Citroen C6

It's taken 50 years, but a goddess is returning to Citroen! In 1955, the French firm wowed crowds at the Paris Motor Show with the debut of its most luxurious, stylish and innovative car ever - the DS - a play on the French word for goddess. Its successor, the C6, will be just as remarkable when it goes on sale in March.

It's not as revolutionary as the DS, but the C6 is just as singular. Unique styling and a fabulously comfortable driving ex-perience set it apart from German prestige models. However, it's expensive, will depreciate heavily and lacks the quality of rivals in many areas. Still, for those keen to stand out, there are few more dramatic ways to do so.

It's taken 50 years, but a goddess is returning to Citroen! In 1955, the French firm wowed crowds at the Paris Motor Show with the debut of its most luxurious, stylish and innovative car ever - the DS - a play on the French word for goddess. Its successor, the C6, will be just as remarkable when it goes on sale in March.

Priced from £29,500 to £38,000, it's being pitched as an alternative to established German prestige models, and the company is banking on bold looks and some characteristic quirkiness to ensure success. But is that going to be enough to attract buyers?

Initially unveiled as the C6 Lignage concept at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show, the production version has barely changed - and is certainly dramatic. At nearly five metres long, and with a vast bonnet and canopy-style roof, the imposing C6 is light years away from German counterparts. Delightful details include a massive double-chevron grille at the front, tail-lights that stretch over the boot line and a rear spoiler which pops up at speed to aid stability.

So it's a shame that the cabin lacks the exterior's drama. While it's spacious and subtly designed, material quality falls below executive standards, with a console that looks as if it has come from a C4, plus dubious grained wood on the door bins and dashboard.

Still, the gadget count is high. A clever head-up display system is included on top-spec models, which allows the driver to view the car's speed and any sat-nav directions without looking away from the road. There's plenty of technology crammed in underneath the skin, too, with an electronically controlled front double wishbone and multi-link rear active suspension system, which is capable of lowering the C6 at speed and stiffening the car according to how it is being driven.

Engine choices are bang up-to-date, with two V6s available - a 208bhp 2.7-litre twin-turbodiesel and a 215bhp 3.0-litre petrol unit. We tested the latter, and on the move it's fabulously refined. Little noise of any kind penetrates the cabin, and few cars are as good at effortless high-speed cruising.

The six-speed gearbox is smooth, but has a reluctance to change down at times. And while the C6 feels every inch the big, luxurious Citroen, it's no sports saloon - the steering is light and the car is uninvolving to drive. The back is the best place to be - especially if you opt for the Lounge Pack, which brings two electric rear seats, with a button on the armrest allowing adjustment of the front passenger chair.

Bosses are hoping to sell 1,000 C6s in the UK, which seems ambitious to us. Depreciation will be horrific, and while the car will appeal to die-hard fans of the brand, it's unlikely to attract many executive buyers. However, there's nothing else like it on the road - and for that Citroen should be praised.

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