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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Xsara estate gets the basics right, with a huge boot and a practical load area

Against It has too many reliability problems, cheap cabin trim and a notchy gearchange

Verdict It's roomy, refined, economical and comfortable, but there's a definite lack of quality

Go for… 2.0-litre turbodiesel

Avoid… 1.4-litre petrol

Citroën Xsara Estate
  • 1. You're looking at the right car ifyou want practicality. The Xsara estate has more space than many of its rivals
  • 2. Pay particular attention to the clutch on a test drive, as it's a known weak point
  • 3. When setting your budget, assume you'll have to shell out for repairs to the suspension
  • 4. The electrics can be a problem. Both the airbag warning lights and fuel gauges are prone to giving false messages
  • 5. Warped brake discs – which will judder during a test drive – are a potential headache
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Citroën Xsara Estate full review with expert trade views

The estate is the real star of the Citroen Xsara range, offering more space than many of its rivals. Even with all the seats in use, there’s still room for four large suitcases and a golf bag in the back. The seats split and fold on all models, and once they’re down, the load area is flat and wide. Extra luggage can always go on the integral roof rails.

Up front in the cabin, attention to detail is not so impressive. Although all the controls are within easy reach, the design is plain and some of the plastics look cheap.

The economical diesel engines were the best in their day and are still impressive, especially the later 1.9 and 2.0 turbo units. Although the ride can be firm around town, it’s comfortable everywhere else. There’s more body roll than you might like, but the steering is sharp and the handling fine.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Nothing exciting but reliable and cheap to run. Desire models have the best spec

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

Citroen launched the estate with a 1.4-litre petrol engine. It may have 75bhp, and it may feel OK if you're on your own, but fully loaded? Forget it. The 103bhp 1.6-litre and 112bhp 1.8-litre petrols give a better and more refined drive, but when there’s load lugging to be done, you can’t beat a diesel.

Prior to the Xsara’s 2000 face-lift, a 68bhp 1.9 diesel and a 90bhp turbo unit were on offer. The best engine arrived in June 1999, a 2.0-litre HDI common rail unit, with either 90 or 110bhp.

There are five trims, X, LX, SX, Exclusive and Desire. Post-'99 models all have anti-lock brakes, and cars from 2000 onwards have air-con from LX models upwards. SX trim provides a height-adjustable seat, but we recommend seeking out an Exclusive for the alloy wheels, heated electric mirrors, CD autochanger and luggage floor net.

Trade view

John Owen

Mostly ex-fleet cars on the market. Cheap and cheerful

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

The thirstiest model is the 1.8-litre petrol automatic, which returns just 30mpg. The 71bhp 1.9 diesel from 1998 is good for 45mpg, and although the 90bhp turbo packs a stronger punch, economy tails off slightly to 43mpg. Don’t be put off by the later, larger 2.0-litre unit, as it's the most economical model. The 90bhp model gives 54mpg, while the 110bhp version manages 52mpg.

Insurance is reasonable, ranging from group 5 for the 1.4 petrol to group 10 for 1.8 16v Exclusive, while the 2.0 HDI with the same trim is rated group 9.

Official Citroen dealer rates are not as expensive as you might think, and it’ll cost more per hour to have your Ford, Fiat, Vauxhall or Volkswagen worked on. And, according to Warranty Direct, a standard repair bill on a Xsara is less than that on the equivalent VW Golf or Vauxhall Astra.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Nothing exciting but reliable and cheap to run. Desire models have the best spec

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The Xsara has had seven recalls to have defective parts replaced over the years, but before you panic, the car came 26th out of 100 in Warranty Direct’s survey of the most reliable cars of the past decade, putting it ahead of cars such as the Subaru Impreza, Skoda Octavia and Audi A4.

All the same, there are faults with the car. Poor electrics are a recurring theme, and although the problems may not be big, they can prove difficult to trace and rectify. Airbag warning lights and fuel gauges are prone to giving false readings, while warped brake discs – which will judder during a test drive – are another potential headache, as are electronic control units on petrol engines.

Automatic gearboxes can also give major and expensive problems. At least the Xsara features convention steel springs and shock absorbers, so there is no fragile hydropneumatic suspension to worry about.

Trade view

John Owen

Mostly ex-fleet cars on the market. Cheap and cheerful

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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