Citroën XM

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Citroën XM
Manufacturer Citroën (PSA Group)
Production 1989–2000
Predecessor Citroën CX
Successor Citroën C6
Class Executive car
Body style 5-door hatchback
5-door station wagon
Layout FF layout
Engine 2.0L I4
2.0L I4 16 valve
2.0L I4 Turbocharged
3.0L V6 12 valve
3.0L V6 24 valve
2.9L V6 24 valve
2.1L I4 Diesel 12 valve
2.1L I4 Turbodiesel 12 valve
2.5L I4 Turbodiesel 12 valve
Wheelbase hatchback:2,850 mm (112.2 in)
station wagon:2,850 mm (112.2 in)
Length hatchback:4,708 mm (185.4 in)
station wagon:4,963 mm (195.4 in)
1998–2000 station wagon: 4,950 mm (194.9 in)
Width hatchback:1,793 mm (70.6 in)
station wagon:1,794 mm (70.6 in)
Height 1,392 mm (54.8 in) (most Berline models); some turbo models 1,385 mm (54.5 in); 1,466 mm (57.7 in) (1998 V6 Break)
Curb weight 1,310 kg (2,888 lb)-1,550 kg (3,417 lb)
Related Peugeot 605[1]
Designer Bertone

The Citroën XM is an executive car that was produced by the French automaker Citroën between 1989 and 2000. Citroën sold 333,775 XMs during the model's 11 years of production. The XM was voted 1990 European Car of the Year.



Launched on 23 May 1989,[2] the XM was the modern iteration of the Big Citroën, a replacement for the Citroën CX. It was intended to compete against vehicles like the Audi 100 and BMW´s 5-series in a sector that accounted for 14.2% of the European market. The initial reception was positive. The XM won the prestigious European Car of the Year award for 1990 (gaining almost twice as many votes as the second, the Mercedes-Benz SL)[3] and went on to win a further 14 awards that year.[4] The anticipated annual sales were in the order of 150,000 units in Europe. Sales never reached this level for a variety of reasons: the market for large cars made by mainstream manufacters was in decline as customers opted for products from manufacturers such as BMW and Mercedes which were viewed as being more prestigious; in parallel customers were placing a higher priority on speed and handling rather than ride comfort which was Citroen´s specialty; the XM was underdeveloped at launch which resulted in reliability problems; the vehicle as designed was inconsistent in its abilities; its styling was controversial; and most subjective of all was the matter of the XM not living up to the expectations created by its forerunner the Citroen DS, despite that car having been launched in an era of national markets, of different demands and standards, an era when there was more scope for large advances in engineering and design than were possible in 1989.

The angular, dart-like Bertone design was a development of Gandini's Citroën BX concept. It was a longer car with a longer, inclined nose, more refined details and with headlamps that were very much slimmer than the norm (Gandini´s own XM proposal was rejected as looking to much like an Opel). Design critic Jonathan Meades described the XM as the last gothic car, as quoted by Stephen Bayley in "Design Made Visible" (2007).[5]

File:Citroen XM-Rear.jpg
1994–2000 Citroën XM (suspension fully lowered)
File:1994-2000 Citroën XM hatchback 01.jpg
1994–2000 Citroën XM (Australia)

There were many advances, most apparently designed to counteract the main criticisms of its predecessor. The CX leaned in corners, so the XM had active electronic management of the suspension; the CX rusted, so the XM had a partially-galvanised body shell (most surviving XMs have very little corrosion); the CX was underpowered, so the XM offered the option of a 3.0 L V6 engine – the first in a Citroën since the Maserati-engined SM of 1970. Ventilation was markedly more effective in the XM. Rear accommodation in the XM was improved over the CX in both width, legroom and height. In particular the rear passengers were seated higher than those in the front in order to afford a good view out, important for a vehicle which would operate in French government service.[6]

The XM shared a floorpan with the Peugeot 605, and the two models fared similarly in both teething problems and market acceptance. Unlike the 605 sedan design, the XM was a liftback design - a feature thought to be desirable in certain European markets.

The XM inherited a loyal global customer base of executive class customers and a clear brand image, but did not enjoy the commercial success and iconic status of its predecessors, the CX and the DS, which both raised the bar of automotive performance for other manufacturers. Export markets experienced lower sales from the outset, partly due to the XM´s pricing. The least expensive XM was nearly 50% more expensive at the time of launch than the corresponding CX. Whilst strong at first[7] home market sales also declined, after the mechanical issues of the first few model years became known. Unfortunately it suffered from defective electrical connectors, due to excessive economies on the components, since the parent company was in financial difficulty at the time of the design of the XM.[8] Between 1980 and 1984 the company lost $1.5 billion.

In mid 1994 the XM was revised in order to improve competitiveness.[9] All models were fitted with driver´s airbag (signalling the end of the single spoke steering wheel), belt-pretensioners, a redesigned dashboard and upper door casings. The suspension was redesigned to reduce roll, pitch and dive. Most noticeable was the adoption of a passive rear-steering system similar to that on the Citroen Xantia. This sharpened the "steering without inducing a nervous twitch.[9]" Power output on the turbocharged motor was increased to 150 bhp from 145 bhp at 4400 rpm. This allowed the car to develop more torque at much lower revs. The important 50-70 acceleration time was 8 seconds compared to the Ford Scorpio 2.0 16V Ghia´s 17 seconds. The view of CAR magazine was that this engine "provides unusually swift access to effortless delivers progressively with commendably little fuss; that this 2.0 turbo is as refined as it is muscular makes the XM´s performance all the more creditable.[9]"

By the mid 1990s it was apparent that the XM´s image meant it was less desirable than German products such as the BMW 5-series.[10] The view of the XM as commercially unsuccessful is reported by Compucars,[11] the used car website, along with numerous other period commentaries (see "Critical Appraisal" below.) Production ended in June 2000.[12]

With total sales over its lifetime of just 330,000 units in more than 10 years and the fact that its replacement took 5 years to arrive, the XM might be considered a failure. This was the case particularly in markets such as the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, where demand was reduced to a virtual trickle by the late 1990s.[13][14] But despite its common roots with the Peugeot 605, the XM may still emerge as a collectible car, as the DS and CX both did.[15]

