"Back in 1955, CitroŽn's DS was the toast of Paris Motor Show, hailed by both intellectuals and the buying public alike as the nearest thing to an automotive orgasm. One of few cars you can safely drive on three wheels, the DS was all about myth and legend Ė the story goes that Charles de Gaulle's neck was saved by its hydropneumatic suspension, which automatically compensated for a tyre shredded by a sniper's bullet. The DS's legacy was bequeathed to the 1974 CX, a car so comfortable FranÁois Mitterrand clung to his fleet of presidential models long after production had ceased.

The new C6 has all its forebears' strengths and more. The design, which sticks faithfully to the elegant Lignage concept exhibited at Geneva in 1999, reveals a grand, five-door limousine, with bodywork that swoops seductively, culminating in a concave rear screen. Inside are quirky details such as a heads-up display system that projects speed and navigation information onto the windscreen, chrome detailing and frameless doors. And, while that fiendishly complex liquid suspension is no more, big CitroŽns still ride like no other. Probably, the C6 will remain a niche pursuit, too eccentric for the company car buyer and not bearing the right badge for the die-hard automotive snob.

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But let them miss the point; this handsome saloon will be a rare yet wondrous sight, deliberately provocative and just a little bit aloof Ė the kind of car Jacques Chirac should use to give GWB a lift back to the airport.

CitroŽn C6, available from autumn 2005, from approximately £30,000, www.citroŽn.com "