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NO one can accuse French car makers Citroen of producing bland, boring, unappealing passenger vehicles.

From the very earliest days in its history which started just after the end of the First World War, Citroen led the way with style and flair and in recent times has gone on to push the bar up to newer heights.

And that shows in the current range which now offers something for everyone.

Some examples are the C1, a sexy-looking city car which with it low CO2 emissions of 99g/km, helps do its bit for the environment.

Then there's the sassy C4 Picasso which helps set the standard in the MPV sector and the new ultra-stylish DS3 Cabrio which, with its silky-smooth reclining fabric roof, makes it a great addition to the ever-growing soft-top marketplace.

In early 2008, the French marque launched the C5, which quickly became a serious challenger in the important family-sized saloon car class.

Back then, the C5 came with the choice of two petrol and three diesel engines, and it was pretty hard to look past the tried-and-tested, yet powerful and ultra-refined, 173bhp 16-valve 2.2-litre HDi oilburner.

This sophisticated powerplant, which pumped out a whopping 273lb/ft of torque at just 2,000 revs, could propel the C5 from standing to 62mph in just 10 seconds and on to a top speed of nearly twice the UK legal limit.

Yet powerful as it was, it could still reward the driver with a fuel consumption figure well in excess of 40mpg on the combined cycle.

The flowing lines of the C5 gave the car a presence normally associated with offerings from more prestige and expensive brands and as one of the longest vehicles in its sector, the C5 really did scream class.

There's no doubt Citroen have made huge leaps forward in build quality in recent years and this fact certainly shown through in the C5.

The cabin interior just happened to be a masterpiece in design, with its aviation-inspired theme.

The ring-shaped needles run round the edge of three main dials containing the petrol gauge, rev counter and speedo, leaving the centres free to display information from the car's on-board computer, while Citroen's exclusive steering wheel allowed the wheel-mounted switches such as those for the cruise control and entertainment systems to remain in a fixed position.

Add to that top quality plastics and fabrics and you could immediately see why Citroen had such high hopes for the C5.

On the road the car could perform as good as anything in its class, but one thing which helped make the car really stand out was the lack of both wind and engine noise while on the hoof.

Thanks to multiple door seals, laminated side windows and an acoustic windscreen, the whispering C5 proved to be the quietest within its class.

Safety also features highly, with advance braking systems, traction control and seven airbags all fitted as standard. There was also an extra light which picks out the inside line of a bend for safer cornering.

For this family favourite you'll have to pay between £4,725 and £6,300 for a 2008 08-plate 2.2 HDi in VTR+ trim and from £7,200 to £9,000 for a similar 2010 model which also comes with the added bonus of an on-board sat nav system.

Shop around and you could find a 2008 08-plate 1.8-litre petrol-powered C5 in entry level SX trim for between £2,250 and £4,500, while a similar 2010 model on a 10-plate will probably set you back another £2,000, depending on condition and mileage, something of a bargain in anyone's language.

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