brand's image.
C4 by LOEB

Based on the C4 Coupé, the C4 by LOEB, with its sharp, stand-out styling, is a product of Citroën's desire to develop a new line of dynamic vehicles echoing its participation in the World Rally Championship. The C4 by LOEB offers drivers a harmonious blend of sporting passion and day-to-day driving pleasure.

The C4 by LOEB is available with two body colours: Aden red, the official colour of Citroën Sport, and Obsidien black. Graced with bold and elegant lines, this remarkably aerodynamic vehicle boasts an athletic character reinforced by a rear spoiler.

And to further emphasise its singular nature, the vehicle sports generously sized 17?inch Resolfen wheels, in white or, if preferred, Metallure grey, that ensure peerless roadholding whatever the engine version.

Along with body-coloured wing mirrors, each C4 by LOEB features a unique, numbered signature.

The inside like the outside has a clean, high-tech look that is both sporty and dynamic.

The red mesh and alcantara seats are enhanced with topstitching, while the leather front headrests are adorned with embroidered red chevrons.

The door panels are covered in special trim featuring a leather medallion with red topstitching.

Also in leather is the central armrest, decorated with red stitching as is the steering wheel, offering a comfortable, reassuring driving position.

To step up the sporty vibe, the C4 by LOEB is equipped with an aluminium pedal set and, apart from on the 138 bhp HDi DPFS, gear lever knob and comes with metallic air vents, gear lever base and ashtray.

Adding to the wealth of personalised features, the C4 by LOEB cabin also includes mistral colour-coded protective mats with red braid and special Citroën embroidery. The C4 by LOEB is fitted as standard with cruise control and a speed limiter for a serene driving experience.

The C4 by LOEB adds the pleasure of driving a customised and exclusive vehicle to the recognised qualities of the C4 – comfort, safety and vitality.

C4 by LOEB is available with the 110 bhp 1.6i 16V, 143 bhp 2.0i 16V and 180 bhp 2.0i 16V petrol engines and the 5-speed 110 bhp HDi, 5-speed 110 bhp HDi DPFS and 6-speed 138 bhp HDi DPFS diesels.

C2 by LOEB

With its big personality, the C2 was a natural choice to accompany the C4 by LOEB. Based on the VTR/VTS trim levels, the charismatic C2 by LOEB fuses forceful, bold lines with elegant, harmonious styling.

The C2 by LOEB looks great in both colours on offer: elegant and restrained in Onyx black or sporty and seductive in Aden red. Like its C4 by LOEB sister, the vehicle is fitted with a coloured spoiler that boosts its hot-hatch persona and aerodynamics. It features special wing mirrors with Alu grey or Aden red housings, according to the body colour, while 16-inch Suzuka or Guépard alloy wheels pump up the racer appeal with aggressively-styled flared spokes.

The C2 is equipped with a "by LOEB" sticker on the doors and tailgate and a numbered sticker on the driver's door only.

The high-tech interior of the C2 by LOEB perfectly matches its sporty lines, with a harmonious blend of chrome, aluminium, black material and red mesh for stylish, original appeal. The black-and-red seats are topped with matching headrests featuring embroidered chevrons on the back. Drivers benefit from a leather steering wheel with red topstitching, chrome-lined dials, and racing-style aluminium pedals (for manual versions) and gear lever knob.

The driver's seat is height-adjustable for the best possible driving position.

Equipped with the 125 bhp 1.6i 16V engine, the C2 by LOEB comes with 100% switchable ESP. C2 by LOEB ships with the 110 bhp 1.6i 16V SensoDrive and 5-speed 125 bhp 1.6i 16V petrol engines.