Car Test   R0254
July 2002
  Citroen Xsara Estate
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 2.0HDi LX (110bhp)
Cars are a bit like actors: some shoot to stardom and keep on winning Oscars, as well as commanding fancy fees, despite their temperamental ways. Others do bit parts, making a steady living, but never make the big-time, despite their abilities- probably because they lack glamour.
   This second description fits the Xsara perfectly. We (personally) didn’t like the colour of the test car and, on first approach found the fascia drab and the driving seat soggy and unsupportive. Yet when we had spent longer getting to know this estate version’s road manners and accommodating ways, we concluded that one would be hard pressed to surpass this keenly priced proposition.
   This is a critical factor, because for the last year or so, Citroen’s succession of promotions means you can buy at your local dealer, at prices that rivals can only match on-line or at super-centres. Buying from a Citroen outlet confers a three-year warranty (something we wouldn’t be without) and, with the latest HDi diesels, you have the prospect of low fuel costs, as well.
   However, the real surprise is how well this estate car drives. Once the engine gets to 1500rpm (about 30mph in fourth, 40 in top), it’s a smooth, relaxed performer with lots of torque that enables you to overtake or climb gradients with little recourse to the (pleasant enough) gearshift and slightly weighty clutch. Its ride is distinctly superior to most and, apart from a rather weighty feel at the helm, it corners with alacrity and little roll.
   The estate car comes with a back seat (velour trimmed, with neat carpet everywhere in the load area), that’s the equal in comfort and space to the hatchback’s and folds deftly to produce a flat L-shaped load platform for three occupants.
   There’s no load sill to speak of, useful illumination and tie-down facilities are provided, and its luggage volume is better than most because of generous load height, even below the window line. In general, it’s better as a four seater than Golf or Astra and only the Focus accommodates more - by the odd two or three centimeters. The one deficient dimension is load length through to the front seatback.
   Rear kneeroom is enhanced by the deeply scooped-out-front seatbacks - but a prominent lower padded roll does no favours to leg-stretching space.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Safety Euro NCAP
Security, theft of
theft from
  • red warning tags for rear childlocks
  • gas strut holds bonnet open
  • lot of sensibly placed courtesy lights
  • access to spare without disturbing luggage
  • painted metal under back seat cushions
  • key/handset bulky for purse or pocket
  • screen reflections from facia in sun
  • poor front seat spinal support
The 2001 model year revisions, with the introduction of new engines, improved the Xsara for more than most motoring pundits have acknowledged. Nowadays, it’s much cheaper than its close relative, the Peugeot 307, and that car has just won the Car of the Year award. If you’re looking at a diesel to reduce costs, buy the Xsara with confidence – and pocket the difference.

engine 1997cc, 4-cylinder, diesel; 110bhp at 4000rpm, 184 lb ft at 1750rpm; belt-driven single overhead camshaft, 8 valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 28.6mph/1000rpm in 5th, 22.7 in 4th
suspension front: independent damper/struts with integral coil springs rear: independent trailing arms and transverse torsion bars   steering hydraulic power-assistance; 3.3 turns lock to lock. 10.85m diameter turning circle between kerbs (17.1m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear with anti-lock (ABS) control standard   wheels/tyres 5.5in steel with 195/55R15H tyres (Michelin Primacy on test car); full-size spare

size and type lower-medium (budget-priced) 5-door hatchback and estate car; 3-door Coupe   trim levels hatchback and estate: LX, SX Coupe: VTR, VTS
engines petrol: 4cyl/1.4 litre/75bhp, 4/1.6/110, 4/2.0/167 (Coupe only) diesel: 4/2.0/90 and 110bhp versions (not Coupe)   drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual (4-speed stepped automatic with torque convertor optional with 1.6 petrol and 2.0HDi/110 diesel