Critical appraisal


The XM was reviewed by numerous automotive magazines during the course of its life. Reviews at the time of launch were generally favourable if inconsistent concerning the car´s ride quality and appearance. The suspension in particular was praised during during testing in 1989 when “the XM showed the most exceptional side of its character. The new big Citroen has the finest suspension of any car yet made, as well as the most advanced”.[16] But by 1994 the XM was a car “that floats the car over foundation bumps, though it deals less smoothly with surface abrasions”.[17] Benchmarked against the Mercedes E-class, it was ranked as superior in 1991.[18] When compared to the BMW 5-series the same journal considered it both inferior and superior.[19][20] Over time the car´s reliability became suspect due to a problem with the quality of electrical connector used. This point was driven home in one of the final reviews of 2000, when Richard Bremner´s polemical “Parting Shot” essay in CAR magazine emphasised the electrical faults to which the car was prone; the writer paid less attention to the remediation of the problem and to the fact that changed market conditions meant demand for the XM was never going to be the same as for its predecessor.[21] Whilst Quentin Willson predicted in 1990 that the XM´s residuals would be better than the outgoing CX [22] by the end of the car´s life, its resale value was far below average, further denting the car´s appeal.[23] Reviewers had set up a vicious circle where the car was criticised for not selling and this was offered as a reason not to buy one.

In June 1989 CAR magazine [16] published a full test of the car in V6 guise. Two columns were devoted to the difficulty of replacing the Citroën CX and the writer reported that in the debate on the car´s appearance, it was decided by Citroen´s managing director, Xavier Karcher, to choose a design that was consistent with the BX rather than developing the outgoing car´s themes. The writer, Gavin Green, commented that "People will either love or hate the look of the XM for, like any car that inspires strong feelings, the CX-successor is distinctive. For that, if nothing else, Citroen deserve credit." His personal view was that he did not like the appearance, describing it as "displeasing" and having an "awkward, kicked-up hip-line." Beginning the test, Green reported the XM´s directional stability in "gale force winds": "Other cars - including our own photographic Citroen BX - nervously side-stepped their way forward, struggling like mountaineers on the final ascent. Not the XM. It hurried on majestically and serenely". On secondary roads "the XM showed the most exceptional side of its character. The new big Citroen has the finest suspension of any car yet made, as well as the most advanced." Green´s view was that "in soft mode, the car rides just as deftly as a Rolls-Royce, probably better: the suspension feels more compliant than the CX´s. In sports setting the XM handles beautifully, far less body roll and pitch than that which betrayed the CX. Only the car´s bulk prevents you from staying with the GTis." A further explanation of the handling explained that "although the extra suppleness on broken French secondaries is telling, it´s on winding roads that the XM pulls out a big leap over its predecessor....the XM turns into corners more eagerly, stays flatter both laterally and longitudinally, and abuses its tyres less. It´s right up there with the BMW 5-series Sports model at the top of the big car handling league. And yet on broken roads, it pampers more soothingly than any BMW ever built." Yet the continuity with the CX is still noted as follows: "It feels like a CX all the same. Tour along a French country road, or blast along an autoroute, and there is that same wonderful sense of detachment from the road surface. It´s a feeling no steel sprung car could ever relay, rather like an ocean liner sailing over the sea bed: the bumps are down there somewhere but they are quite irrelevant. The XM still floats along, constantly altering its attitude, in a similar vein to the CX. It rides on liquid, just like a boat. Only in sports mode do the reactions sharpen. The ocean liner turns power boat." The steering was described as inferior to the CX in that the ratio was reduced from 13.5 to one to 17 to one, and that the XM has 3.25 turns lock to lock rather than 2.5 as on the CX. In describing the interior, CAR noted that it was "utterly and depressingly conventional" other than the single spoke steering wheel. "The indicators are sited on a large, self-cancelling stalk, rather than on dainty and ergonomically superior rockers" The author referred to "a row of push button switches, all from the PSA parts bin...scattered just below the steering wheel." They are sited under the axle of the steering wheel, in a single line on an inclined plane. On the credit side "the XM´s cabin is trimmed in attractive plastics and velours of a higher quality than that which used to clothe the CX´s interior." On general assembly: "Paint finish, panel gaps, general solidity, interior finish - in every area the XM is streets ahead [of the CX]." The general roominess was noted: "The difference is particularly pronounced in shoulder-room: the front seat occupants sit some distance from each other [11 cm] and there is plenty of room for three in the back. In the class, only the Granada offers more rear legroom." The visibility was summed up as follows: "You have a much more panoramic view of the road and scenery in an XM than in a CX. The beltline is very low- below shoulder level for most drivers - and the windscreen seems vast." The conclusion of the article was that "the XM is a much better car than the CX...faster, sharper, roomier, better made and more comfortable; it is all these things as well as being disitinctive to the eye. It´s also the most comfortable car in its class: in absolute terms only a Jaguar or Rolls-Royce can match it...It is a far better car than I thought, a far more intriguing car than I feared."

