If you follow the crowd, you'll never see this one coming
Suspension spheres had gone flat.
Accumulator valve sticking.
ABS sensor not working.
A mechanical component of the turbo didn't always work (i.e. sometimes no boost!).
The first thing you need to know about *any* Xantia is the cost of replacing the suspension spheres. This should be done every 3 years or so. You will know if the spheres have gone "flat" by the crazy way this car bounces everywhere, rendering it undriveable. The spheres cost approximately £20 each and there are four of them. Add £50-100 for labour.
The second thing you need to know is that *as long as the spheres are not in need of replacement*, any Xantia will beat virtually any other car for ride quality. I don't care whether you drive a 406 V6 or a BMW 5-series, the Xantia's suspension works better at suppressing bumps and jolts.
Speaking of which, be prepared to take quite a few in the Xantia Activa, the only sports model in the line-up. The Activa is powered by a 2.0 constant torque turbo engine borrowed from the Peugeot 406 SRi.
Power figures are 150bhp @ 4000rpm and 173lb/ft @ 4000rpm approx. Acceleration 0-60mph is around 9.3 seconds, 1/4 mile time is around 16.5-17.0 seconds and top speed is a flat-out 130mph. It won't match a Prelude in a straight line, but the Xantia Activa was built to go round corners. And does it do well on the winding roads?
Let's put it this way: a well-driven Xantia Activa *is* good. The car has staggering ability through chicanes. It corners totally flat - there's less body roll than an Audi S4 - and I read somewhere that the car's lateral acceleration is 0.94g. That is 0.01g harder than a Honda NSX.
It's a cornering force boy racers in their hot hatches can only dream of. This is not an old man's car, and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to go back to their Clio to drive around shopping centre car parks with their stereos on loud. The Activa is a good - a very good - attempt at hardcore.
However, the Activa has a number of flaws. For a start its engine produces nowhere near enough power to take advantage of its handling. It's not fast enough on the straights, although it does feel quick, and its lack of equipment (another problem) makes it light for its class. You should be looking at 180-200bhp for a sports saloon weighing 1300kg.
The Activa suspension has two settings, Sport and Comfort. The Comfort setting loses all of the car's inherent sharpness. It's lumpy, wallowy and numb, making me wonder what it is for. By contrast the excellent Sport mode brings the car alive in a way other Xantias aren't, but it is extremely noisy on poor ground, lots of clattering. This is a problem on sportier cars of its age though -- you can't have performance suspension without some compromise.
The car is reliable *providing* you spend money maintaining its suspension system. You need to keep this car serviced, as believe me, any Activa you come across (if you can find one) will have been hammered almost to death. As a fleet car it won't have been looked after since its previous owners knew they could just get another car at the company's expense.
If you can keep the car in decent condition, it's as reliable as anything else on the road -- another Xantia myth exploded.
Fuel economy is average at best with a tenner fetching 50-70 miles in semi-urban environments. This does improve on long journeys.
Re-sale of the car is a nightmare. You will probably sell a 406 turbo without too many problems, but the Xantia Activa is strictly enthusiast only. You need to advertise this car with a full MOT and assurance the suspension is sound. Good luck getting rid of it once you own it, especially if it's having problems!
Believe it or not, modifying a Xantia (or a petrol 406) will boost the re-sale appeal of the car as long as you're smart. Nice 17" wheels, a custom exhaust and a higher boost setting will work wonders.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 20th May, 2007