The most impressive aspect of the Sportback is that it can only really attract serious criticism for one reason, and that is its almost total absence of joie de vivre.

Should that matter when a car is so capable, and when even the entry-level car in the most base specification feels like an item of real craftsmanship and quality? What’s a bit of fun when the car you're driving is so well suited to your life in heavy traffic or on the motorway, where the fact it doesn’t turn into corners with quite the same élan as a Mercedes A-Class is no less than an irrelevance? Are you really going to let that get between you and a car with class-leading performance and economy, bulletproof construction and all-round ability?

A great car which lacks dynamic sparkle

If you read Autocar, you just might. Were such tests matters of the purest objectivity, you’d now be looking at the best car in the class. On paper, its strengths are too varied and widespread to be countered. It is an immensely impressive car.

But it's also a rather dull one. Even on the boring roads, there’s no sparkle in the clinically faultless environment it provides. And on a decent road, you’re going to wonder why you didn’t stick to the motorway.

The result is a car we admire to our boots. Whether the fact that you’ll never see it as more than a quality machine tool to do an important job to a high standard should decide whether you should clutch it to your chest, or look elsewhere.

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