In January 1990 UK´s car magazine ran a comparison of the 2.0 Si against the BMW 520i and Lancia Thema 16V 2.0.[24] The theme of the review was cars aimed at the lower end of the executive sector. The article reported that "Citroen expects business buyers to account for 80% of the 9000 XMs it hopes to shift in 1990." The car was "the 15,949 GBP fuel-injected Si. This is the middle trim level of a range that is extremely well-equipped, presumably as an inducement to forget your preconceptions [of prejudice against big Citroens]." CAR´s view was that the XM was "a rather exotic dish for executives raised on a staple of Granadas, Carltons, Rovers." The theme of polarising styling was repeated in the 1990 review: "Anyone who feared that Citroen´s individuality might perish in PSA Group's drive for increased sales and profitability will be heartened by the XM. There´s a touch of love it or loathe it about the styling, but there´s no denying that it is striking." The Valeo headlamps' slim design were mentioned as helping to make feasible the "low, penetrating front end" styling. In comparison while the Citroen had a drag coefficient of 0.28 the BMW 520´s was 0.30 and the Lancia´s was 0.32. The article explained that the UK market XM´s were not fitted with the self-centering power-steering because "buyers here don´t like it." Under the heading of performance, the Lancia recorded a 0-60 mph time of 9.6 seconds; the Citroen recorded 12.4 seconds and the BMW 10.6 seconds. The Thema was reckoned to be "the most mettlesome of the trio" due to sharp throttle responses and engine sound quality. The XM was marked down for the coarseness of the 2.0 litre XU series engine which was "rough and noisy. There´s no pleasure to be gained from revving it hard. Yet this is precisely what you must do to proceed with any sort of haste." Performance was reckoned to be "par for the class. Above 80 mph acceleration falls off dramatically, a victim of a tall top gear." The fuel economy of all three cars was considered "poor" under test conditions. The XM´s braking action was "the least satisfactory of the group. The pedal feels dead to start with, the the brakes snap suddenly. It´s difficult to stop progressively in the XM." Under roadholding: "the XM introduces a new motoring experience to those who don´t work as engineers on active ride projects - the flat cornering attitude. In medium speed bends, the XM scurries around with little discernable body roll, wheels upright and all four tyres planted firmly on the tarmac. Body roll isn´t entirely cancelled out, though as Hydractive doesn´t act as an anti-roll bar, it merely stiffens spring and damper rates. In tight, fast corners the XM leans like any conventional car.When grip from the XM´s 195/60 Michelin MXV2s runs out the Citroen starts to understeer gently. The tail can feel a bit light if you lift off part of the way around the corner, but it´s a sensation that doesn´t develop into anything more sinister." The steering was criticised for lack of feel at high speeds. The XM cabin was praised for its solid quality and roominess though the Lancia was reckoned to be as wide and had as much front head room and rear legroom. The BMW was comparatively less spacious. "Rear seat riders are best off in the XM, where they enjoy the most headroom of the group...put the centre armrest down, and there is a soft armchair quality to the seats. The front chairs are similar, yet they manage to locate you well when pressing on, and remain comfortable on long journeys." About the ride quality the reviewer wrote that "the XM´s ride quality is a big disappointment, especially at low speeds. Fractured urban road surfaces make it thud noisily, while it pummels rather than absorbs, the contusions. It´s jittery around town and will slap its tyres over ridges. A BX feels more composed in the same conditions. At higher speeds the XM is more impressive." In comparison the BMW was reckoned to have a "ride superior to that of the Citroen." There were "occasional flashes of brilliance from the XM´s chassis, but for the majority of the time it is outshone by the BMW." Under driver appeal, the relatively thick a-pillar, foot-operated park brake and obstructed passenger-side mirror came in for criticism. To drive the car "practice is required to drive it fluidly." On the inside "the XM´s cabin is cossetting and is a relaxing place to spend a full day of motorway driving. The quality of trim is easily the best ever to adorn a Citroen, and looks plusher that that of the plainer BMW." The conclusion of the article was that the BMW won the test against not just the XM and Thema but "all comers in the 2.0 litre class" primarily for its completeness and engineering quality. But "in spite of its faults you can´t help be intrigued by the XM. You get the feeling that there is a lot to be learned about the car over an extended period of ownership, a hidden facet that can only be revealed by familiarity. And there´s the satisfaction of driving a car that looks so distinctive." Reported fuel consumption for the cars at 75 mph were: Citroen 34.9 mpg, Lancia 34.4 mpg and BMW 32.1 mpg.

CAR magazine tested the diesel variant in July 1990.[20] CAR´s opinion was that "a weekend trip to Bavaria proved this latest addition to the XM range to be a very competent and economical long-hauler. At more moderate British road speeds, we have managed 43mpg in mixed running with four people aboard." In this review the car was viewed as being superior to a BMW 5-series: "Early in the trip the car was uncannily smooth over the bumpy back roads between Calais and Dunkirk. On German autobahns, travelling at speeds which turn bends into corners, the XM remained impressively flat as the suspension altered to cope with high cornering loads. We made the trip accompanied by a BMW 535i, which rolled appreciably more through fast bends, and passengers who tried both cars preferred the XM." Points of criticism were again,the left-side mirror and rear headroom: " The most serious [problem] is ungenerous rear headroom, though three passengers of average height found the rear bench comfortable for a 12-hour journey. More irritating, because avoidable, is the nearside mirror, which is partially obscured by the A-pillar. This deficiency is particularly noticeable on the continent, when you need the mirror for overtaking." The foot-operated parking brake was also criticised: "... four days weren’t enough to dispel our annoyance with the US-style foot-operated parking brake. We noted sourly that you would probably fail a driving test in the XM, because you cannot apply the brake (using your left foot) until you have put the car in neutral." In conclusion, CAR´s view was that "the XM is a car that grows on you, and in Turbo Diesel form, it's cheap to operate. If you're contemplating high mileages, particularly abroad where diesel is sensibly priced much cheaper than petrol, it’s well worth considering the stiff extra price of the oil-burner. If you care about reducing CO2 emissions by improving fuel consumption, the XM Turbo Diesel offers dramatic gains without sacrificing big-car virtues."

In February 1991 Car Magazine [25] tested the XM in V6 form alongside ten other executive cars (Alfa Romeo 164 V6 Lusso, BMW 525i 24v, Ford Scorpio 2.9 EFi, Jaguar XJ6 3.2, Mercedes Benz 260E, Peugeot 605 3.0 SVE, Rover Sterling, Saab 9000 CDs 2.3 turbo, Vauxhall Senator CD 3.0i and Volvo 960 3.0i-24). The winner was the Jaguar with the XM in second place. The summary was that "...the Citroen in second place impressed us enormously. The XM is the most advanced car here, the precursor of even better things to come. Such are the Citroen´s accomplishments that we´d have put it first had its refinement measured up that of the Peugeot stablemate." The Peugeot shared the same engine as the Citroen but in the Peugeot installation it was more refined and less "inexplicably throbby." In terms of styling CAR preferred the originality of the XM to the anonymity of the Peugeot: "criticise the the fussy, multi-pillared super-structure if you will but the XM eschews convention and for that we applaud this individualistic car." For performance, the XM was praised for its robust acceleration (9.3 seconds to 60 mph ) and its top speed (133 mph). Under roadholding and handling: "Hydractive suspension engenders unique feel, making the XM like no other car. Sharp steering and limpet cornering give uncanny responses, modest body roll and terrific composure. Torque steer seldom a problem. Brakes strong and sensitive." The report for the accommodation and comfort noted that the instrument dials were too small and that minor switches were mounted too low, out of sight (they are inside the radius of the steering wheel). The hatchback boot was described as "massive" and "can be extended by folding the seats." The XM interior was described as "plush, its seats soft, supportive and electric." The XM tied with the Ford Granada for having the most rear-legroom. The rear was described as "spacious." With the head restraint of the front seat set to its minimum height rear passengers enjoyed an uninterrupted view out through the windscreen. The model tested was an automatic and cost 25,330 GBP versus the Jaguar´s 27,500 GBP price.

