The Citroen DS5 is the company's latest bid to revisit its avant-garde heyday of the 1950s, '60s and '70s. It certainly has the looks to tempt buyers away from the usual German suspects – the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class.
What's the 2012 Citroen DS5 like to drive?
Citroen expects the 161bhp 2.0-litre diesel model we're testing here will be the range's big seller, and with plenty of urgency from low revs and a smooth power delivery, it's easy to see why.
Refinement is superb, too; laminated side windows help keep occupants isolated from unwanted noise, and little engine vibration filters through to the cabin.
The news isn't all good, though. In fact, the way the DS5 drives is really quite bad, because the rock-hard suspension batters you relentlessly on any road that isn't silky smooth.
Such a stiff set-up invariably keeps the body upright on windy roads, but the DS5 doesn't feel at all sporty because the steering is so vague and lifeless.
What's the 2012 Citroen DS5 like inside?
The hatchback layout and square boot make it more practical than saloon rivals, and the cabin looks fantastic.
The range-topping DSport model we tested was slightly compromised by its three-part glass roof (which limits headroom) and by massaging front seats (which eat up rear legroom), but cheaper versions will be better in both respects.
There are one or two ergonomic faux-pas – the stereo controls are difficult to operate and parts of the instrument binnacle are hard to read – but the elevated driving position gives a good view of the road ahead, and the pedals aren't offset to the right like they are in most German rivals.
Entry-level DSign models come with air-conditioning, 17-inch alloys, cruise control and a multi-function steering wheel. However, you might be tempted to step up to the mid-spec DStyle model (£25,900), which adds leather seats, Bluetooth, climate control, rear parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers.
Should I buy one?
The vast majority of DS5s will end up in the hands of company car drivers, so the fact that resale values won't be great isn't a deal-breaker.
CO2 emissions aren't as low as they are in the cleanest BMW 3 Series, but the Citroen's lower list price puts company car tax bills on a par with a Mercedes C220 CDI. Leasing rates are also competitive.
In the end, though, we find it hard to recommend an executive car that's so uncomfortable. Citroen has missed a real trick by trying to make the DS5 sporty (it isn't), rather than focusing on what it used to be so famous for – ride comfort.
BMW 3 Series
What Car? says…
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
Up to the minute news from around the globe