Designer of the XM, Nuccio Bertone, alongside an XM
|Manufacturer||Citroën (PSA Group)|
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Mid-size luxury / Executive car (E)|
|Body style||5-door hatchback|
5-door station wagon
|Engine||2.0 L XU10 I4|
2.0L XU10 I4 16 valve
2.0L XU10 I4 Turbocharged
3.0L V6 12 valve
3.0L PRV V6 24 valve
2.9L ESL V6 24 valve
2.1L XUD11 I4 Diesel 12 valve
2.1L XUD11 I4 Turbodiesel 12 valve
2.5L DK5 I4 Turbodiesel 12 valve
|Wheelbase||hatchback:2,850 mm (112.2 in)|
station wagon:2,850 mm (112.2 in)
|Length||hatchback:4,708 mm (185.4 in)|
station wagon:4,963 mm (195.4 in)
1998–2000 station wagon: 4,950 mm (194.9 in)
|Width||hatchback:1,793 mm (70.6 in)|
station wagon:1,794 mm (70.6 in)
|Height||1,392 mm (54.8 in) (most Berline models); some turbo models 1,385 mm (54.5 in); 1,466 mm (57.7 in) (1998 V6 Break)|
|Curb weight||1,310 kg (2,888 lb)-1,550 kg (3,417 lb)|
The Citroën XM is an executive car that was produced by the French automaker Citroën between 1989 and 2000. Citroën sold 333,775 XMs during the model's 11 years of production. The XM was voted 1990 European Car of the Year.
Launched on 23 May 1989, the XM was the modern iteration of the Big Citroën, a flagship saloon replacement for the Citroën CX. It went on sale in its native France immediately afterwards, and was available in right-hand drive on the UK market from October 1989.
The XM estate was launched in the spring of 1991, until which time the estate version of the CX remained in production.
The XM inherited a loyal global customer base of executive class customers and a clear brand image, but did not enjoy the commercial success and iconic status of its predecessors, the CX and the DS, which both raised the bar of automotive performance for other manufacturers.
With total sales over its lifetime of just 330,000 units in 11 years, and the fact that its replacement Citroën C6 was not launched until the end of 2005 (despite being scheduled for launch in 2001), the XM might be considered a failure. By the second half of the 1990s, sales were in sharp decline, but Citroën did not end production of the car until 2000.
Despite its common roots with the Peugeot 605, the XM is already emerging as a collectible car, as the DS and CX both did.
Advances in Design
There were many advances, most apparently designed to counteract the main criticisms of its predecessor. The CX leaned in corners, so the XM had active electronic management of the suspension; the CX rusted, so the XM had a partially galvanised body shell (many surviving XMs have very little corrosion); the CX was underpowered, so the XM offered the option of a 3.0 L V6 engine – the first V6 in a Citroën since the Maserati-engined SM ceased production in the mid 1970s. When the estate model joined the line-up, Citroën had a competitor at almost every level with most other similar-sized European cars.
Ventilation was markedly more effective in the XM. Rear accommodation in the XM was improved over the CX in both width, legroom and height. In particular the rear passengers were seated higher than those in the front in order to afford a good view out, important for a vehicle which would operate in French government service. The XM shared a floorpan with the Peugeot 605, and the two models fared similarly in both teething problems and market acceptance. Unlike the 605 sedan design, the XM was a liftback design - a feature thought to be desirable in certain European markets - perhaps uniquely, it featured an additional glass panel that could lift with the tailgate but when shut, isolated the passenger compartment, to mimic the feel of a salon car.
XM was intended to compete against prestige vehicles like the Audi 100 and BMW's 5 Series in a sector that accounted for 14.2% of the European market. It also competed with cars from mainstream brands including the Ford Scorpio and Opel Omega. Citroën was quoted as saying that the car was supposed to "take what Citroën means and make it acceptable". The car's initial reception was positive. Some six months after its launch, The XM won the prestigious European Car of the Year award for 1990 (gaining almost twice as many votes as the second, the Mercedes-Benz SL) and went on to win a further 14 major awards within a year of its launch.
The anticipated annual sales of 450 cars a day in the first full year of production, or 160,000 units a year, never materialized. Sales never reached this ambitious level (higher than even its popular predecessor) for a variety of reasons. Like the CX, the XM did not have the worldwide distribution of competitors from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. Also, it was launched only a year before a major global recession began, impacting negatively on car sales across the world; a notable example being the UK, where more than 2.3 million new cars were registered in 1989, but that figure fell to less than 1.6 million in 1991 (a drop of more than 30% in just two years). In Japan the XM was sold through Mazda's Eunos dealership chain, part of an effort to minimize the appearance of Japan's automobile market being closed to imports. It was also offered by Citroën's traditional importer Seibu Motor, who kept selling the XM by themselves after the Eunos brand was discontinued in 1996.
The market for executive cars made by volume manufacturers (Ford, Opel, etc.) was on the verge of decline as customers opted for offerings from more prestigious marques, a trend which saw Ford pull out of this market sector in 1998[circular reference] and Opel in 2003.[circular reference] Customers were placing a higher priority on speed and handling rather than ride comfort which was Citroën's specialty. The XM was underdeveloped at launch which resulted in reliability problems; the vehicle as designed was inconsistent in its abilities. The XM's styling was also controversial and alienated those who desired a more conventional three box sedan. Peugeot introduced an XM competitor, the very similar Peugeot 605 that also sold weakly. Most subjective of all was the matter of the XM not living up to the expectations created by its forerunner the Citroën DS, despite that car having been launched in an era of national markets, of different demands and standards, an era when there was more scope for large advances in engineering and design than were possible in 1989.
Export markets experienced lower sales from the outset, partly due to the XM's pricing. The least expensive XM was nearly 50% more expensive at the time of launch than the corresponding CX. Whilst strong at first home market sales also declined, after the mechanical issues of the first few model years became known.
By early 1993, the XM was viewed as an "underachiever". Initial sales in the UK were at 3,500 units a year, making it Citroën's weakest seller. The 2.0-litre petrol engined variants were viewed as being the least competitive. As a result, Citroën restructured the range such that all but the base model petrols were fitted with low-inertia Garret turbochargers to add an extra 15 bhp (11 kW). This made the cars more powerful than more expensive competitors such as the Rover 820, Vauxhall Carlton and Ford Granada 2.0 GLX.
After a run of 11 years, production finally ended in June 2000. By 1998, Citroën had confirmed that it would soon be discontinuing the XM and replacing it with an all-new model. At the Geneva Motor Show in March 1999, it unveiled the C6 Lignage concept car, which was scheduled for launch in 2001. In the event, the XM's successor - the C6 - did not go on sale until late 2005 and was even less successful.
In mid-1994, the XM was revised in order to improve competitiveness. This did not materially impact sales.
