Citroen C6 3.0i V6 exclusive - The Verdict

The long-awaited C6, Citroën's latest shot at the big time, lives up to expectations but will it hold its value? It certainly deserves to, says David Wilkins

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Price: £35,845
Engine: 3.0-litre petrol
Performance: 0-62 mph in 9.4 seconds, 25.2 mpg
CO2: 266g/km
Worth considering: Audi A6, Honda Legend, Volvo S80

Citroën hasn't offered a big luxury car since the XM faded away a few years ago - until now, that is, with the introduction of the keenly anticipated C6, upon which our readers deliver their verdict this week.

That keen anticipation was based on two things. One was that car fans still have fond memories of the company's past large cars, in particular the famous DS, introduced in 1955, and the SM, an extravagantly complicated two-door coupé that had a Maserati engine stuffed beneath its broad, low-set bonnet.

The second was that the C6's styling had been seen - and warmly received - in the form of the C6 Lignage concept car - as long ago as 1999. Manufacturers often test the water with such an exercise before introducing a new model, but few take as long as Citroën did to turn the concept into a commercial product.

On the plus side, Citroën deserves some credit for preserving most of the adventurous features of the C6 Lignage's styling in the production car. This doesn't always happen - remember the fuss when the Range Stormer concept got toned down to become the Range Rover Sport?

So how does the design of the C6 stack up against that of previous big Citroëns? Very well, I think. No car today can possibly have the visual impact that the original DS did but I'd say that, for its time, the C6 is better than the XM and about as good as the CX, which inspired its unusual concave rear window.

The interior of the C6 is less adventurous. There are few of the wacky touches that some modern Citroëns still have - the steering wheel does not share the unusual stationary boss of that fitted to the C4, for example - but instead there is something else: an impressive solidity that none of the C6's predecessors enjoyed.

The C6 is great to drive, too. Low noise levels and the use of the latest version of Citroën's hydractive suspension mean that there are few less fatiguing cars in which to make long journeys than the C6.

One of the more intriguing things about this car is the question of where it fits into the market. It costs the same as larger-engined versions of BMW's 5 Series and Mercedes' E-Class, and it's pricier than the Peugeot 607, the only other big French saloon still sold in the UK now that Renault's Avantime and Vel Satis are no longer available.

That ambitious pricing inevitably raises the question of resale values, a traditional weakness of large French cars; the C6 certainly deserves to do better than usual but the used car market is an unforgiving place where perceptions change only slowly.

Nick Law, 52, book publisher, Haddenham, Cambs

USUAL CARS: HONDA ACCORD, LOTUS ELAN

Quintessentially French highlighted by the his and hers cigarette lighters in the back. Lots of leg room, ideal for Monsieur Chirac and his colleagues to enjoy. Quirky looks you either love or hate but beautifully finished inside and out. Best of all, this isn't a Voorsprung or similar; it's for someone who wants to drive something different. The petrol engine with the auto gearbox could have been more responsive at high speed and the handling was better in sport mode. Watch out, though, if you cross over a white road line without indicating, as a very French vibration ripples through your seat to stir you from any thought of slumber. A car to enjoy on a long journey.

John Murphy, 56, retired executive, Chelmsford, Essex

USUAL VEHICLES: HONDA ST1300 MOTORCYCLE, TOYOTA COROLLA VERSO, VAUXHALL ASTRA, DAIHATSU EFI CARAVANETTE

I was impressed by the uncluttered front-end, but I'm not so sure about the rear, it seems a bit out of proportion. But it's a good-looking vehicle with good road presence. The ride is fabulously comfortable and quiet, I'd love to have to drive a long way in one. The steering is delightfully light and the head-up display works well. The plethora of buttons on the dash take some getting used to. On motorways this car is wonderful - not so sure about the vibrating-seat lane-change warning though. Like most automatics, on normal roads there is a lack of oomph for quick overtaking.

John Lambert, 30, IT analyst, Evesham, Worcestershire

USUAL CARS: HONDA PRELUDE, CITROEN BX

From a distance the C6 looks imposing, distinctive and elegant. In other words, every inch a Citroën. Inside, it is unlike any previous Citroën, with classy design and good quality materials. The cabin is probably the C6's best feature, with damped lids for just about every cubby hole and storage space. The car impresses with its light steering, roll-free cornering, great ride and overall refinement. Aerodynamics are great: the C6 felt stable in strong winds. Citroën fans will be disappointed by the brakes; they are not proper Citroën brakes, with zero pedal travel and a propensity to catch out the unwary. Sadly the C6 feels less like a real Citroën as a result.

THE VERDICT

If you would like to take part, e-mail motoring@independent.co.uk or write to: The Verdict, Features Department, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, giving your address, phone number and details of the car, if any, you drive. For most cars, participants must be over 26 and have a clean licence.

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