My wife has owned this car from new,a pre face lift 2000 model, purchased in 2001 at a bargain price. It has now covered 50,000 miles and apart from the filler pipe coming adrift (fixed under warranty) and replacement front discs it has been totally reliable and only had routine servicing.
As we are 50+ it was not an obvious choice, but it is great fun to drive, very quick when you put your foot down, with excellent handling and has averaged 35 mpg. They forgot suspension when building the car and the ride is jarring. You also learn to hold the wheel tight on rough surfaces as it does tramline.
Sevicing has been done by a local garage and it has never failed an MOT. Insurance is group 16 but when you're older this is only £180, fully comp.
My wife refuses to consider a newer car as she likes it so much and compared to my own Audi A6 it has been much more reliable. These are so cheap now, they are a performance bargain if you can afford the insurance and the forthcoming tax increase.
The Xsara 2.0HDi 110hp is extremely pleasurable to drive, good traction and excellent torque delivery. Very good fuel consumption at middle to top 50mpg range. Comfortable drive with good cornering ability and surefootedness. Brakes are reliable and responsive. Haven't really found any niggles as yet - apart from the awkwardness of changing headlight bulbs, a little restrictive unless you have small hands. DIY servicing is easy and cheap enough to do. Cabin controls are well laid out and accessible. Aftermarket spares are reasonably priced and readily available from motor factors. Build quality seems to be reassuringly solid, couple that with the abundance of airbags and I believe it would certainly offer great protection in the event of an accident. No nasty suprises with this HDi unit, unlike the Pug 307 2.0 HDi, Citroen 2.2 Hdi equivalents that have diesel particulate filters and fuel additive to keep the cat/dpf clean - very expensive to have them replaced. I did have the 1.4i petrol version of the Xsara and found that to be very good indeed, but the HDi version is even better. I would reccommend this model. Motorway driving is effortless and long journeys are comfortable. Generally a very good car and great deals can be had in the second hand car market because of the new car dealership offers/prices.
I am surprised at the lukewarm official reveiw of this car, as I bought this last July and have been very impressed with its performance, value for money and reliability. Comfortable and spacious inside, it is fine to drive in town and on motorways (quiet, even at high speeds) but is really good on country roads where the comparatively small engine provides excellent performance, complimented by sharp handling and responsive brakes. Cost-wise, it has caused me no problems so far although the exhaust is starting to appear corroded (38000 miles), but fuel consumption is excellent (London-Edinburgh happily on one tank of approx 50litres). Overall, I would recommend this car to anyone who would like a lot of car for not a lot of money.
Very quick with good grip. Minimal understeer. I have the 1999 VTS model with 167bhp. Absolutely fly’s. Many times have seen 140+ and still pulling. Am sure it would max out at 150ish. The engine sounds fantastic at high revs. The note starts to growl at about 5000rpm and pulls quickly to 7000rpm. That’s where all the power is. You need to work the gearbox to keep the engine in its strongest power band. Bottom end torque is ok when the car is empty, but could do with more grunt when carrying 4 adults and a full boot. The turn in is very good helped by fairly responsive steering. The car is stable over bumps mid corner. Lift off throttle mid corner just tightens up the line neatly, without inducing any oversteer. It corners with little body role. A really satisfying car to hussle through a sequence of bends. The ride is more comfortable than other fast coupes I have tried.
In the wet it understeers and slides a lot, mainly because of the sport tyres that are optimised for dry weather. Get a good set of Michelin sports. They are the best for traction in the wet and good dry handling.
Comes well equipped with 6CD auto-changer, air con and electric everything. It’s comfortable for 4 adults and plenty of luggage. I use it for fast blasts to country side. Can't think of any other car for under 3k that is reliable, this fast and comfortable. I get over 30mpg when driving carefully, but this drops to low 20s on a fast drive. The service costs have been low from Citroen.
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