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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For It's dirt-cheap, well equipped, and rides well

Against The design is already looking dated, and the car's not that reliable

Verdict Worth considering, but well past its sell-by date

Go for… 2.0 VTS

Avoid… 1.6 VTR

Citroën Xsara Coupe
  • 1. Check over a VTS model particularly carefully - they tend to have been driven hard, and may have been crashed
  • 2. Check the clutch on a test drive, as it's a known weak point
  • 3. Include repairs to the suspension in your budget, as you may well need to spend some money on them
  • 4. Insist on a full service history, as it's possible that previous owners may have skimped on maintenance
  • 5. Check the electrics work properly, as even minor repairs can be costly
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Citroën Xsara Coupe full review with expert trade views

The Xsara Coupe is an anonymous-looking small hatch with three doors. But, in a bid to lend it some street-cred, Citroen offered only the quicker engines from the Xsara line-up and stiffened the suspension a touch. The VTR is more of a warm hatch but the VTS is pretty hot.

Drivers of any version will appreciate the clear dashboard, if not some fiddly buttons and the squidgy, unsupportive driver’s seat, while passengers will find there's a fair amount of space inside. However, shoulder room in the rear is tight for three and there’s only a lap-belt for the centre passenger.

The boot is big and practical and the rear seats split-fold, but the spare wheel is slung underneath in a cradle, which makes life easy for thieves unless a security bolt is purchased.

Equipment levels are high and all models have alloy wheels and air-con, and most have a CD player. But, the biggest problem is just finding one. The Xsara coupe was never a big seller when new, so it’s a rare sight second-hand.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Under-rated bargain basement hatch. A lot of car for the money

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Try for the 167bhp 2.0 VTS if you can afford the insurance: it’s quick and, providing it is looked after, handles well. Otherwise, the 1.8 or 1.6 VTR models are a good second best. Note, though, that older 1.6s muster only 89bhp, whereas post-face-lift cars have 110bhp. That makes quite a difference and the 89bhp cars are a bit slow and coarse. The 110bhp version is smoother and noticeably quicker.

Otherwise, there’s a quick 2.0 diesel, also with 110bhp. This is rare, but worth seeking out because it’s a rapid car that is also cheap to fuel and insure.

All Xsara coupes are well equipped and post-2000 models are notably good for safety kit. Most have twin front and side airbags, plus anti-lock brakes.

Also, expect to find air-con and a CD player, as well as remote locking and electric windows.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Old Xsara bargain buy, but 2000-on 1.6 SX and any HDI fine

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The best thing about buying an ordinary car that’s no longer current is that it’s going to be cheap. First owners may have suffered savage drops in value, but that’s all in the past. Look after it and in a year’s time it might even sell for what you paid for it.

The Xsara is cheap to service and repair, but it’s not the most reliable car, so you’d be wise to budget for problems.

Insurance costs are average: the 1.6 petrol and 2.0 diesel models are group 9, the 1.8 is group 11 and the 2.0 in group 16. And, fuel economy isn't too bad, either - the 2.0 HDi promises up to 54mpg overall, the 1.8 33mpg and the 2.0 a reasonable 30mpg overall.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Under-rated bargain basement hatch. A lot of car for the money

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Many Xsaras were bought cheaply new by owners and it’s a fair bet that servicing has been skimped, which is bad news. Patchy work early on accelerates engine wear and probably means a clogged-up radiator and worn brakes.

You can also expect the VTS to have been driven hard and perhaps crashed. To cut a long story short, whatever model you're interested in, buy only if there are good service records, backed by bills for work.

Citroen’s poor showing in JD Power Customer Satisfaction Surveys warns would-be owners to expect trouble, and the Xsara is a typical Citroen. Clutches are a weak point, so expect to buy a replacement if it still has the original one. Chances are that the suspension will need repairs, too - unevenly worn tyres are a sure sign of problems.

Check also that all the electrics work properly because faults are common and repairs can be dear, even for minor jobs.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Old Xsara bargain buy, but 2000-on 1.6 SX and any HDI fine

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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