HOW THE XSARA 2.0HDI ESTATE COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Citroen Xsara 2.0HDi 4/1997/110 2450 10.7 13.7/19.0 51/141 17/26 109 97/72 3.3/10.8 437
Skoda Octavia 1.9TDi 4/1896/110 2540 10.7 15.5/21.3 54.5/135 27/24 112 97/72 3.1/10.5 451
Toyota Corolla 2.0T4D Verso* 4/1796/89 2700 14.4 16.9/25.2 46/164 14/26 107 100/75 3.2/10.6 424
Vauxhall Astra 2.0Di+ 4/1994/82 2750 12.8 15.9/22.1 51.5/161 21/26 108 95/70 3.1/10.4 429
VW Golf 1.9TDi (115)° 4/1896/115 2000 10.3 13.3/18.8 51/143 26/25.5 109 96/72 3.1/10.3 440
Citroen Picasso 2.0HDi 4/1997/90 2470 14.0 18.6/27 50/147 16/26 106 95/72 3.3/11.9 428
  ° current version gives 100 or 130bhp  + current version gives 99bhp  * also 109bhp estate car - not yet tested

Adjusters for wheel reach/rake and seat height. Well-placed left footrest and central information display, plus usual dials. Remote stalk for radio/cassette. Clever auxiliary lights to light your way.
Unnecessarily weighty steering when parking - gives some feel of control when pressing on, however. Poised cornering with less roll than old ZX. Surprisingly wieldy for a load corner.
Can still show newcomers a thing or two about good suspension - pity the seats aren't more supportive up front, though. Not a happy engine when trundling, but a very relaxed main road cruiser. Effective, controllable aircon.

Punchy acceleration right through the speed range means third gear does just as well as frantic revs and gearchanging. Blighted by unpleasant harshness below 1500rpm, however.
  acceleration in seconds through gears 3rd gear 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40mph 3.5 4.9 9.3 no
  30-50mph 4.2 4.5 6.5 10.3
  40-60mph 5.4 5.2 6.4 8.5
  50-70mph 6.5 6.3 7.2 8.7
  30-70mph 10.7 10.8 13.7 19.0
  max speed in each gear (a using 4450rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1sta      2nda      3rda      4tha      5th
     speed (mph)      24.5      45      73      102      118

Probably just as frugal as less powerful version, so this is a good result; key stays in unlocked cap so hard to forget! Despite fuel saved, 1.6v (petrol) costs less in income tax, however.
    AA test results (mpg)  
    worst (hard/urban) 29  
    best (gentle/rural) 61  
    overall mpg 51  
    realistic tank capacity 45litres  
    realistic tank range 505miles  
    official figures (mpg)
    urban 39.8
    extra urban 65.7
    combined 53.3
    CO2 emissions 141g/km
    car tax band B

Brakes perform well and are nicely servoed - no fade, either. NCAP crash tests show the design's age - yet all the airbags and seat belts are there for five and the rear head restraints conveniently recess into backrests.
  tested 1998
  from 50mph (with ABS)
front impact     44%
side impact     72%
overall     59%
overall safety rating    
pedestrian rating    
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     36m
sudden 17kg     26m best stop
+4kg ie 21kg     26.5m
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

This estate version has a lot going for it at the price - it's both roomy and nicely trimmed, with proper split/fold cushion; it's also a comfortable seat. Lots of oddments spots, too.
  in centimetres (5-door estate)
  length 437
  width - including mirrors 197
    - mirrors folded 178
  height (no roof bars) 142
  load sill height (inside/outside) 4/55
  turns lock-to-lock 3.2
  turning circle (metres) 10.8
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 86-109
    - headroom 90-95§
  rear - typical legroom 97
    - typical kneeroom 72
    - headroom 72
    - hiproom 129-130
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
  load length 91-152
  load width 114-127
  load height (to shelf/top of aperture) 51 79
§ no sunroof

The handset is too bulky, but everything operates conveniently, with a locked tailgate on the move and "see-you-home" headlights after parking.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter + interior)  
self-locking doors (static)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
boot locks in motion   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of"
NCSR - "theft from"
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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