All models were fitted with driver's airbag (signalling the end of the single-spoke steering wheel), belt-pretensioners, a redesigned dashboard and upper door casings. The suspension was redesigned to reduce roll, pitch and dive. Most noticeable was the adoption of a passive rear-steering system similar to that on the Citroën Xantia. This sharpened the "steering without inducing a nervous twitch." Power output on the turbocharged motor was increased to 150 bhp (112 kW; 152 PS) from 145 bhp (108 kW; 147 PS) at 4400 rpm. This allowed the car to develop more torque at much lower revs. The important 50–70 acceleration time was 8 seconds compared to the Ford Scorpio 2.0 16V Ghia's 17 seconds. The view of CAR magazine was that this engine "provides unusually swift access to effortless power ... it delivers progressively with commendably little fuss; that this 2.0 turbo is as refined as it is muscular makes the XM's performance all the more creditable".
The angular, dart-like Bertone design was a development of Marcello Gandini's Citroën BX concept. It was a longer car with a longer, inclined nose, more refined details and with headlamps that were much slimmer than the norm (Gandini's own XM proposal was rejected as looking too much like an Opel). The design process of the car was described in the journal Car Styling. In the article Citroën's design chief, Art Blakeslee, explained the appearance of the car, saying "I believe the XM is a modern and dynamic shape, with unique styling elements such as the very long, low hood, the extensive use of glass and the kick-up in the belt line". In the book Citroen XM another Citroën designer, Daniel Abramson, explained: "We lowered the belt line to give the shape a stronger image. It is purely a 'design statement' that is not functional and does nothing for the aerodynamics of the vehicle. We wanted a car that looks good from every angle". Abramson is also reported as saying that they "picked three areas to emphasise: 1) A very aggressive look ("Almost sinister"), 2) Lots of glass to create a greenhouse effect, and 3) An aerodynamic accent based on fact (low drag)".
Design critic Jonathan Meades described the XM as the last gothic car, as quoted by Stephen Bayley in "Design Made Visible" (2007). In 2013 Car magazine described the XM as one of Bertone's seven "game changer" designs, referring to its "cool" angular design and its "distinctive staggered beltline".
The hydropneumatic self-leveling suspension (featuring grapefruit-sized metal spheres containing nitrogen, acting as both springs and shock absorbers) gained a very sophisticated electronic control system called Hydractive. This system used sensors in the steering, brakes, suspension, throttle pedal and transmission to feed information on the car's speed, acceleration, and road conditions to on-board computers. Where appropriate – and within milliseconds – these computers switched an extra suspension sphere in or out of circuit, to allow the car a smooth supple ride in normal circumstances, or greater roll resistance for better handling in corners.
The Hydractive system was somewhat "ahead of the curve" when the car was launched and early versions were sometimes unreliable. Many problems stemmed from the sensitive electronics controlling the car's hydraulic system, often caused by the poor quality of the multipoint grounding blocks – one on each front inner wing, one at the rear, and one under the dashboard. These tended to corrode (especially the ones in the engine compartment), causing all manner of intermittent faults which were hard to diagnose. On later cars, these were changed to screw terminals bolted through the bodywork, and most of the older cars have been modified in a similar way.
When the Hydractive system worked, the result was a big car with a smooth "magic carpet" ride, and better handling than many smaller, lighter, sports cars. When it didn't work, it was quite harsh and bumpy, although no worse than any contemporary high-performance sports sedan. However, right-hand drive XMs were never fitted with the DIRAVI variable fully powered steering of the CX, having an almost conventional DIRASS power-assisted setup.
Although the Hydractive suspension coped superbly with undulations and driving at speed, it could be unexpectedly harsh if a sudden change in road height was encountered at moderate speed - eg lateral ridges or speed bumps. Citroën finally addressed this, and for Xantia (which shared the Hydractive system with XM) came up with a modified design of the suspension (centre sphere) regulator valves, which made them immune to hydraulic impulses produced by the road surface, and which could push the older-type valves into Firm mode, just when this wasn't needed. The modified valves were fitted to production Xantias from 8 March 1999 (and were available as replacements), but were not fitted to XM, which was nearing end of production. Interest in these new-type valves has led to a good few XM owners successfully fitting them, and benefiting from a noticeable improvement in smoothness and consistency of ride.
Some production models of the XM were not equipped with the Hydractive system, but had a 'conventional' hydropneumatic suspension closer to that of the Citroën BX. These lower specification vehicles were all built for markets in mainland Europe.
The XM was fitted with a wide range of gasoline and diesel engines:
|Model||Engine||Displacement||Valvetrain||Fuel system||Max. power at rpm||Max. torque at rpm||0–100 km/h (0-62 mph)||Top speed||Years|
|2.0||XU10 2C||1,998 cc||SOHC 8v||Carburettor||114 PS (84 kW; 112 hp) at 5,800 rpm||164 N⋅m (121 lb⋅ft) at 2,250 rpm||12.2 s||193 km/h (120 mph)||1989–1992|
|2.0 cat||XU10 2C||1,998 cc||SOHC 8v||Carburettor||107 PS (79 kW; 106 hp) at 5,600 rpm||164 N⋅m (121 lb⋅ft) at 2,250 rpm||12.4 s||190 km/h (118 mph)||1989–1992|
|2.0 i cat||XU10||1,998 cc||SOHC 8v||Single-point fuel injection||110 PS (81 kW; 108 hp) at 5,600 rpm||164 N⋅m (121 lb⋅ft) at 3,500 rpm||12.4 s||190 km/h (118 mph)||1989–1994|
|2.0 i||XU10 M||1,998 cc||SOHC 8v||Multi-point fuel injection||128 PS (94 kW; 126 hp) at 5,600 rpm||175 N⋅m (129 lb⋅ft) at 4,800 rpm||11.5 s||205 km/h (127 mph)||1989–1992|
|2.0 i cat||XU10 J2C (RFU)||1,998 cc||SOHC 8v||Multi-point fuel injection||121 PS (89 kW; 119 hp) at 5,600 rpm||170 N⋅m (125 lb⋅ft) at 4,000 rpm||11.9 s||201 km/h (125 mph)||1989–1994|
|2.0 i 16V||XU10 J4R (RFV)||1,998 cc||DOHC 16v||Multi-point fuel injection||132 PS (97 kW; 130 hp) at 5,500 rpm||180 N⋅m (133 lb⋅ft) at 4,200 rpm||10.8 s||205 km/h (127 mph)||1994–2000|
|2.0 i Turbo CT||XU10 J2TE (RGY)||1,998 cc||SOHC 8v||Multi-point fuel injection||141 PS (104 kW; 139 hp) at 4,400 rpm||225 N⋅m (166 lb⋅ft) at 2,200 rpm||9.8 s||212 km/h (132 mph)||1992–1994|
|2.0 i Turbo CT||XU10 J2TE (RGX)||1,998 cc||SOHC 8v||Multi-point fuel injection||147 PS (108 kW; 145 hp) at 5,300 rpm||235 N⋅m (173 lb⋅ft) at 2,500 rpm||9.3 s||215 km/h (134 mph)||1994–2000|
