I have the 1.6 Forte and it is reasonably swift. It only has 90bhp but is a light car so is quick enough to keep up with traffic.
It has very good ride quality. My mother has a Vauxhall Astra (2001 model year) and the Xsara has a softer, smoother ride. As can be expected from a Citroen, the quality is not great inside but it all works as it should.
It's very good value second hand. I bought mine for £3500 on a 2000 W-plate in 2004 with a year's warranty. It has auto air-con and 4 airbags so equipment is plentiful.
It is comfy on a long journey, it takes a good three hours before you get a numb bum!
Overall, I would say that the Xsara is a good value, cheap to run, reliable family hatch, which is comfortable at the same time as being fun to drive (it is based upon the 306 after all).
As a secondhand buy it's cheap and you get lots of kit. It's a bit slow, but reliability has been good.
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