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CitroŽn C6 2.7HDi V6 Exclusive Automatic test 

The directional headlights work superbly, as does the park assist – “parking by ear” acquires a totally new meaning; one that causes no damage to any of the vehicles involved…  The brakes work very effectively and pedal pressure is commendably light but with the dropping of the high pressure hydraulic brake operation comes a long pedal movement.  Again this is something one would get used to and would require no adjustment whatever if one were coming to the C6 from a German car.

So how does the C6 stack up against its predecessors?  It is much more refined than the XM which, in turn was more refined than the CX.  It is also much more clever a design than the XM.  It is less revolutionary than any of its predecessors but only because everyone else is using electronics to achieve similarly clever things.  In terms of the ride comfort/handling dichotomy it is probably better than any of its predecessors – even if it was caught out by sleeping policemen in a way that my XM would not be.

And how does it compare with its peers?  Gavin Green wrote recently in Car, “…BMW 5s, the Benz Es, the Audi A6s, and their ilk – are exciting ‘sports’ saloons. They have big low-profile tyres, low ground clearance, firm suspension, powerful engines. They are aggressively styled – Bill Bryson once labelled it the ‘f**k you school of design’. Many are capable of 140mph-plus. They ply motorways fast and furiously, their big tyres humming on the tarmac, their bodies bob and jolt on the bumps before they quickly hunker down to their low and aggressive stance.”  The C6 is the antithesis of this school of design.  If it is less a “driver’s machine” than the German cars, it will cosset you and ensure that you arrive at your destination feeling less stressed than you would were you to have taken the Teutonic route.  And if you can afford to employ a chauffeur you will enjoy long distance travel that can probably only be matched by a private yacht or ‘plane.  And perhaps that’s why the car was built – to save French diplomats and government ministers from the indignity of being driven around in German cars…

I was very impressed by this car.  So were my younger two children who pronounced it “cool”.  My oldest son thinks it is uncool to enthuse about cars but even he conceded it was impressive.  It clearly draws on its heritage and I doubt that many CitroŽn enthusiasts would be disappointed.  Whether it will be seen as a viable alternative to the German triumvirate is a moot point.  Part of its problem will be one of image. CitroŽn do cheap and cheerful cars. CitroŽn no longer does weird and whacky – that part of its reputation is distant history.  As is its reputation for building this sort of car – an expensive, superbly comfortable Grande RoutiŤre capable of covering huge distances quickly, comfortably, safely and effortlessly. CitroŽn’s very success with cars like the Saxo, C1, C2 and C3 will probably operate against the C6; more is the pity.

© Julian Marsh/CitroŽnŽt 2007