The motoring magazine programme "Top Gear" reviewed the XM estate in a comparison test with the Audi 100 in 1991 [26] (Season 14, episode 16).The cars were described as competing in the "high speed hold-all" market. The presenter reported Citroen´s claim that its XM had the world´s largest estate loading bay and went on to say: "with this high rear window line you have truly a vast volume of space hidden from prying eyes." The load capacity of the boot was cited as 25 cubic feet with the load bay tonneau removed. This was helped by a "low sill and a spare tyre you get at from underneath." In comparison the Audi 100 had less concealed load space, a flimsy cover and less load space overall. The Audi´s maximum capacity was 44 cubic feet whereas the Citroen had 69 cubic feet. Concerning the driving quality the presenter said that the XM "is acknowledged to have one of the finest ride qualities in the world and the estate version is just as good." But the minor controls were said to be "intimidating" and the high rear window line was criticised for its effect on outward visibility."Behind the helm the XM shows itself to be a disarmingly fine car," reported the presenter. "Its poised magic carpet ride and velvetty drive train make for gentle and unruffled progress." At autobahn speed the car was said to be able "to soak up every pimple and declivity without so much as a solitary thud." With improved quality, shorter service intervals and good looks the "Top Gear" view was that residual values "should stay healthy."

The 1992 edition of the Daily Mail Motor review, edited by Michael Kemp [27] described the styling as "modern but sometimes awkward." In practice the "high speed roadholding is disappointing." To the car´s credit the XM was described as a "well equipped and comfortable luxury car with fine engine options."

In July 1994 Roger Bell of the UK´s Independent tested the 2.5 litre turbodiesel variant of the XM[28] Introducing a diesel engine with a high torque output was one means to improve the XM´s performance in the market: "The introduction of a new high- torque diesel is among a range of sales-boosting improvements made by Citroen to its flagging flagship, still shunned by the British as a Gallic oddity." The pricing and equipment were viewed as competitive: "With prices starting at £15,995 (down from £17,590) for the petrol 2.0 16v SX, you get a lot of car for your money. The 2.5-litre turbodiesel, which supplements the existing 2.1TD version, is more expensive: £20,525 for the saloon, £20,995 for the estate tested here. But it still undercuts the opposition." The comfort and roominess were praised but the ride quality was not without problems: "Family holdalls do not come much roomier than the XM estate, which is 10in longer than the saloon and several inches taller. Legroom in the back is sufficient for beanpole passengers, and the extended deck is of camp-bed length, almost as long as the Volvo 940's. Comfort is a strong suit, too. Complementing armchair front seats is suspension, dubbed Hydractive 2, that floats the car over foundation bumps, though it deals less smoothly with surface abrasions." Comments on the drive quality focused on the idiosyncrasies. Even though the steering ratio was much reduced compared to the CX, Roger Bell still considered it over-direct: "Despite its soft ride, the XM handles crisply. Body lean is controlled, so that the car can corner 'flat' despite its supple springs. Steering is sharp to the point of being nervous. As the touch-sensitive brakes require delicacy, too, clumsy drivers should look elsewhere: the XM is an acquired taste that rewards finesse as readily as it punishes errors." Roger Bell´s conclusion was that "anyone in the market for a big, roomy, comfortable car that goes well on little fuel would be foolish to ignore it. Apart from being good value, the XM is one of the last true 'characters' left in a market of lookalikes." Fuel economy of 40 mpg was reported for this test.

In May 1995, John Simister writing in CAR,[9] tested the revised XM 2.0 VSX against the Alfa Romeo 164 2.0 T-Spark, Ford Scorpio 2.0 16V Ghia and Vauxhall Omega 2.0 GLS 16V. The background for the article was the arrival of an entirely new iteration of the Vauxhall Omega and the recent launch of the Ford Scorpio. Simister introduced the XM as the "daring maverick of the quartet, technically and aesthetically.[9]" Due to its hydraulic steering, brakes and suspension the XM was recognised as having "a different feel." The conclusion of the test highlighted the XM´s uneven capabilities and also the extent to which the competition was catching up on Citroen´s unique sales propositions of ride quality and comfort: "there´s a telling generation gap between the two front-drive cars [XM and 164] and the younger rear-drive pair in this confrontation [Scorpio and Omega]" Though based on the architecture of a much older car, the Mk3 Ford Granada of 1985, the Scorpio bested the XM on seat comfort and rear legroom. The XM´s front seats and cabin ambience were not considered to be up to the same standard as the Ford or Vauxhall. However, the turbo-charged Citroen beat the Ford on performance. The Alfa was viewed as having the "sportiest character" with best handling but the Citroen had better space, comfort, finish and refinement. So a combination of superior speed (compared to the Ford) and comfort (compared to the Alfa) put the XM in second place. The Vauxhall´s all-round competence, but particularly its ride, put it in first place. The Vauxhall´s suspension was described as "brilliant. The ride is supple, controlled, well obtain such outstanding results through conventional means is to challenge Citroen´s innovation.[9]" The Opel also boasted accurate steering and "splendid centre-point responses. No rival turns into corners with greater resolution, bite or fluency." What was needed for Citroen to have won the test were improved "seats, cabin architecture and gearchange." In detail the gearchange was described as "graunchy, downgraded by the mushy clutch." And "despite mid-life refurbishment the XM´s dash and switchgear are not up the best." Where the XM was highly rated was in its steering, it being "nicely responsive rather than ultra-sharp – especially at speed, when little more than telepathy is needed to corner with inch-perfect precision." In contrast to the Vauxhall and Ford, the Citroen´s suspension failed to aborb surface abrasions which "generate high-frequency agitation and knobbliness".[9] However, the oleo-pneumatic suspension could "waft over foundation irregularities" better than the competitors. The foot-applied parking brake was described as "treacherous." The luggage capacity of the XM was rated at 460 litres, joint third place with the Ford.

