Welcome to the new motoring section. Every issue we hope to have a researcher's review of a car that they have owned. Contributions welcome.
1998 Citroen Xsara 1.9 Turbo Diesel Executive
Citroen is a car company that has an enthusiastic following. Their cars are loved for the adventurous design, the innovations and the quirkiness of the French company. Cars like the DS, SM, CX, 2CV and Traction Avant have been ground breaking vehicles.
The other trait that Citroens are well known for is their unreliably.
My Xsara was the car that caused motoring journalists to morn the passing of the quirky Citroen. In most respects it was a very dull car, but in no way was it a bad car.
It certainly was a car that you had to be carefully to notice where you parked it. It just faded into a car park with an anonymity that previous Citroens never had. It's not a bad looking car, it is a smart, attractive car which got many admiring comments. However it was not a stand out car. A year or two after my car was made, Citroen redesigned the Xsara to make it a noticeable car, however they also made it look like a rather unattractive Pokemon.
Inside the Xsara is spacious and a nice place to be, the seats are comfy and all the controls are where you want them. Having a six-CD changer in the boot was a great addition, especially for long journeys.
The boot is large for the class, it certainly coped easily with a couple of large guitar amps.
Starting up, the Xsara rattles a bit, but it is very quiet for a diesel. The year after this was built, Citroen introduced the HDi engine which is a lot more economical, however the engine in the Xsara proved both to be fairly frugal. Put your foot down and it was a surprisingly quick car, but dramatically ran out of steam past 4000 revs.
The Xsara doesn't have the Citroen self-levelling suspension of the
larger models, but it would be hard to tell. The car floats along the road, absorbing all kinds of bumps and imperfections in the road. It handles neatly and has managed to survive trip over mountains in a blizzard tripping up.
It's able on long cruises. From Essex to Manchester three times in a day to Essex to the South of France, the Xsara effortlessly eats up motorway miles.
Reliability wise, the car was nearly faultless. It managed to come up
with a holed radiator which was changed under warrantee and some rather
temperamental wind screen washers, but otherwise was no hassle to own.
In the Xsara, Citroen made a car without the flair, quirks and passion of a traditional Citroen, however it is as comfortable and practical as any of their previous small cars. It is not a car that will excite anybody, and driving enthusiasts will avoid it, but for a car that will get you from one place to another cheaply and without tiring you out, the Citroen is exceptional.