The Xantia marked a serious assault on the fleet market when Citroen introduced it in 1993. Bigger and more upmarket than the BX which it replaced, the Xantia was offered as a genuine alternative to the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Cavalier.
Plus points include a superb ride, comfortable cabin, generous equipment and massive estates. Handling is good, especially on Activas, and prices for early examples are now well and truly bargain basement. Some buyers worry about potentially expensive hydraulic suspension problems, while others believe the Xantia isn't as well built or cheap to run as a Ford or Vauxhall. But do your research and it can be a great buy. Suspension fears are largely unwarranted, and diesels in particular have an impeccable reliability record.
* Suspension units usually last the lifetime of the car, providing they are properly maintained. The fluid should be changed every 36,000 miles.
* Black smoke and sluggish performance from early diesels can indicate that there are injector problems.
* Xantias have had a few electrical faults. The ECU may send the emission levels haywire, while window motors can have a mind of their own.
* Examine the clutch carefully, because replacing it can be pricey.
* It's rare to get more than 25,000 miles from of a set of brake pads, so keep an eye on their condition.
As it's been out of production for more than two years, the Xantia is often overlooked, says trade bible Glass's Guide. Cars are keenly priced to sell, so they offer incredible value, especially at the cheaper end, where you'll pick up a much nicer Xantia than a similar Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Vectra for the money. Reliability issues are largely unfounded, and diesels are more in demand than petrol models.
Life With A Xantia...
When he decided to change his Mitsubishi Space Wagon two years ago, Peter Robbins had two essential criteria which had to be met by its replacement. His new car had to be diesel powered - for good fuel economy - and it needed to be torquey enough to tow heavy loads.
"I had a shortlist of three cars," the 40-year-old landscape maintenance contractor from Uppingham, Rutland, told us. "The Ford Mondeo was counted out for being too expensive at the time, and the Peugeot 405, which I quite liked, was looking rather dated. That left the Xantia which, in comparison, seemed to represent incredible value for money." After much searching, Peter found the ideal candidate - a 1996 P-registered example with only 43,000 miles on the clock.
Today, 21,000 miles later, he is still happy with it. "I was concerned about potential problems with the suspension and electrics after what I'd heard from other people," he said. "But apart from worn glow plugs, my car has never needed anything more than routine maintenance. I think I've only replaced a couple of tyres and an exhaust backbox since I bought it." Peter loves the practicality of his Citroen, but reckons he could do with more lumbar support on long journeys. He also finds that the high bootlid restricts vision when reverse parking. But overall, Peter's experience with the Citroen has been pleasant, and he's thinking of eventually replacing the Xantia with a Xsara Picasso.
Although the best Xantia is the most recent 110bhp 2.0-litre HDi, older models make better financial sense, as they will have done most of their depreciating already. Estates are more desirable than hatchbacks, without being much costlier. Go for the 92bhp 1.9 TD in SX or VSX trim and you'll get a well equipped, comfortable, economical and useful car for very little cash.