Smooth operator

* Built like a German car * Impressive looks to match, too * Target price 23,435...

Smooth operator

Smooth operator
The visual appeal isn't just external. The interior is particularly stylish and inviting. Even better, the front seats of our Exclusive model were supremely comfortable thanks to their excellent shape, size and range of adjustment. It did, though, take me a while to get used to the ridge running across the rear of the seat cushion.

I was delighted by a driving position free of disruptive foibles such as offset pedals. I also liked the fixed steering wheel boss that keeps the controls conveniently in the same place rather than turning with the steering wheel.

The interior isn't perfect, though. There isn't enough storage space for small items or drinks bottles. The glovebox and door pockets are too small, and although there is one bottle holder underneath the central armrest, it's inconveniently placed. It'd be nice to have some storage under the boot floor, too.

Parking mirrors didn't rise up quickly enough as you moved offI liked the gutsy power and smooth refinement of the 2.7-litre V6 turbodiesel engine, which always worked well with the responsive six-speed automatic gearbox. However, if you choose a fairly large V6 like this, and enjoy its brisk acceleration, there's a penalty to pay: motorway runs gave me just over 31mpg, but town commuting dropped my overall average to 26.9mpg.

With its suspension biased toward a smooth ride and steering with little feel, the C5 doesn't handle as deftly as many of its rivals. It has masses of grip, though, so unless you're looking for a sporty-feeling drive, you'll probably be happy to enjoy its relaxed approach.

Just as Citroen pioneered hydraulic self-levelling suspension, so too (with the DS in the 1960s) it showed drivers how helpful swivelling headlights could be. I'd thought the C5's high-powered swivelling xenon lights would be special and indeed they were, faithfully tracking the road with the movement of the steering wheel. Lights this good spoil you for anything else.