|3.0 i V6||PRV ZPJ S6A||2,975 cc||SOHC 12v||Multi-point fuel injection||167 PS (123 kW; 165 hp) at 5,600 rpm||235 N⋅m (173 lb⋅ft) at 4,600 rpm||8.9 s||222 km/h (138 mph)||1989–1993|
|3.0 i V6||PRV ZPJ S6A||2,963 cc||SOHC 12v||Multi-point fuel injection||167 PS (123 kW; 165 hp) at 5,600 rpm||235 N⋅m (173 lb⋅ft) at 4,600 rpm||9.7 s||222 km/h (138 mph)||1993–1997|
|3.0 i V6 24V||PRV ZPJ4 SKZ||2,975 cc||SOHC 24v||Multi-point fuel injection||200 PS (147 kW; 197 hp) at 6,000 rpm||260 N⋅m (192 lb⋅ft) at 3,600 rpm||8.6*2 s||235 km/h (146 mph)||1990–1993|
|3.0 i V6 24V||PRV ZPJ4 SKZ||2,963 cc||SOHC 24v||Multi-point fuel injection||200 PS (147 kW; 197 hp) at 6,000 rpm||260 N⋅m (192 lb⋅ft) at 3,600 rpm||8.6*2 s||235 km/h (146 mph)||1993–1996|
|3.0 i V6 24V||ES9 J4 (XFX)||2,946 cc||DOHC 24v||Multi-point fuel injection||194 PS (143 kW; 191 hp) at 5,500 rpm||267 N⋅m (197 lb⋅ft) at 4,500 rpm||8.4 s||233 km/h (145 mph)||1997–2000|
|2.1 D12||XUD11 A (PJZ)||2,138 cc||SOHC 12v||Indirect injection||82 PS (60 kW; 81 hp) at 4,600 rpm||147 N⋅m (108 lb⋅ft) at 2,000 rpm||17.6 s||173 km/h (107 mph)||1989–1994|
|2.1 Turbo D12||XUD11 ATE (PHZ)||2,088 cc||SOHC 12v||Indirect injection||109 PS (80 kW; 108 hp) at 4,300 rpm||235 N⋅m (173 lb⋅ft) at 2,000 rpm||12.4 s||192 km/h (119 mph)||1989–1994|
|2.1 Turbo D12||XUD11 BTE (P8C)||2,088 cc||SOHC 12v||Indirect injection||109 PS (80 kW; 108 hp) at 4,300 rpm||250 N⋅m (184 lb⋅ft) at 2,000 rpm||12.9 s||192 km/h (119 mph)||1994–2000|
|2.5 Turbo D12||DK5 ATE/L (THY)||2,446 cc||SOHC 12v||Indirect injection||129 PS (95 kW; 127 hp) at 4,300 rpm||285 N⋅m (210 lb⋅ft) at 2,000 rpm||12.1 s||201 km/h (125 mph)||1994–2000|
*2 The Citroën "official" numbers for 0–100 km/h for XM 3,0 V6.24 was from year 1991 listed to 8,0 s. From 1993 or 1994 the number was for "unknown" reasons changed to 8,6 s (documented in sales brochures 1991 to 1994). Similar changes (longer times) was also introduced at the same time for most other motors in the XM.
Being part of the PSA Peugeot-Citroën company, most of these engines were found in contemporary PSA cars, like the Citroën Xantia, Citroën C5, Peugeot 405, Peugeot 406 and Peugeot 605. The ZF 4HP18 automatic transmission – the late V6 had 4HP20 – was used also in Saab 9000, Peugeot 605, Alfa Romeo 164, Lancia Thema and the Fiat Croma.
Dimensions and weights
- Length: 4,709 mm (185.4 in) (Berline) or 4,950 mm (194.9 in) (Break) or 4,963 mm (195.4 in) (1998 V6 Break)
- Width: 1,793 mm (70.6 in)
- Height: 1,392 mm (54.8 in) (most Berline models); some turbo models 1,385 mm (54.5 in); 1,466 mm (57.7 in) (1998 V6 Break)
- Wheelbase: 2,850 mm (112.2 in)
- Ground clearance: 140 mm (5.5 in)
- Weight: 1,310 kg (2,888 lb) (2.0i Berline) – 1,400 kg (3,086 lb) (2.0 Turbo Berline) – 1,453 kg (3,203 lb) (Turbo Break) – 1,475 kg (3,252 lb) (1990 V6) – 1,642 kg (3,620 lb) (Turbo 2.5D Break) – 1,655 kg (3,649 lb) (1998 V6 Break)
- Fuel tank capacity: 80 L (21 US gal; 18 imp gal)
The XM's reliability became suspect due to a problem with the quality of electrical connector used.
Cost-cutting on the components was needed since the parent company was in financial difficulty at the time of the design of the XM. Between 1980 and 1984 the company lost $1.5 billion. 
Poor connections would stop the car, and require extensive investigation by a trained mechanic to repair. This point was driven home in one of the final reviews of 2000, when Richard Bremner's polemical “Parting Shot” essay in Car (magazine) emphasized these electrical faults. Bremner paid less attention to the remediation of the problem and to the fact that changed market conditions meant demand for the XM was never going to be the same as for its predecessor.
XM suffered from poor resale value, which affected sales of new cars.
Quentin Willson predicted in 1990 that the XM's residuals would be better than the outgoing CX by the end of the car's life, its resale value was far below average, further denting the car's appeal.
By the mid-1990s, it was apparent that the XM's image meant it was less desirable than German products such as the BMW 5 Series. The view of the XM as commercially unsuccessful is reported by Compucars, the used car website, along with numerous other period commentaries (see "Critical Appraisal" below.)
Differences between 1st and 2nd generations
There are a number of visible differences between the first generation (May 1989 – May 1994) and second generation (June 1994 – June 2000) cars:
The most distinctive external differences are that:
- In second generation XMs, the Citroën double-chevron logo was moved to the centre of the grille and became larger. It was located off-centre in the first generation cars.
- The "XM" badge on the rear had a more stylised font (like that on the Xantia) and it was moved to the right of the tailgate.
- The second generation cars were fitted with a lower rear spoiler on the tailgate, sitting much closer to the top of the boot.
- The grey/black panel between the leading edge of the windscreen and the rear edge of the bonnet was colour-coded with the body colour. The original colouring was designed to echo the upward kick in the window line behind the rear door. With body coloured plastic this visual relationship became less clear and the "visual mass" of the front of the car increased somewhat. This effect was clearer on light coloured cars where the contrast between the dark areas and light areas was more pronounced.
- The door mirrors were modified to improve the view of the passenger side mirror from the driver's seat. Previously it was slightly obscured by the A-pillar. However, the obscuration only affected the field of view above the road horizon which is relatively less important.
Differences to the interior include:
- A more conventional four-spoke steering wheel including an integrated airbag. The driver airbag was standard on most models and countries, regardless of hand-drive configuration. As a result, the second generation models never had Citroën's distinctive single-spoke wheel. In certain markets (mainly the UK) and for certain models, XMs of the first generation were fitted with a two-spoke wheel after mid-1992.
- A modified instrument panel, to accommodate an optional passenger airbag (standard after December 1995). Also, in 1997, front seat-mounted side airbags were added, which were optional or standard depending on model and market. The design was similar to the Xantia's dashboard.
- The quality of the interior materials was marginally improved, with the leather and the seating being both softer but more supportive.
- The upper part of door trim were redesigned to soften the shape. Series 1 cars had a pronounced chamfer-effect in keeping with the angular theme of the dashboard.
- The driver and all passengers comfort was further enhanced (on Exclusive models) by variable heat seating, rather than as before just "on or off", with a dial switch allowing a heat setting of 1, 2, or 3.
