2002 Citroen Xsara VTR 1.6


Great car with an atrocious gearbox


Gearbox - they only last few thousand km (made from French Weet-Bix).

Leaking transmission oil.

The whole clutch assembly was ruined due to worn gearbox main bearing, seal was torn to shreds, leaking oil as a result.

Grille rattling and falling off occasionally (the French always have to show off how different they are and use some totally insane securing method).

Nothing else - but to be fair, did not do much mileage in it. I am sure, if I keep it for longer, something else would fall off, break down or leak.

With all this mentioned, I still liked that car. It was great to drive.

General Comments:

Despite its atrocious reputation for being a total lemon, this car somehow happened to be a very reliable car while in my hands.

I bought it in a very good condition overall, except that the gearbox was already ruined.

There was a grinding noise in 1st and 2nd gear, reducing and gradually disappearing as you go up in gears and speed. Totally quiet above 90 km/h.

Finding a secondhand gearbox was like a South Korean drama - endless and tearsome. Called all wreckers in Sydney. Found 3 places, quoting $450, $450 and $750, and stating they had them in stock.

Went to the 1st $450 place. After a 2 hour search they couldn't find one, and tried to sell me a Peugeot 306 box, stating it's the same. Surely, it wasn't.

Luckily, I am a mechanic, and I already had my gearbox out, so I knew it was different. Otherwise, would have wasted a lot of time (note to self - never trust what the seller says).

2nd $450 place - same story. Couldn't find one in stock, tried to sell a 306 one. What is it with Ozzy mechanics? They tend to think that Citroen Xsara and Peugeot 306 are the same cars under the skin. Well - they are not.

3rd place - total saga of sad unprofessionalism (luckily I am used to them, so always ready and prepared for disappointment). Called them, asked to confirm price and availability. Yes sir, $750 including GST, yes we have 3 in stock. Can I come and pick it up in 1 hour? Sure you can. OK. Came in 2 hours, just to be on a safe side.

After 40 minutes of waiting at the counter - what gearbox? I am not sure we have one. Let me check. OK. Another 20 minute wait. Yes, we have, sir, but you have to come back in 2 hours because we have to pull it out off the car. OK.

Came back in 2 hours. What gearbox? Let me check. Another 20 minute wait. Yes sir, the box is out. However, you have to come back in 2-3 hours because our policy is to do a pre-sale check and service them with new oil. OK.

Came back in 3 hours. Is my box ready? Yes sir, it is ready, but the manager said you have to pay $2200 for it (yes, two thousand two hundred dollars - I paid less for the car itself) because it is a RARE box. Are you insane? Didn't you quote me $750 just this morning? Yes sir, I am sorry sir, but the manager said - $2200, rare box.

After 30 minutes of negotiations with the manager, finally bought it for $1350 (incl GST) thanks to my 12 year history with them.

When the box was out, discovered that the clutch assembly was gone - replaced with a new clutch, another $350 (Valeo).

Half of all the bulbs were blown and never replaced by previous owner, and when I did it myself I realised WHY - it takes about 8 hours and you need an octopus friend to do this as the bulbs are totally inaccessible. To change bulbs in the left headlight, you have to take the ABS unit out!

After doing all this, the car was beautiful to drive, reliable and VERY economical.

I had to modify the seating position a lot to make it comfortable though.

It had K&N pod filter and big bore exhaust with a very nice sound, Bilstein lowered suspension and low profile Bridgestones.

I loved driving that car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Maybe. If I am in a state of temporary insanity, I might buy one.

That one I originally bought for $2000, low mileage car, so it was OK.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th December, 2013

2001 Citroen Xsara HDi 1.8 turbo diesel


Economical longhaul workhorse


CD player was affected by cold when I got it, then completely gave up. Car has 2 x 12v sockets, so I just run an iPhone with FM transmitter for music.

Wiper arms started slipping because ball joint had worn out. Had to replace the whole mechanism (not cheap). 244,000km.

Right front head light unit is spring loaded somehow, and light ended up pointing at ground, so the whole unit had to be replaced. 256,000km.

New clutch needed at 262,000km.

New ball joints and suspension bushes at 280,000km.

Gearbox is starting to whine at 286,000km. Oil was replaced with the clutch change, so likely to be something else.

Driver seat has lost its bounce and is uncomfortable after a couple of hours.

General Comments:

Great fuel economy, averaging 5.2L/100km.

Car is suffering wear and tear, but then it's averaged 25,000 km per year.

Great corrosion protection, sits outside and we're 100m from the beach, with no visible rust yet.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th June, 2010