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Citroen Xsara (1997-2004) Buying Guide

Citroen Xsara (1997-2004)
Citroen Xsara (1997-2004)Citroen Xsara (1997-2004)Citroen Xsara (1997-2004)Citroen Xsara (1997-2004)Citroen Xsara (1997-2004)Citroen Xsara (1997-2004)Citroen Xsara (1997-2004)Citroen Xsara (1997-2004)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

Considering Citroen built its brand on key attributes such as innovation and flair, the Xsara is a major let down. It's completely ordinary in every way, offering nothing more than affordable (small) family transport. Only buy one if it's really cheap as virtually all of its rivals offer a better all-round package. Estates make cheap load-luggers while HDi models are by far the best Xsaras; earlier 1.9D is rough in comparison.

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We LikeWe Don't Like
Good diesel engines
Decent handling of facelifted car
Poor reliability
Bland looks
So-so packaging
Key Dates 
11/97Xsara replaces ZX; available as five-door hatch and estate.
3/98Three-door coupé arrives as VTR or VTS.
10/98Side and passenger airbags now standard.
4/99ABS standard throughout.
6/99Pick of Xsara bunch on sale; the 2.0HDi. Available as five-door hatch or estate.
10/00Xsara range facelifted with new nose and tail plus revised instrumentation.
10/04C4 replaces Xsara.
  • ECU problems cause uneven engine running.
  • Fuel gauges are often inaccurate.
  • Auto 'boxes can be unreliable - check it shifts smoothly.
  • Conrod failures on 1997 and 1998 1.9 turbodiesels mean engine replacement.
  • On HDIs, the timing belt pulley needs replacing at the same time as the timing belt. Ask if it's been done because it often isn't.
  • Excessive wear of rear discs and pads is common.
  • Check the spare wheel is in its cradle under the boot - they're often stolen.
  • Clutches on HDi models can fail at just 30,000 miles.

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