Other major improvements include:
- Better, more reliable electrics and a faster computer system controlling the new Hydractive 2 suspension.
- Some models also received the "Auto Adaptive" gearbox, which supposedly assesses the driver's driving style, then switches to the most appropriate of approximately six onboard programmes. This gearbox was further enhanced by a "Sport" mode button (in addition to the sports button for the suspension), which shortened the gear change times, therefore offering a more responsive experience. The final new upgrade effecting the driving experience saw the introduction of a "Snow Mode" button, located next to the new sport mode button. Although rarely used in some countries, this was a surprisingly effective addition to the driver's arsenal; during any notable falls of snow that may affect the road ahead, a simple push of this button commands the gearbox to only accelerate from 2nd gear and up, and not to rev the engine too high, thus preventing any loss of traction.
In addition, the following changes were made to make the car easier to accept by more mainstream car buyers:
- As a direct consequence of their high pressure hydraulics, early XM brake pedals had very little, if any, travel. Phase 2 XMs had some sponginess deliberately built into the braking system (by inserting a sleeved spring into the pedal linkage) to make their brakes feel more like those on other cars.
- The Phase 2 "Hydractive 2" cars no longer "settled" down to the bottom of their suspension travel after having been parked for a while; this feature was termed "Anti-Sink" by Citroën. Such systems have even more complex hydraulics than 'Sinkers' because of the use of isolating valves and an extra sphere near the rear 'axle'. The hydraulic systems were also a lot quieter when maneuvering; this was due to the changes the "Anti-Sink" system brought. Early cars, 'sinkers', had a single output hydraulic pump which had its output divided into separate circuits, one for the power steering and one for the suspension/brake circuits (power steering needs a large flow rate whereas the suspension/brakes doesn't). The device which does this job is called a FDV (Flow Diverter Value), and this device hisses noticeably when the car is standing still or maneuvering. A slight pull on the steering wheel or a blip of the throttle will stop the hiss for a few seconds or so. Later "Anti-Sink" cars have a dual output pump, referred to as a 6+2 pump due to the number of internal piston chambers. Such cars therefore have no need of the "FDV" and therefore do not hiss.
The DIRAVI functions
A function much missed by Citroën enthusiasts was the "DIRAVI" System, previously present in the SM and CX. This option was only available for the French or LHD Export market and then only on the 3.0 V6 models. The functionality varied from car to car, but simply put the system affects steering control, at lower speeds less steering centering force aids parking and make city driving easier, but at higher speeds the system makes the steering heavier keeping you in a straight line on highways and suppressing the "sneeze" factor inherent to fast steering ratios. Another helpful function of DIRAVI is its ability to return the steering wheel to its central or neutral position when let go by the driver, even when the car is stationary. This is especially helpful when parking as the driver can be assured that his or her wheels will be in the correct position when the ignition is turned off; again this function also aids high speed, straight line driving on highways etc. Although an odd sensation to start with, most Citroën drivers become accustomed to DIRAVI in a very short time, only appreciating its unique abilities when they let go of the steering wheel in a car without DIRAVI, only to find nothing happens. DIRAVI makes the tendency of all cars' steering to return to center constant in DIRAVI equipped Citroëns, rather than being affected by tire adhesion, road tilt, tire pressure, tire failure, etc.
The standard 5-door models were called "Berline". The XM was also available as a "Break" (station wagon) – and in France, Tissier continued a tradition begun with the DS and CX, converting many to be used as ambulances and specialised delivery vehicles including their distinctive twin rear-axle conversions.
Although not an official variant XMs produced around 1992/1993 have been termed series 1.5 cars due to the mix of newer technology (developed for the series 2) with the series 1 vehicle type. One example of this being the alterations to the "Hydractive" suspension system on such cars. Early vehicles (series 1) had a system that could be switched from 'Comfort' to 'Sport' mode, this did exactly what you would expect and firmed up the suspension on flicking the switch but this made for a harsh ride which Citroën owners don't like. So Citroën developed "Hydractive 2" suspension (for series 2 vehicles) that although in essence was the same it worked differently, it still had to two states 'hard' and 'soft' but the switching was controlled differently. In general smooth gentle driving the suspension would be in 'soft' mode ("Normal" mode according to Citroën on series 2 vehicles) which utilized all 6 suspension spheres and allowed 'crossflow' of fluid from side to side producing the characteristic wafting ride, but as soon as the suspension ECU sensed a large or sudden change in one of the sensors it would put the suspension into 'hard' mode locking out the extra centre spheres and stopping the 'crossflow' of fluid, this dramatically firmed up the suspension and cut body roll, as soon as the vehicle stabilized the ECU would switch the suspension system back into 'soft' mode. This is the basis of "Hydractive 2", a soft cosseting ride all the time unless the conditions demand otherwise, switching a "Hydractive 2" vehicle into "Sport" mode doesn't just switch out the extra spheres as with "Hydractive 1", it simply just narrows the parameters that cause the suspension to go into 'hard' mode and keeps the suspension in that mode for longer before defaulting back to 'soft' mode. So a series 1.5 vehicle has the styling of a series 1 but with some of the suspension refinements of the series 2 vehicles. There are other detail changes to the actual implementation of the "Hydractive" but unless you are maintaining the vehicle yourself these are unimportant.
The XM was reviewed by numerous automotive magazines during the course of its life. These reviews were generally favorable, if inconsistent, particularly concerning the car's ride quality and appearance. Eventually, reviewers had set up a vicious circle where the car was criticized for not selling and this was offered as a reason not to buy one.
The suspension, for example, was praised by Car during testing in 1989 when “the XM showed the most exceptional side of its character. The new big Citroën has the finest suspension of any car yet made, as well as the most advanced”. Autocar compared the XM 3.0 V6 to the BMW 535 and Rover 800 (2.6 litre V6) and found that the XM's suspension allowed "some bump combinations" to bring "unexpected reactions from the suspension" but concluded the XM presented a "remarkable display of chassis competence".'
Performance Car commended the suspension's suppleness but also noted firmness over small surfaces irregularities. Autocar contrasted the car's competence at "controlling wheel and body motion when traversing bumps and dips" but there were some instances when the vehicle's pliancy was "mediocre" by provoking "annoying harshness through the body shell". In 1994 the XM was described as a car “that floats the car over foundation bumps, though it deals less smoothly with surface abrasions”. Benchmarked against the Mercedes E-class W124, the XM was ranked as superior in 1991. When compared to the BMW 5 Series E34 the same journal considered it both inferior and superior.
The XM was reviewed by the British weekly Autocar in May 1989 as "the best riding car in the world". Autocar's conclusion (based on a test of a French specification 3.0-litre V6 model and a 2.0-litre four)) was that "the Germans will need to treat this car with a great deal of respect". The XM was described as having a "superb ride from a suspension capable of cushioning the worst bumps". Autocar said that the Citroën had made a "major advance" over previous versions of the hydropneumatic suspension system, with the ability of the suspension to stiffen up and provide "precise and responsive handling". The interior was described as "roomy", with German competitors seeming "decidedly cramped" by comparison. Only the Ford Scorpio was deemed to rival the XM in passenger accommodation but "even it can't match the XM's comfort levels with its deep, high mounted cushion and tall backrest offering a rare level of opulence". The interior build quality was praised and the interior cabin was "agreeable". The driver's seats were "supportive and comfortable". The low waist gave the car "an incredibly spacious feeling".