An unrelated article in the same edition of CAR[29] discussed the sales performance of large, diesel cars in the UK market in the previous year. The Volkswagen Passat was ranked first and the XM took eighth place. Under the category "Could Do Better Department" the XM was described as a "technofest." The unnamed author exhorted readers as follows: "Listen people, they´re fab, so try one."

Whilst discussing the merits of turbo-diesels, the Glasgow Herald described the car in mid-1996 in the following way: "The Citroen XM in turbo diesel form is a splendid long-legged autoroute car.[30] " The same edition of the Glasgow Herald summarised the car as "a fine motorway cruiser, with unexpectedly good handling around the lanes, and masses of space for passengers and luggage.[31] "

The view of the Daily Express World Car Guide 1998,[32] edited by Peter Burgess, was that the XM was "as distinctive an executive class car as it´s possible to find." The interior was described as "huge." The news for that model year was the replacement of the 12-valve 3.0 litre V6 with a 24-valve 3.0 litre V6 that was used in the Citroen Xantia. The Guide commented that the interior was looking dated: "its hard edges and lines look very 1980s." However it was described as a "thoroughly relaxing drive."

The Daily Express World Car Guide, 1999, edited by Peter Burgess [33] said "Citroen´s largest car is also the most quirky." But the XM "is not without its qualities though, with a smooth ride and mile-munching motorway ability." The depreciation to which the car was prone had become part of the car´s identity in this and many other reviews. Typical is "only a few hundred are sold and values plummet on the used market." The view of the Daily Express World Car Guide was that the 2.1 and 2.5 litre diesels were "stars of the range with economy and reasonable performance." In contrast to earlier reviews, the Guide thought the interiors were "fragile." But the ergonomics remained a point of criticism from reviewers who only had brief exposure to the car: "the interior takes some getting used to." Referring to the load carrying capacity of the estate, the Guide said the car was "capable of carrying more than some vans."

By September 2000 [23] the Citroen XM´s press visibility had diminished to a low level. CAR magazine´s GBU section was one of the last places it was reviewed. The summary was that the XM as "an ancient intergalactic cruiser reminds us of what Citroen used to be. Bertone´s needle-nosed styling is wearing quite well, and comfy, spacious cabin a pleasure on top of the hydraulic chassis. Quite good in diesel and turbo forms...Estate an unbeatable load carrier but at a decade old this monster is best avoided."

CAR magazine´s final article on the XM was from November 2000.[21] The "Parting Shot" series was known for its unequivocally harsh stance so the commentary in that tradition was almost wholly negative. The article in question, by Richard Bremner, focused on the issue of the defective electrical connectors: "Early XMs could be relied upon to go wrong, but little else. And often the cause of the trouble could be pinpointed to one component - a defective electrical connector." The result of this reputation was that people "stayed away in droves, even if some got cars that gave no trouble at all." The article noted that "Citroen worked hard at fixing the problems, introducing a new kind of connector after the car was launched, but by then the XM had lost almost all connections with its potential audience." The article conceded that a changed market also made conditions difficult for the XM: "While the CX before it sold well to successful types who needed something big and futuristic, by the time the XM came along their thoughts were turning towards the slickly packaged prestige of BMW and Benz. The market for big cars from volume makers was dying." Bremner pointed out that it was going to be difficult for any modern Citroen to be great. "What it really needed to be, however unreasonable it is to expect one car company to keep delivering it, was a new concept in big car design, something as radical as the Renault Espace. But the XM was not that and it has died unloved and destined, one suspects, to become very rare very soon."

The XM has a mixed reputation in its post-production twilight. Discussing bargain used cars the Glasgow Herald wrote in 1999 [34] that the XM has "a solid reputation, smooth engines, plenty of street presence and lots of room for people and luggage." But, writing in the Daily Telegraph in September 2005,[35] Andew English introduced his discussion on the Citroen C6 with this comment: "It has been 17 years since Citroën last introduced a large car. The slab-of-cheese-like XM that went out of production in 2000 was a mockery of the idea, however. Not just in the coincidence of its design house's name, Bertone, with that of that of Flaminio Bertoni, who penned the beautiful and elegant DS models in the 1950s, but also for its staggering unreliability." When reviewing the Citroen C6 in 2006, The Irish Times referred to the marked improvement in the quality of the new vehicle compared to its predecessor: "unlike previous big Citroëns, such as the XM, the C6 has a feel of quality in its fit and finish.[36] "

Britain´s Classic & Sportscar [15] published an essay on Citroen´s large cars, from DS to C6. The tone is more charitable than that found in the periodicals aimed at new car buyers but still refers to a car with a reputation "tarnished by complexity". For comparison purposes a Series 2 XM in 2.1 litre diesel configuration was presented. The article´s contention was that the XM was intended to compete with the ascendant German marques. The article views the car as having a design influenced strongly by the Citroen SM, and calls it "the world´s most subtle retro design." About the interior (a series 2 which resembles the Xantia´s) the author says "the black cabin is a little dour, but there are playful touches, too, such as the black strip of smoked plastic behind the wheel, from which warning lights [15] emerge and vanish." Turning to the driving quality the author remarks, "you´ll find a confidence not always present in its ancestors. There´s little understeer, the brakes are more conventionally controlled and the 2.1 litre turbocharged unit has ample torque for cannoning the XM from bend to bend. The bump-eliminating suspension...still features - you´ll barely notice cattle grids - but with it comes a firmness more orientated towards the sporting driver."

The UK-based car review website Honest John [37] summarises the XM, as a used purchase, as "Comfortable and spacious, especially the estate. Excellent ride and tidy handling.Plenty of potential problems, so buy with care and find an experienced XM specialist."

