On The Road: Don't listen to the Mad Men

The uninspired makers of the Citroen C5 have served us up a car we don't really need – but given the power of advertising, their creative gurus will no doubt convince some of us that we can't live without it

Most of the world's ills have a direct causal relationship with the desperate, warped minds of advertising creatives.

The global credit crunch was a result of their relentless campaigns to get us to buy things we can't afford (not only that, but it turns out, those police sunglasses don't make me look like George Clooney, which I thought was, like, the whole deal).

Global warming is, we are told, caused entirely by SUVs, which we never needed but were brainwashed – by guess who? – into thinking were an essential accoutrement for the modern urban life.

Advertisers (obviously not those who pay to appear in The Independent on Sunday; what, do you think I'm stupid?) cheapen our existence with their exploitation of women, casual use of swearing and huge billboards featuring the mammoth cabbage-patch-doll face of Gordon Ramsay. Also, I don't care to be reminded of how fat, old and bald I am, thank you very much.

And then there was that recent Citroë*C5 ad', which stoked the fires of racial prejudice with its unpleasant German stereotypes. There are few less edifying sights than ad' men trying to be funny, although the French trying to build an executive saloon run it a close second. The problem is not that it's a bad car (I actually liked it: it's safe and rides with typical French aloofness), nor that it will be about as popular outside of France as andouillette – they have sold roughly 18 C6s beyond the Périphérique, but each has gladdened the heart of those blessed to have seen it glide by. It is more that this sector is already saturated with excellent cars, not least in the "at least it's not German" market whose carcass is already being chewed over by Honda, Volvo, Ford, VW and Saab. Meanwhile, by blatantly stealing Audi's and BMW's design cues, Citroë*has sacrificed a good deal of its dignity.

If the PSA group wasn't suffering from typically Gallic corporate constipation – the same congenital timidity that prevented them from producing SUVs until this year, at the very instant the tide turned against them – it would give up making cars like the C5 and stick to building more innovative MPVs and small cars. Besides, the three-box saloon is essentially unchanged since the dawn of the Ford Consul, which leaves the C5 looking like some kind of compacted, albeit quite stylish, turd.

Yet those rascally advertising men will doubtless already have convinced a few hundred private individuals to part with their money in exchange for one. How do they sleep?

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