In June 1989, CAR Magazine published a full test of the car in V6 guise. The magazine discussed the difficulty of replacing the Citroën CX and the writer, Gavin Green, reported that managing director Xavier Karcher chose a design consistent with the BX rather than developing the outgoing car's themes. Green commented that "People will either love or hate the look of the XM for, like any car that inspires strong feelings, the CX-successor is distinctive. For that, if nothing else, Citroën deserve credit". He described the appearance as "displeasing" with an "awkward, kicked-up hip-line". Green reported the XM's directional stability in "gale force winds" while other cars "including our own photographic Citroën BX – nervously side-stepped their way forward ..." On secondary roads "the XM showed the most exceptional side of its character. The new big Citroën has the finest suspension of any car yet made, as well as the most advanced". Green's said that "in soft mode, the car rides just as deftly as a Rolls-Royce, probably better: the suspension feels more compliant than the CX's. In sports setting the XM handles beautifully, far less body roll and pitch than that which betrayed the CX. Only the car's bulk prevents you from staying with the GTis ... It feels like a CX all the same ... there is that same wonderful sense of detachment from the road surface". The steering was described as inferior to the CX in that the ratio was reduced from 13.5:1 to 17:1, and that the XM has 3.25 turns lock to lock versus 2.5 on the CX. CAR noted that the interior was "utterly and depressingly conventional" other than the single-spoke steering wheel. "The indicators are sited on a large, self-cancelling stalk, rather than on dainty and ergonomically superior rockers". The author referred to "a row of push button switches, all from the PSA parts bin ... scattered just below the steering wheel".'Photos show two arrays of buttons grouped on an inclined plane, within the radius of the steering wheel. On the credit side "the XM's cabin is trimmed in attractive plastics and velours of a higher quality than that which used to clothe the CX's interior". On general assembly: "Paint finish, panel gaps, general solidity, interior finish – in every area the XM is streets ahead [of the CX]". The general roominess was noted, and the visibility was summed up as follows: "You have a much more panoramic view of the road and scenery in an XM than in a CX. The beltline is very low – below shoulder level for most drivers – and the windscreen seems vast."
The conclusion of the article was that "the XM is a much better car than the CX ... faster, sharper, roomier, better made and more comfortable; it is all these things as well as being distinctive to the eye. It's also the most comfortable car in its class: in absolute terms only a Jaguar or Rolls-Royce can match it ... It is a far better car than I thought, a far more intriguing car than I feared."
Autocar & Motor described the XM's V6 as offering a competitive 177 bhp (132 kW; 179 PS). The reviewer wrote that the engine while benefiting from many technical refinements lacked the "silky smoothness of a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz [in-line] six". However, low-end flexibility was "impressive" and mid-range response "strong." Overall performance was "formidable". Discussing the 2.0-litre variant, Autocar said that when shifting "you'll find the XM corners with an agility, the steering turning in sharply [...] poise and cornering balance are marvelous; straight line stability is excellent." The brakes "performed superbly".
Autocar's criticisms related to the "bland" frontal styling and the "awkward" sharply rising waistline (though overall, Autocar judged the car to be "elegantly proportioned"). Noise suppression was also rated mediocre for the V6. However, the 2.0-litre compared favourably to the Audi 100. The 2.0-litre XM didn't "feel as quick as the figures indicate".
In August 1989, Autocar & Motor did a group test of the XM versus what it termed the best- and best-selling executive cars in the UK: the BMW 535i and Rover 800 2.6 V6. The XM's cabin was described as being of "near Germanic quality" and "spacious", airier than the BMW but less luxurious that the Rover. The magazine considered the exterior styling "more conformist" but "still recognisably Citroën". In summing up, Autocar felt that both Rover and BMW could offer strong competition to the XM. The magazine was impressed with the Rover's V6 and automatic transmission which could be purchased for less by means of selecting carefully from the options list. Whilst the BMW 530i was more expensive than the XM, most of the vehicle's best features (driving position, styling, best chassis) could be found in a cheaper 520i. The XM was not viewed by Autocar & Motor as the best driver's car, as it left the driver "too isolated from the action". For Autocar & Motor, it was a close second, with the XM as the "most spacious, practical and comfortable for five [...] solidly built and generally as well finished as the other pair". Autocar & Motor decided that good as it was, the XM would have a difficult job winning sales from the established competition.
Autocar tested the 2.0 SEi in November 1989. Their verdict was that the XM was "an extraordinary looking machine, capable of extraordinary feats" but said the XM was an "acquired taste" though its "considerable virtues [were] accessible". The 2-litre XU-series engine came in for the most criticism. Autocar described its performance and economy as being disappointing, "standing at odds with the smoothness and finesse that seem to be so much a part of the car". The magazine listed the XM 2.0 SEi's rivals as being the BMW E34 520SE, Ford Granada Scorpio 2.0i, Mercedes Benz 200E Auto, the Rover 820 Si and the Vauxhall Carlton 2.0i CDX. Autocar judged the Rover (launched in 1986) to be the best buy in the class, based on its low price, the performance of its engine, its "attractive" shape, cruising ability and standard equipment.
What Car tested the XM 2.0 (8v) Si against the Renault 25 GTX, Lancia Thema CDi and Saab 9000 2.0 16v. The XM came second overall. The magazine summarized its test as follows "The XM is an impressive car in many respects, particularly in its excellent interior spaciousness, and for the confirmed Citroën enthusiast the oleo pneumatic suspension, super sharp steering and brakes will be a major attraction. It's a great long distance cruiser but is let down by mediocre outright performance. Many will consider the XM to have outstanding elegance and style, a brilliant car that stands out among the current crop of jelly-mould, computer-designs. Others will be put off in the first ten minutes by what they see as the oversharp steering and brakes." Concerning the ride quality, What Car noted that while the overall ride was of a high quality, the XM was unable to absorb short, sharp irregularities.
