If Renault had come out with another Safrane, it is unlikely that they would sell any more cars in the UK than their current estimated maximum of 3,000 a year. However, if your car's looks says something about the person behind the wheel, then passers-by could be forgiven for thinking the driver is from another planet.
Looks aside, having covered more than 1,000 miles in the Vel Satis since the last update, the car is becoming the favoured choice of transport for long journeys, and on a motorway run with a steady right foot, the car can return a significant improvement on the official fuel consumption figure.
On a recent weekend excursion from Lincolnshire to South Wales and back, via North Wales, the Vel Satis returned a pleasing 37mpg, although this is some way off the trip computer's optimistic 42.8mpg.
The engine is beginning to settle down and provides relaxed progress, although it comes up with a surprising turn of speed when required. The split seatback provides greater seat adjustment than many other cars but I was disappointed with the lack of lumbar support and the inability to tilt the seat cushion back.
The hatchback configuration and standard folding rear seats ensures the Renault is a versatile load carrier and the interior design makes it a home away from home – if only my home were as stylish as the Vel Satis.
I don't believe the audio system sounds as good as it looks, although this point was disputed by my colleague Mike Roberts, who is now the driver of the Vel Satis and is struggling to come to terms with its looks.
Roberts (a 'treble' man) believes the audio system is a fine piece of kit, but as a 'bass' man I find a nasty vibration reverberates around the cabin. On the subject of vibrations, the tranquillity of a late-night trip to Heathrow airport revealed an annoying buzz from the courtesy light fitting.
Otherwise the Vel Satis has proved to be an impeccable driving companion. There is also good news on the residual value front. CAP has now improved this model by one percentage point to 28% and this has had a knock-on effect on its contract hire rate, with a £30 per month improvement. This has to be good news for any company brave enough to put their faith in the Vel Satis.
Company car tax bill 2002 (40% taxpayer): £313 per month