The used-car website Compucars[38] views the XM as "Surprisingly good to drive thanks to that suspension system. You find yourself relishing country B roads, despite the car's obvious bulk. You need to be careful with the foot-operated parking brake though. A lever on the dashboard, which can take some getting used to, releases it." The overall impression of the car, according to Compucars is: "Gallic charm with attitude. The XM makes a pleasant change from normal executive fare. Buy carefully and enjoy."


The hydropneumatic self-leveling suspension (featuring grapefruit-sized metal spheres containing nitrogen, acting as both springs and shock absorbers) gained a very sophisticated electronic control system called Hydractive, which used sensors in the steering, brakes, suspension, throttle pedal and transmission to feed information on the car's speed, acceleration, and road conditions to on-board computers. Where appropriate – and within milliseconds – these computers switched an extra suspension sphere in or out of circuit, to allow the car a smooth supple ride in normal circumstances, or greater roll resistance for better handling in corners.

Citroën XM Break

The Hydractive system was somewhat "ahead of the curve" when the car was launched and early versions were sometimes unreliable. Many problems stemmed from the sensitive electronics controlling the car's hydraulic system, often caused by the poor quality of the multipoint grounding blocks — one on each front inner wing, one at the rear, and one under the dashboard. These tended to corrode (especially the ones in the engine compartment), causing all manner of intermittent faults which were hard to diagnose. On later cars, these were changed to screw terminals bolted through the bodywork, and most of the older cars have been modified in a similar way.

When the Hydractive system worked, the result was a big car with a smooth "magic carpet" ride, and better handling than many smaller, lighter, sports cars. When it didn't work, it was quite harsh and bumpy, although no worse than any contemporary high-performance sports sedan. However, right-hand drive XMs were never fitted with the DIRAVI variable fully powered steering of the CX, having an almost conventional DIRASS power-assisted setup.

Some production models of the XM were not equipped with the Hydractive system, but had a 'conventional' hydropneumatic suspension closer to that of the Citroën BX. These lower specification vehicles were all built for markets in mainland Europe.


The XM was fitted with a wide range of gasoline and diesel engines:

Model Years Engine and code Displ. Power Torque Accel 0–100 km/h Top Speed
2.0 1989–1994 I4 8V XU10 2C 1998 cc 85 kW (116 PS; 114 hp) @ 5800 rpm 164 N·m (121 lb·ft) @ 2250 rpm 193 km/h (120 mph)
2.0i 1989–1994 I4 8V XU10 1998 cc 81 kW (110 PS; 109 hp) @ 5600 rpm 164 N·m (121 lb·ft) @ 3500 rpm 12.4 sec 190 km/h (118 mph)
2.0i 1989–1994 I4 8V XU10 J2C 1998 cc 89 kW (121 PS; 119 hp) @ 5600 rpm 170 N·m (125 lb·ft) @ 4000 rpm 11.9 sec 201 km/h (125 mph)
2.0i 16V 1994–2000 I4 16V XU10 J4R 1998 cc 97 kW (132 PS; 130 hp) @ 5500 rpm 180 N·m (133 lb·ft) @ 4200 rpm 10.8 sec 205 km/h (127 mph)
2.0i Turbo CT 1992–1994 I4 8V XU10 J2TE 1998 cc 107 kW (145 PS; 143 hp) @ 4400 rpm 226 N·m (167 lb·ft) @ 2200 rpm 9.8 sec 212 km/h (132 mph)
2.0i Turbo CT 1994–2000 I4 8V XU10 J2TE 1998 cc 108 kW (147 PS; 145 hp) @ 5300 rpm 235 N·m (173 lb·ft) @ 2500 rpm 9.3 sec 215 km/h (134 mph)
3.0i V6 1989–1994 V6 12V PRV 2975 cc 125 kW (170 PS; 168 hp) @ 5600 rpm 240 N·m (177 lb·ft) @ 4600 rpm 9.7 sec 222 km/h (138 mph)
3.0i V6 1994–1997 V6 12V PRV 2963 cc 123 kW (167 PS; 165 hp) @ 5600 rpm 235 N·m (173 lb·ft) @ 4600 rpm 9.7 sec 222 km/h (138 mph)
3.0i V6 24V 1990–1997 V6 24V PRV 2975 cc*1 147 kW (200 PS; 197 hp) @ 6000 rpm 260 N·m (192 lb·ft) @ 3600 rpm 8.6 sec 235 km/h (146 mph)
2.9i V6 24V 1997–2000 V6 24V ES9 J4 2946 cc 140 kW (190 PS; 188 hp) @ 5500 rpm 267 N·m (197 lb·ft) @ 4000 rpm 8.4 sec 233 km/h (145 mph)
2.1 D12 1989–1994 I4 12V XUD11 A 2138 cc 60 kW (82 PS; 80 hp) @ 4600 rpm 147 N·m (108 lb·ft) @ 2000 rpm 17.6 sec 173 km/h (107 mph)
2.1 Turbo D12 1989–1994 I4 12V XUD11 ATE 2088 cc 81 kW (110 PS; 109 hp) @ 4300 rpm 243 N·m (179 lb·ft) @ 2000 rpm 12.9 sec 192 km/h (119 mph)
2.1 Turbo D 1994–2000 I4 12V XUD11 BTE 2088 cc 80 kW (109 PS; 107 hp) @ 4300 rpm 250 N·m (184 lb·ft) @ 2000 rpm 12.9 sec 192 km/h (119 mph)
2.5 Turbo D 1994–2000 I4 12V DK5 2446 cc 95 kW (129 PS; 127 hp) @ 4300 rpm 285 N·m (210 lb·ft) @ 2000 rpm 12.1 sec 201 km/h (125 mph)

*1 From 1994 2963 cc

Being part of the PSA Peugeot-Citroën company, most of these engines were found in contemporary PSA cars, like the Citroën Xantia, Citroën C5, Peugeot 405, Peugeot 406 and Peugeot 605. The ZF 4HP18 automatic transmission – the late V6 had 4HP20 – was used also in Saab 9000, Peugeot 605, Alfa Romeo 164, Lancia Thema and the Fiat Croma.