In January 1990 UK's Car Magazine ran a comparison of the 2.0 Si against the BMW 520i and Lancia Thema 16V 2.0 in a review of lower-end executive sector cars. The article says, "Citroën expects business buyers to account for 80% of the 9000 XMs it hopes to shift in 1990... This is the middle trim level of a range that is extremely well-equipped, presumably as an inducement to forget your preconceptions." CAR called the XM "a rather exotic dish for executives raised on a staple of Granadas, Carltons, Rovers." The theme of polarizing styling was repeated in the 1990 review: "Anyone who feared that Citroën's individuality might perish in PSA Group's drive for increased sales and profitability will be heartened by the XM. There's a touch of love it or loathe it about the styling, but there's no denying that it is striking." The slim Valeo headlamps design helped to make feasible the "low, penetrating front end" styling. While the Citroën had a drag coefficient of 0.28, the BMW 520's was 0.30 and the Lancia's was 0.32. The article explained that the UK market XM's were not fitted with the self-centering power-steering because "buyers here don't like it." Regarding performance, the Lancia recorded a 0–60 mph time of 9.6 seconds versus 12.4 for the Citroën and 10.6 for the BMW. The Thema was "the most mettlesome of the trio" due to sharp throttle responses and engine sound quality. The XM was marked down for the coarseness of the 2.0-litre XU series engine which was "rough and noisy. There's no pleasure to be gained from revving it hard. Yet this is precisely what you must do to proceed with any sort of haste." Performance was reckoned to be "par for the class. Above 80 mph acceleration falls off dramatically, a victim of a tall top gear." The fuel economy of all three cars was considered "poor" under test conditions. The XM's braking action was "the least satisfactory of the group." Under roadholding, "the XM introduces a new motoring experience to those who don't work as engineers on active ride projects – the flat cornering attitude. In medium speed bends, the XM scurries around with little discernable body roll, wheels upright and all four tyres planted firmly on the tarmac. Body roll isn't entirely cancelled out, though as Hydractive doesn't act as an anti-roll bar, it merely stiffens spring and damper rates. In tight, fast corners the XM leans like any conventional car. When grip from the XM's 195/60 Michelin MXV2s runs out the Citroën starts to understeer gently. The tail can feel a bit light if you lift off part of the way around the corner, but it's a sensation that doesn't develop into anything more sinister." The steering was criticized for lack of feel at high speeds. The XM cabin was praised for its solid quality and roominess though the Lancia was reckoned to be as wide and had as much front head room and rear legroom. The BMW was comparatively less spacious. "Rear seat riders are best off in the XM, where they enjoy the most headroom of the group ... put the centre armrest down, and there is a soft armchair quality to the seats. The front chairs are similar, yet they manage to locate you well when pressing on, and remain comfortable on long journeys." About the ride quality the reviewer wrote that "the XM's ride quality is a big disappointment, especially at low speeds. Fractured urban road surfaces make it thud noisily, while it pummels rather than absorbs, the contusions. It's jittery around town and will slap its tyres over ridges. A BX feels more composed in the same conditions. At higher speeds the XM is more impressive." In comparison, the BMW was reckoned to have a "ride superior to that of the Citroën." There were "occasional flashes of brilliance from the XM's chassis, but for the majority of the time it is outshone by the BMW." Under driver appeal, the relatively thick a-pillar, foot-operated park brake and obstructed passenger-side mirror came in for criticism. To drive the car "practice is required to drive it fluidly." On the inside "the XM's cabin is cossetting and is a relaxing place to spend a full day of motorway driving. The quality of trim is easily the best ever to adorn a Citroën, and looks plusher than that of the plainer BMW." The conclusion of the article was that the BMW won the test against "all comers in the 2.0 litre class", primarily for its completeness and engineering quality. But "in spite of its faults you can't help be intrigued by the XM. You get the feeling that there is a lot to be learned about the car over an extended period of ownership, a hidden facet that can only be revealed by familiarity. And there's the satisfaction of driving a car that looks so distinctive." Reported fuel consumption for the cars at 75 mph (121 km/h) were: Citroën 34.9 mpg‑imp (8.1 L/100 km; 29.1 mpg‑US), Lancia 34.4 mpg‑imp (8.2 L/100 km; 28.6 mpg‑US) and BMW 32.1 mpg‑imp (8.8 L/100 km; 26.7 mpg‑US).
In March 1990 Autocar & Motor reviewed the 2.0 turbo diesel variant, labelled Turbo SD. The car's plus points were its economy, space, excellent ride and handling. The negative aspects of the XM were the slow turbo response, engine refinement and gearchange. In detail, Autocar & Motor described the instrumentation as "excellent" and the accommodation as "generous." The chassis was judged to be "superb, combining fail-safe handling with a pliant ride". Ventilation through-put was described as "excellent". The overall the ride quality was commended as "almost unbeatable" for its capacity to "swallow up persistent motorway undulations almost as if they didn't exist" and to "spit out surface imperfections as if they didn't exist". It was admitted that though not often there were conditions the XM's suspension handled less well. These were transverse ridges or some instances where "some surfaces produce an unpleasant rocking or pitching motion" In summary, Autocar & Motor's view was that "in turbodiesel form, the XM is a fast and effortless long-distance tourer that was always return excellent economy of such a roomy car. Yes, refinement and noise-suppression could be better, and the controls lack the engineered slickness of a BMW or a Mercedes but the XM is a welcome addition to the growing ranks of diesel-powered cars and in interesting alternative to conventional petrol-driven saloons."
CAR magazine tested the diesel variant in July 1990. CAR's opinion was that "a weekend trip to Bavaria proved this latest addition to the XM range to be a very competent and economical long-hauler. At more moderate British road speeds, we have managed 43mpg in mixed running with four people aboard." In this review the car was viewed as being superior to a BMW 5 Series: "Early in the trip the car was uncannily smooth over the bumpy back roads between Calais and Dunkirk. On German autobahns, travelling at speeds which turn bends into corners, the XM remained impressively flat as the suspension altered to cope with high cornering loads. We made the trip accompanied by a BMW 535i, which rolled appreciably more through fast bends, and passengers who tried both cars preferred the XM." Points of criticism were again, the left-side mirror and rear headroom: " The most serious [problem] is ungenerous rear headroom, though three passengers of average height found the rear bench comfortable for a 12-hour journey. More irritating, because avoidable, is the nearside mirror, which is partially obscured by the A-pillar. This deficiency is particularly noticeable on the continent, when you need the mirror for overtaking." The foot-operated parking brake was also criticized: "... four days weren’t enough to dispel our annoyance with the US-style foot-operated parking brake. We noted sourly that you would probably fail a driving test in the XM, because you cannot apply the brake (using your left foot) until you have put the car in neutral." In conclusion, CAR's view was that "the XM is a car that grows on you, and in Turbo Diesel form, it's cheap to operate. If you're contemplating high mileages, particularly abroad where diesel is sensibly priced much cheaper than petrol, it’s well worth considering the stiff extra price of the oil-burner. If you care about reducing carbon dioxide emissions by improving fuel consumption, the XM Turbo Diesel offers dramatic gains without sacrificing big-car virtues."
Tested by Autocar against the Alfa Romeo Cloverleaf V6, the V6 version of the XM was placed ahead, but the car was described as "an uneven performer - high ability but somewhat retarded in the finesse department". Reservations related to the gear change and the ride quality over rough road surfaces.
