Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

Three engines are available in the Magentis but it's the 2.0-litre CRDi diesel with 140bhp which is the best choice. It pulls strongly from low revs and although it's not particularly quiet on start-up, feels refined when cruising. Economy is good too with an average of 47mpg plus the diesel is the only engine to come with a six-speed gearbox - although like the other manual gearboxes, it's not very slick.

The petrol choices include a 2.0-litre and a 2.7-litre V6. The smaller engine isn't bad - it covers the 0-62mph benchmark in 10.2 seconds (compared to 10.4 in the diesel) and returns 37mpg. The V6 is best avoided though. It only comes with an automatic gearbox and returns just 31mpg while CO2 emissions are high.

The Magentis is easy to drive but not particularly enjoyable or involving. A snappy clutch on the manual models, combined with a slack gear change makes town driving tiring. And on more demanding roads, the Magentis fails to shine with excessive roll in corners, a lack of grip at the front and vague, lifeless steering. It rarely inspires confidence and although the brakes are effective they're quite sudden, so the car pitches and dives when stopping quickly.

On the plus side LS models come with traction control and a stability control system to help correct the car's behaviour should it skid. Facelifted models from 2009 are a big improvement and feel much stiffer and more surefooted, with less roll in bends. It's still not up to the standards of the best saloons, but the steering now has more weight and less propensity to self-centre.