Dimensions and weights

  • Length: 4,709 mm (185.4 in) (Berline) or 4,950 mm (194.9 in) (Break) or 4,963 mm (195.4 in) (1998 V6 Break)
  • Width: 1,793 mm (70.6 in)
  • Height: 1,392 mm (54.8 in) (most Berline models); some turbo models 1,385 mm (54.5 in); 1,466 mm (57.7 in) (1998 V6 Break)
  • Wheelbase: 2,850 mm (112.2 in)
  • Ground clearance: 140 mm (5.5 in)
  • Weight: 1,310 kg (2,888 lb) (2.0i Berline) – 1,400 kg (3,086 lb) (2.0 Turbo Berline) – 1,453 kg (3,203 lb) (Turbo Break) – 1,475 kg (3,252 lb) (1990 V6) – 1,642 kg (3,620 lb) (Turbo 2.5D Break) – 1,655 kg (3,649 lb) (1998 V6 Break)
  • Fuel tank capacity: 80 L (21 US gal; 18 imp gal)

Differences between 1st and 2nd generations

There are a number of visible differences between the first generation (May 1989 – May 1994) and second generation (June 1994 – June 2000) cars:

The most distinctive external differences are that:

  • In second generation XMs, the Citroën double-chevron logo was moved to the centre of the grille and became larger. It was located off-centre in the first generation cars.
  • The "XM" badge on the rear had a more stylised font and it was moved to the right of the tailgate.
  • The second generation cars were fitted with a lower rear spoiler on the tailgate, sitting much closer to the top of the boot.
  • The grey/black panel between the leading edge of the windscreen and the rear edge of the bonnet was colour coded with the body colour. The original colouring was designed to echo the upward kick in the window line behind the rear door. With body coloured plastic this visual relationship became less clear and the "visual mass" of the front of the car increased somewhat. This effect was clearer on light coloured cars where the contrast between the dark areas and light areas was more pronounced.
  • The door mirrors were modified to improve the view of the passenger side mirror from the driver's seat. Previously it was slightly obscured by the A-pillar. However, the obscuration only affected the field of view above the road horizon which is relatively less important.

Differences to the interior include:

  • A more conventional three spoke steering wheel including an integrated airbag. The driver airbag was standard on most models and countries, regardless of hand-drive configuration. As a result, the second generation models never had Citroën's distinctive single-spoke wheel. In certain markets (mainly the UK) and for certain models XMs were fitted with a two-spoke wheel.
  • A modified instrument panel, to accommodate an optional passenger airbag (standard after December 1995). Also, in 1997, front seat-mounted side airbags were added, which were optional or standard depending on model and market. The design was similar to the Xantia´s dashboard.
  • The quality of the interior materials was marginally improved, with the leather and the seating being both softer but more supportive.
  • The upper part of door trim were redesigned to soften the shape. Series 1 cars had a pronounced chamfer-effect in keeping with the angular theme of the dashboard.
  • The driver and all passengers comfort was further enhanced (on Exclusive models) by variable heat seating, rather than as before just "on or off", with a dial switch allowing a heat setting of 1, 2, or 3.

Other major improvements include:

  • Better, more reliable electrics and a faster computer system controlling the new Hydractive 2 suspension.
  • Some models also received the "Auto Adaptive" gearbox, which supposedly assesses the driver's driving style, then switches to the most appropriate of approximately 6 onboard programmes. This gearbox was further enhanced by a "Sport" mode button (in addition to the sports button for the suspension), which shortened the gear change times, therefore offering a more responsive experience. The final new upgrade effecting the driving experience saw the introduction of a "Snow Mode" button, located next to the new sport mode button. Although rarely used in some countries, this was a surprisingly effective addition to the driver's arsenal; during any notable falls of snow that may affect the road ahead, a simple push of this button commands the gearbox to only accelerate from 2nd gear and up, and not to rev the engine too high, thus preventing any loss of traction.

In addition, the following changes were made to make the car easier to accept by more mainstream car buyers:

  • As a direct consequence of their high pressure hydraulics, early XM brake pedals had very little, if any, travel. Phase 2 XMs had some sponginess deliberately built in to the braking system (by inserting a sleeved spring into the pedal linkage) to make their brakes feel more like those on other cars.
  • The Phase 2 "Hydractive 2" cars no longer "settled" down to the bottom of their suspension travel after having been parked for a while; this feature was termed "Anti-Sink" by Citroën. Such systems have even more complex hydraulics than 'Sinkers' because of the use of isolating valves and an extra sphere near the rear 'axle'. The hydraulic systems were also a lot quieter when maneuvering; this was due to the changes the "Anti-Sink" system brought. Early cars, 'sinkers', had a single output hydraulic pump which had its output divided into separate circuits, one for the power steering and one for the suspension/brake circuits (power steering needs a large flow rate whereas the suspension/brakes doesn't). The device which does this job is called a FDV (Flow Diverter Value), and this device hisses noticeably when the car is standing still or maneuvering. A slight pull on the steering wheel or a blip of the throttle will stop the hiss for a few seconds or so. Later "Anti-Sink" cars have a dual output pump, referred to as a 6+2 pump due to the number of internal piston chambers. Such cars therefore have no need of the "FDV" and therefore do not hiss.

The DIRAVI functions

A function much missed by Citroën enthusiasts was the "DIRAVI" System, previously present in the SM and CX. This option was only available for the French or LHD Export market and then only on the 3.0 V6 models. The functionality varied from car to car, but simply put the system affects steering control, at lower speeds less steering centering force aids parking and make city driving easier, but at higher speeds the system makes the steering heavier keeping you in a straight line on highways and suppressing the "sneeze" factor inherent to fast steering ratios. Another helpful function of DIRAVI is its ability to return the steering wheel to its central or neutral position when let go by the driver, even when the car is stationary. This is especially helpful when parking as the driver can be assured that his or her wheels will be in the correct position when the ignition is turned off; again this function also aids high speed, straight line driving on highways etc. Although an odd sensation to start with, most Citroën drivers become accustomed to DIRAVI in a very short time, only appreciating its unique abilities when they let go of the steering wheel in a car without DIRAVI, only to find nothing happens. DIRAVI makes the tendency of all cars' steering to return to center constant in DIRAVI equipped Citroëns rather than being affected by tire adhesion, road tilt, tire pressure, tire failure, etc.