In February 1991, Car Magazine tested the XM in V6 form alongside ten other executive cars (Alfa Romeo 164 V6 Lusso, BMW 525i 24v, Ford Scorpio 2.9 EFi, Jaguar XJ6 3.2, Mercedes Benz 260E, Peugeot 605 3.0 SVE, Rover Sterling, Saab 9000 CDs 2.3 turbo, Vauxhall Senator CD 3.0i and Volvo 960 3.0i-24). The winner was the Jaguar with the XM in second place. The summary was that "... the Citroën in second place impressed us enormously. The XM is the most advanced car here, the precursor of even better things to come. Such are the Citroën's accomplishments that we'd have put it first had its refinement measured up that of the Peugeot stablemate." The Peugeot shared the same engine as the Citroën but in the Peugeot installation it was more refined and less "inexplicably throbby." In terms of styling CAR preferred the originality of the XM to the anonymity of the Peugeot: "criticize the fussy, multi-pillared super-structure if you will but the XM eschews convention and for that we applaud this individualistic car." For performance, the XM was praised for its robust acceleration (9.3 seconds to 60 mph ) and its top speed (133 mph). Under roadholding and handling: "Hydractive suspension engenders unique feel, making the XM like no other car. Sharp steering and limpet cornering give uncanny responses, modest body roll and terrific composure. Torque steer seldom a problem. Brakes strong and sensitive." The report for the accommodation and comfort noted that the instrument dials were too small and that minor switches were mounted too low, out of sight (they are inside the radius of the steering wheel). The hatchback boot was described as "massive" and "can be extended by folding the seats." The XM interior was described as "plush, its seats soft, supportive and electric." The XM tied with the Ford Granada for having the most rear-legroom. The rear was described as "spacious." With the head restraint of the front seat set to its minimum height rear passengers enjoyed an uninterrupted view out through the windscreen. The model tested was an automatic and cost 25,330 GBP versus the Jaguar's 27,500 GBP price.
Benchmarked against the Mercedes E-class, CAR rated it as superior in 1991. When compared to the BMW 5 Series the same journal considered it both inferior and superior. By 1994, the XM was described as a car that “deals less smoothly with surface abrasions”. Motoring magazine programme Top Gear, reviewing the "high speed hold-all" market, compared the XM estate with the Audi 100 in 1991 (Season 14, episode 16). The presenter reported Citroën's claim that its XM had the world's largest estate loading bay and went on to say: "with this high rear window line you have truly a vast volume of space hidden from prying eyes." The load capacity of the boot was cited as 25 cubic feet with the load bay tonneau removed, helped by a "low sill and a spare tyre you get at from underneath." The Audi 100 had less concealed load space, a flimsy cover and less load space overall. The Audi's maximum capacity was 44 cubic feet versus the Citroën's 69 cubic feet. On driving quality, the XM "is acknowledged to have one of the finest ride qualities in the world and the estate version is just as good." But the minor controls were said to be "intimidating" and the high rear window line was criticized for its effect on outward visibility. "Behind the helm the XM shows itself to be a disarmingly fine car," reported the presenter. "Its poised magic carpet ride and velvetty drive train make for gentle and unruffled progress." At autobahn speed the car was said to be able "to soak up every pimple and declivity without so much as a solitary thud." With improved quality, shorter service intervals and good looks the "Top Gear" view was that residual values "should stay healthy."
The 1992 edition of the Daily Mail Motor review, edited by Michael Kemp described the styling as "modern but sometimes awkward." The "high speed roadholding is disappointing", but the XM was a "well equipped and comfortable luxury car with fine engine options."
The revised 2.0 turbo model was tested in February 1993 by Autocar. Autocar's view was that fitting a turbo-charger avoided turbo lag, but "there's no mistaking the engine's hesitant nature at low revs, making smooth first gear getaways ... unnecessarily awkward". However, the turbo-charged version was a "swift performer" with 60 mph (97 km/h) achieved in 8.2 seconds versus the non-turbo's 11.2 seconds. Top speed increased to 131 mph (211 km/h), ahead of the Ford Granada and Vauxhall Carlton. The XM was commended for its motorway handling, with low rpms at cruising speed and "excellent" overtaking ability. Engine noise was reduced, addressing earlier criticisms. The ride was improved by a recalibration of the engine's mounting points. In summary, "add this new found refinement and performance to the XM's other strengths, most noticeably its superb ride and excellent cabin space, and you'd be hard pushed to find a better motorway mile-eater." All in all, the revisions to the XM left it in a "much more competitive position".
In July 1994, Roger Bell of the UK's Independent tested the 2.5-litre turbodiesel variant of the XM. He said that "the introduction of a new high-torque diesel is among a range of sales-boosting improvements made by Citroën to its flagging flagship, still shunned by the British as a Gallic oddity." The pricing and equipment were viewed as competitive. The comfort and roominess were praised, but comments on the drive quality focused on the idiosyncrasies. Even though the steering ratio was much reduced compared to the CX, Bell still considered it over-direct and said that "clumsy drivers should look elsewhere". Roger Bell's conclusion was that "anyone in the market for a big, roomy, comfortable car that goes well on little fuel would be foolish to ignore it. Apart from being good value, the XM is one of the last true 'characters' left in a market of lookalikes." Fuel economy of 40 mpg was reported for this test.
In May 1995, John Simister of CAR tested the revised XM 2.0 VSX against the Alfa Romeo 164 2.0 T-Spark, Ford Scorpio 2.0 16V Ghia and Vauxhall Omega 2.0 GLS 16V. The article highlighted an entirely new iteration of the Omega and the recent launch of the Ford Scorpio. Simister introduced the XM as the "daring maverick of the quartet, technically and aesthetically." Due to its hydraulic steering, brakes and suspension the XM was recognized as having "a different feel." The conclusion of the test highlighted the XM's uneven capabilities and also the extent to which the competition was catching up on Citroën's unique sales propositions of ride quality and comfort: "there's a telling generation gap between the two front-drive cars [XM and 164] and the younger rear-drive pair in this confrontation [Scorpio and Omega]". Though based on the architecture of a much older car, the Mk3 Ford Granada of 1985, the Scorpio bested the XM on seat comfort and rear legroom. The XM's front seats and cabin ambience did not fare well against the Ford or Vauxhall. However, the turbo-charged Citroën beat the Ford on performance. The Alfa was viewed as having the "sportiest character" with best handling, but the Citroën had better space, comfort, finish and refinement. So a combination of superior speed (compared to the Ford) and comfort (compared to the Alfa) put the XM in second place. The Vauxhall's all-round competence, but particularly its ride, put it in first place. The Vauxhall's suspension was described as "brilliant. The ride is supple, controlled, well damped ... to obtain such outstanding results through conventional means is to challenge Citroën's innovation." The Opel also boasted accurate steering and "splendid centre-point responses. No rival turns into corners with greater resolution, bite or fluency." The XM's gearchange was described as "graunchy, downgraded by the mushy clutch." And "despite mid-life refurbishment the XM's dash and switchgear are not up the best." The XM was highly rated in steering, it being "nicely responsive rather than ultra-sharp – especially at speed, when little more than telepathy is needed to corner with inch-perfect precision." In contrast to the Vauxhall and Ford, the Citroën's suspension failed to absorb surface abrasions which "generate high-frequency agitation and knobbliness". However, the oleo-pneumatic suspension could "waft over foundation irregularities" better than the competitors. The foot-applied parking brake was described as "treacherous." The luggage capacity of the XM was rated at 460 litres, joint third place with the Ford.
An unrelated article in the same edition of CAR discussed the sales performance of large, diesel cars in the UK market in the previous year. The Volkswagen Passat was ranked first and the XM took eighth place. Under the category "Could Do Better Department" the XM was described as a "technofest." The unnamed author exhorted readers as follows: "Listen people, they're fab, so try one."
