The more I drove Citroen's C5, the more I liked it. Only two hiccups blighted its horizon...
I couldn't find a cuphholder, and it's not an incisive handler.
It took an expert to find the former - folded down within the armrest cubby - and as for the latter, if you prefer comfy ride to a firm performance-oriented suspension, you'll be happy anyway.
Certainly there's a lot to be happy about. This is a handsome car, with a few classy-looking design quirks such as that curved rear window arching between its subtle buttresses, and the way the badge is integrated into the grille. The cabin's as classy, yet this car undercuts Toyota's range-leading Aurion and is priced alongside the top-spec Falcon and Commodores. They're bigger, but thirstier and, of course, they look like their more plebeian brethren where this car is the base model.
Starter pack it may be but it's hardly bare-bones. The fixed-hub steering wheel allows better deployment for one of seven airbags; there's rear park assist, integrated rear blinds, air con, cruise control and much more.
Then there's the 100kW/340Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine mated to a six-speed auto with manual and sport protocol. Power is modest but there's plenty of torque to punch you off the line, combined with fuel-frugal performance. Citroen claims 7.1l/100km; my demanding daily drive with very little highway cruising netted 8.1. Smokey? Not with a particle filter to burn off the nasties as you drive.
And from there, back to the ride, which is plush, with more body roll than I like though handling remains predictable and controlled; I kept it in sport for the best handling-comfort compromise. Those who like to boast can point to the hydractive hydro-electronic suspension; tap a button to raise or lower the car for potholes or easy-loading.
One of NZ's best-kept secrets in the mid-size bracket, Citroen's C5 deserves more buyers - shame Kiwis are often too conservative to look outside the square.