The five-star C5
Citroen has rediscovered its penchant for elan, says Neil Lyndon
The most beautiful car of the year (so far) is about to arrive. Citroen has announced that its delectable C5 saloon will go on sale in the UK from April 2.
Today's car manufacturers do not generally go in for beauty - perhaps because they sense that unadorned, functional necessity has become the only excuse for owning a car.
But Citroen always used to make cars of such extraordinary aesthetic originality and technical brio that they remain desirable decades after they were built. The Traction Avant of the 1930s and 1940s, the DS of the Fifties and Sixties and the Citroen-Maserati of the Seventies all turned heads and caused jaws to drop when they were first seen.
Citroen lost this appealing talent in the last decade when their Saxos, Xantias and Xsaras were as lowering to look at as their names were to pronounce. However, they seem to have been recovering the knack - starting with the raffishly streamlined 2005 C6 saloon which is big enough in the back seats for Presidential nooky. Now they are replacing the 2001 C5 of unrelieved dreariness with a car that rivals the front-end of the C6 for elegance, while conveying a hint of Teutonic robustness in the resolution of its rear-end.
The best thing that could be said about recent Citroens was that they were cheap. We don't yet know the price of the new C5, but Citroen does seem to be following Renault in attempting to improve their cars' deplorable record for unreliability and shoddy build quality. If the C5's construction were as good as its looks, Citroen might have produced a lasting treasure.
It won't, however, be the most beautiful car around for very long. The C5 Tourer (estate car version) is due to arrive in the summer. And it looks even lovelier. ·
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