Discussing the merits of turbo-diesels, the Glasgow Herald described the car in mid-1996 in the following way: "The Citroën XM in turbo diesel form is a splendid long-legged autoroute car. " The same edition of the Glasgow Herald summarised the car as "a fine motorway cruiser, with unexpectedly good handling around the lanes, and masses of space for passengers and luggage. "
The view of the Daily Express World Car Guide 1998 was that the XM was "as distinctive an executive class car as it's possible to find." The interior was described as "huge." The news for that model year was the replacement of the 12-valve 3.0-litre V6 with a 24-valve 3.0-litre V6 that was used in the Citroën Xantia. The Guide commented that the interior was looking dated, but it was described as a "thoroughly relaxing drive."
The Daily Express World Car Guide 1999 said "Citroën's largest car is also the most quirky." But the XM "is not without its qualities though, with a smooth ride and mile-munching motorway ability." The depreciation to which the car was prone had become part of the car's identity in many reviews. Typical is "only a few hundred are sold and values plummet on the used market." The 2.1- and 2.5-litre diesels were said to be "stars of the range with economy and reasonable performance." In contrast to earlier reviews, the Guide thought the interiors were "fragile." But the ergonomics remained a point of criticism: "the interior takes some getting used to." Referring to the load carrying capacity of the estate, the Guide said the car was "capable of carrying more than some vans."
By September 2000 the Citroën XM's press visibility had diminished. CAR magazine's GBU section was one of the last places it was reviewed. The summary was that the XM as "an ancient intergalactic cruiser reminds us of what Citroën used to be. Bertone's needle-nosed styling is wearing quite well, and comfy, spacious cabin a pleasure on top of the hydraulic chassis. Quite good in diesel and turbo forms ... Estate an unbeatable load carrier but at a decade old this monster is best avoided."
CAR magazine's final article on the XM was from November 2000. The "Parting Shot" series was known for its unequivocally harsh stance so the commentary in that tradition was almost wholly negative. The article in question, by Richard Bremner, focused on the issue of the defective electrical connectors: "Early XMs could be relied upon to go wrong, but little else. And often the cause of the trouble could be pinpointed to one component – a defective electrical connector". The result of this reputation was that people "stayed away in droves, even if some got cars that gave no trouble at all." The article noted that "Citroën worked hard at fixing the problems, introducing a new kind of connector after the car was launched, but by then the XM had lost almost all connections with its potential audience." The article conceded that a changed market also made conditions difficult for the XM: "While the CX before it sold well to successful types who needed something big and futuristic, by the time the XM came along their thoughts were turning towards the slickly packaged prestige of BMW and Benz. The market for big cars from volume makers was dying". Bremner pointed out that it was going to be difficult for any modern Citroën to be great. "What it really needed to be, however unreasonable it is to expect one car company to keep delivering it, was a new concept in big car design, something as radical as the Renault Espace. But the XM was not that and it has died unloved and destined, one suspects, to become very rare very soon".
The XM has a mixed reputation in its post-production twilight. Discussing bargain used cars, the Glasgow Herald wrote in 1999 that the XM has "a solid reputation, smooth engines, plenty of street presence and lots of room for people and luggage." But, writing in the Daily Telegraph in September 2005, Andrew English led his discussion on the Citroën C6 with this comment: "It has been 17 years since Citroën last introduced a large car. The slab-of-cheese-like XM that went out of production in 2000 was a mockery of the idea, however. Not just in the coincidence of its design house's name, Bertone, with that of Flaminio Bertoni, who penned the beautiful and elegant DS models in the 1950s, but also for its staggering unreliability". When reviewing the Citroën C6 in 2006, The Irish Times referred to the marked improvement in the quality of the new vehicle compared to its predecessor: "unlike previous big Citroëns, such as the XM, the C6 has a feel of quality in its fit and finish".
Britain's Classic & Sportscar published an essay on Citroën's large cars, from DS to C6. The tone is more charitable, but still refers to a car with a reputation "tarnished by complexity". For comparison purposes a Series 2 XM in 2.1-litre diesel configuration was presented. The article's contention was that the XM was intended to compete with the ascendant German marques. The article views the car's design as influenced strongly by the Citroën SM and calls it "the world's most subtle retro design." On interior (a series 2 which resembles the Xantia's), the author says "the black cabin is a little dour, but there are playful touches, too, such as the black strip of smoked plastic behind the wheel, from which warning lights emerge and vanish." Turning to the driving quality, the author remarks, "you'll find a confidence not always present in its ancestors. There's little understeer, the brakes are more conventionally controlled and the 2.1-litre turbocharged unit has ample torque for cannoning the XM from bend to bend. The bump-eliminating suspension ... still features – you'll barely notice cattle grids – but with it comes a firmness more orientated towards the sporting driver."
The UK-based car review website Honest John summarises the XM, as a used purchase, as "Comfortable and spacious, especially the estate. Excellent ride and tidy handling. Plenty of potential problems, so buy with care and find an experienced XM specialist."
The used-car website Compucars views the XM as "surprisingly good to drive thanks to that suspension system. You find yourself relishing country B roads, despite the car's obvious bulk. You need to be careful with the foot-operated parking brake though. A lever on the dashboard, which can take some getting used to, releases it." The overall impression of the car, according to Compucars is: "Gallic charm with attitude. The XM makes a pleasant change from normal executive fare. Buy carefully and enjoy."
Components supplier Valeo designed the XM's lamps and a similar design was used on the Eagle Premier. The goal of the design was to reduce the size of the lamps and to increase their output. The XM's new "complex surface" headlamps were not powerful enough on dipped beam, though main beam was perfectly adequate. This could be traced to the use of a plastic optical element between the bulb and the outer lens, which yellowed with age.
The XM was not alone here; the pre-facelifted first-generation Ford Mondeos suffered from the same problem. Series 2 (from mid-1994 onwards) LHD XMs had improved light units without the plastic element, but slow United Kingdom sales meant these were never fitted to RHD forms. Headlamp retrofit kits using dual or triple round optics are available from third party suppliers, though this changes the aesthetics of the car. Series 1 cars can be fitted with series 2 headlights.
CxAuto presented the XM at the 1991 New York Motor Show, in the spring of 1991 and began converting and selling the XM Pallas (combined with the 2.0 injection engine) and the XM Vitesse (combined with the 3.0 V6 engine). In 1993, the XM Exclusive was added to the range. Unfortunately, the XM cost 40% more than the CX Prestige, with a price in excess of $50,000 and only a few examples were sold. As a result of newer, tougher US anti-pollution standards, the import of these cars ceased in 1997. XM parts must be sent over from Europe.
The Citroën XM, along with the Citroën Xantia were assembled in a form of CKD in Huizhou, Guangdong province. This venture lasted for only two years in 1996 and 1997 and production numbers were extremely low. The cars were imported to China more or less fully assembled with only minor additions done in China as a way to avoid the high import tariffs on cars that existed at the time.
- "Citroën XM". citroenet.org.uk. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Citroën XM.|
- Citroën XM - Citroën Origins
- Citroën XM Document & Picture Database, a resource with loads of XM related material.
- Citroën XM Forum – A free, friendly worldwide XM community with many technical resources and help
- Citroën XM Spanish Forum – Foro en Español
- http://www.citroenet.org.uk/Citroën XM
- Citroën XMs in movies
- Citroën XM Service Manual
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