THERE was a time when the role of ambassador was reserved for countries, UNICEF and Ferrero Rocher adverts.
In these days of rampant commercialism, though, it seems that any brand or product worth its salt must have an ‘ambassador' fighting its corner.
Citroen, for instance, announced in February that former England rugby international Austin Healey is to be the ambassador for its recently launched C5 Aircross SUV.
Bosses say the outspoken Scouser's personality embodies the brand's ‘Be different, feel good' spirit and that, as an active family man, he reflects the crossover's target customers.
The sceptic in me doubts that Healey will be travelling the country's motorways in a C5 Aircross on a regular basis - although I may be wrong. Either way, it's probably best to judge it on it's qualities as a family wagon rather than the profile of the celebrity charged with promoting it.
And in this regard there is much to like about this motor. It is a spacious, comfortable and practical car that is easy to live with and, in typical Citroen fashion, stands out from the crowd.
Standard SUV design cues such as chunky wheel arches, roof rails and raised ride height are supplemented by the distinctive ‘airbump' features along the flanks and a host of personalisation options.
Citroen claims a total of 30 exterior combinations are possible thanks to a choice of seven basic body colours combined with a contrasting black roof on higher spec versions and three colour packs which add striking inserts to the front bumper, airbumps and roof bars.
Three trim levels - Feel, Flair and Flair Plus - are available, powered by a range of PureTech petrol and BlueHDi diesel engines used across the PSA Group, some available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Our car featured the 130ps, 1.5-litre diesel paired with a six-speed manual transmission, which is a frugal and efficient combination, although noticeably less punchy in the bulky SUV than in some smaller models.
The power plant pulls well enough across a wide rev band and copes equally well with town traffic or motorway cruising but, with a 0-62mph time of 10.4 seconds, acceleration is steady rather than startling.
This, though, is in keeping with a focus on comfort in the C5 Aircross. If it's a sporty drive you want you'll need to look elsewhere - but if you want to float serenely along you'll be very happy.
Citroen has a long tradition of innovative suspensions and the latest is the progressive hydraulic cushions on this car, which keep passengers blissfully isolated from any imperfections in the road.
The supple set up does mean there's some body roll in corners but grip remains assured and the steering, although light, is direct and accurate.
As well as comfort, versatility is the other key strength of the C5 Aircross, which shares the innovative use of space seen in Citroen MPVs past and present.
Three individual rear seats can be separately folded flat or slid forwards and backwards, giving the opportunity to prioritise rear legroom or load space as required.
The boot includes an adjustable floor which, in its highest position, eliminates the awkward lip and provides a flat load bay when the rear seats are folded down. With the seats in their normal position there's a generous 580 litres of space but this rises to 720 litres with them slid forward and a cavernous 1,630 litres with all three folded down.
With such space and clever practicality it's difficult to imagine many family needs which the C5 Aircoss would be unable to meet.