The standard 5-door models were called "Berline". The XM was also available as a "Break" (station wagon) – and in France, Tissier continued a tradition begun with the DS and CX, converting many to be used as ambulances and specialised delivery vehicles including their distinctive twin rear-axle conversions.

Although not an official variant XMs produced around 1992/1993 have been termed series 1.5 cars due to the mix of newer technology (developed for the series 2) with the series 1 vehicle type. One example of this being the alterations to the "Hydractive" suspension system on such cars. Early vehicles (series 1) had a system that could be switched from 'Comfort' to 'Sport' mode, this did exactly what you would expect and firmed up the suspension on flicking the switch but this made for a harsh ride which Citroen owners don't like. So Citroen developed "Hydractive 2" suspension (for series 2 vehicles) that although in essence was the same it worked differently, it still had to two states 'hard' and 'soft' but the switching was controlled differently. In general smooth gentle driving the suspension would be in 'soft' mode ("Normal" mode according to Citroen on series 2 vehicles) which utilized all 6 suspension spheres and allowed 'crossflow' of fluid from side to side producing the characteristic wafting ride, but as soon as the suspension ECU sensed a large or sudden change in one of the sensors it would put the suspension into 'hard' mode locking out the extra centre spheres and stopping the 'crossflow' of fluid, this dramatically firmed up the suspension and cut body roll, as soon as the vehicle stabilized the ECU would switch the suspension system back into 'soft' mode. This is the basis of "Hydractive 2", a soft cosseting ride all the time unless the conditions demand otherwise, switching a "Hydractive 2" vehicle into "Sport" mode doesn't just switch out the extra spheres as with "Hydractive 1", it simply just narrows the parameters that cause the suspension to go into 'hard' mode and keeps the suspension in that mode for longer before defaulting back to 'soft' mode. So a series 1.5 vehicle has the styling of a series 1 but with some of the suspension refinements of the series 2 vehicles. There are other detail changes to the actual implementation of the "Hydractive" but unless you are maintaining the vehicle yourself these are unimportant.

Headlight issues

Components supplier Valeo designe the XM´s lamps and a similar design was used on the Eagle Premier.[39] The goal of the design was to reduce the size of the lamps and to increase their output. The XM's new "complex surface" headlamps were not powerful enough on dipped beam,[40] though main beam was perfectly adequate. This could be traced to the use of a plastic optical element between the bulb and the outer lens, which yellowed with age. The XM was not alone here; early Ford Mondeos suffered from the same problemTemplate:Citation needed. Series 2 (from mid-1994 onwards) left-hand drive XMs had improved light units without the plastic element, but slow UK sales meant these were never fitted to right-hand drive cars. Headlamp retrofit kits using dual or triple round optics are available from third party suppliers, though this changes the aesthetics of the car. Series 1 cars can be fitted with series 2 headlights.

US import

File:Citroen XM Hatchback.JPG
Citroën XM hatchback (US)

The XM was imported into the United States by CXA, a company that had imported several hundred CX25 GTi and Prestige model cars for Citroën loyalists in the USA.

CxAuto presented the XM at the 1991 New York Motor Show, in the spring of 1991 and began converting and selling the XM Pallas (combined with the 2.0 injection engine) and the XM Vitesse (combined with the 3.0 V6 engine). In 1993, the XM Exclusive was added to the range. Unfortunately, the XM cost 40% more than the CX Prestige, with a price in excess of $50,000 and only a few examples were sold. As a result of newer, tougher US anti-pollution standards, the import of these cars ceased in 1997.[41] XM parts must be sent over from Europe.


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  6. The Daily Express World Car Guide 1998, page 30
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  13. Custom byline text:  Ross Finlay (2000-01-14). "Accessed Dec 21, 2011". Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  14. Custom byline text:  ROSS FINLAY (1998-05-21). "Prestige and performance round-up". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
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  16. 16.0 16.1 CAR Magazine June 1989, page 103-109
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  18. Car Magazine, Feb, 1991
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  20. 20.0 20.1 CAR Magazine, July 1990 transcribed at Accessed Dec 15, 2011
  21. 21.0 21.1 CAR magazine, November 2000, page 250
  22. "Old Top Gear 1991 - Citroen XM and Audi 100 estates (Bad Quality)". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-12-17
  23. 23.0 23.1 CAR Magazine, September 2000
  24. CAR Magazine, January 1990
  25. Car Magazine, February, 1991.
  26. Meld je aan of registreer je om een reactie te plaatsen!. "Old Top Gear 1991 - Citroen XM and Audi 100 estates (Bad Quality)". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-12-17. 
  27. Daily Mail Motor review, 1992, page 17
  28. "Motoring: Time for some tough torque - Roger Bell is impressed by the muscular new Citroen XM 2.5TD Room to move: Citroen's XM 2.5TD / Road Test - Motoring - Life & Style". London: The Independent. 1994-07-30. Retrieved 2011-12-17. 
  29. Car, May 1995, page 166.
  30. Custom byline text:  From the archive (1996-06-27). "Accessed Dec 21, 2011". Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  31. Custom byline text:  Ross Finlay (1996-06-27). "Accessed Dec 21, 2011". Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  32. Daily Express World Car Guide, 1998, page 30
  33. Daily Express World Car Guide, 1998, page 35
  34. Custom byline text:  James Currie (1999-08-27). "Accessed Dec 21 2011". Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  35. Car Reviews (17 September 2005). "Citroën à Grande Vitesse". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-12-17. 
  36. "Accessed Dec 21 2011". 2006-08-23. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
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  38. "Accessed Dec 15, 2011". GB: 2006-10-19. Retrieved 2011-12-17. 
  39. "Complex Shape Headlamps:Eight Years of Experience". 1997-02-24. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  40. Julian Marsh (2000-06-10). "Citroën XM headlamp complaints". Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  41. "1990 CxAuto XM Vitesse advertisement". Retrieved 2011-12-13. 

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