Used Citroën Xsara 1997 - 2004 review

Category: Family car

Worth considering if you have little to spend. Otherwise, it's well past its sell-by date

Citroën Xsara (97 - 04)
  • Citroën Xsara (97 - 04)
  • Citroën Xsara (97 - 04)
Used Citroën Xsara 1997 - 2004 review
Star rating

What's the used Citroën Xsara hatchback like?

The Xsara is an anonymous-looking small hatch with five doors, but a face-lift in 2000 tidied up its lines and brightened the cabin, losing the sludge-coloured seat fabrics used previously.

Inside, there's a fair amount of interior space, although shoulder room in the rear is tight for three and there's only a lap-belt for the centre passenger. The dash is clear but some buttons are fiddly and the driver's seat is short of support - something you'll notice on long journeys.


Worth considering if you have little to spend. Otherwise, it's well past its sell-by date

  • Cheap to buy and to run, and later ones are well equipped and reliable
  • It feels old and looks shabby
  • it's dull to drive and not that reliable

The boot is big and practical, with rear seats that split and fold. However, the spare wheel is slung underneath in a cradle, which makes life easy for thieves unless it's fitted with a security bolt.

The car rides softly and is OK to drive in a relaxed way, but its lifeless steering and modest grip through corners discourages you from being any more enthusiastic.

Ownership cost

What used Citroën Xsara hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Citroën Xsara hatchback?

The best thing about buying an ordinary car that's no longer current is that it's going to be cheap.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 value losses from you, but that's all past. Look after it and in a year's time it might even sell for what you gave for it.

Day to day, the Xsara is cheap to service and repair. It's not the most reliable car, though, so you'd be wise to budget for problems.

Insurance costs are average; the 1.4 models are group 6, the 1.6s and diesels are group 7 or 8, but the 1.8 is in group 10, which is dear. Fuel economy, too, is pretty reasonable: the 2.0 HDi promises up to 54mpg overall, which is exceptional, but the 1.9 D runs only 43 miles on a gallon. The 1.4 petrol returns up to 39mpg, the 1.6 manages 36mpg and the 1.8 will do 33mpg.

Our recommendations

Which used Citroën Xsara hatchback should I buy?

Big discounts kept sales of new Xsaras afloat during its later years, so many of the ones you'll be offered are low-end models, usually 1.4 LXs. However, prices are low enough to make the gap between base-spec and everything-as-standard models tiny. So it makes sense to buy the best-equipped model you can.

The 1.6 petrol and 2.0 HDi diesel are the ones to go for, and opt for the SX or Exclusive, which are the top two trims.

Avoid the 1.6 if it has an auto gearbox because they go wrong and are expensive to fix - see below.

The 1.4 is lively for its size but needs to be pushed hard if it's heavily loaded, while the 1.8 is not noticeably quicker than the 1.6, despite being thirstier and dearer to insure. The remaining choice is the 1.9 D, an old non-turbo that is gruff and not very economical.

Trim levels begin at X, moving to LX, SX and then Exclusive. X is too basic, and you'll need an LX for electric windows and remote locking, but we'd recommend SX, which comes with air-conditioning. Top-of-the-range Exclusive adds alloy wheels and a CD player.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Citroën Xsara hatchback?