1997 Citroen Xantia 1.6i from Portugal


A dream to drive. A nightmare to own


The suspension spheres went shortly after I bought the car. They're expensive (even the aftermarket ones) when compared to standard shock absorbers (despite Citroen fans trying to convince you otherwise...).

* the clutch was gone when I got it and (without me knowing it) so was the power steering hydraulics. Got a clutch kit for 80€ and a used power-steering set for 50€. Labour costs to have these installed however, were a different story...

* LHM system had several leaks. It cost a fortune in labour to get them fixed but shortly after, leaks appeared again.

* Heating seemed to have a life of its own. It didn't start when I'd try to switch it on... and it sometimes out of the blue it did. :-)

* Fuel gauge was totally unreliable. Either gave 1/4 or 1/8 of fuel left. Needless to say I got stuck with no fuel a couple of times.

* The car would 'choke' at low revs and it was often a pain to get it started once the engine got warm. It got new spark plugs, lead cables and injectors cleaned up. Got better but not fine...

General Comments:

The Xantia is a very spacious and comfortable car to drive. The driving position, the seats and the overall driving experience are brilliant! Mine had leather seats which gave the interior a really great look.

However, the car is flawed in many ways because of its poor build quality. Clutch, power-steering, LHM system, spheres, heating, etc. all went soon after I bought it, not to mention a wide number of smaller issues with the car.

It's fair to say, the previous owner didn't look after it as he should have, but the feeling I got was that Citroen did not invest enough time and money testing components and materials through and tried to cut corners here and there.

Maintenance is difficult and therefore only Citroen-experienced mechanics should service them. It goes without saying that it quickly becomes costly to own a Xantia.

The 1.6i engine, with its 88HP, is way short for a car this big and heavy and fuel consumption is too high. I often got 10, 11lts/100km driving in the city, which is a lot for a car this underpowered.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 16th October, 2017

23rd Nov 2019, 15:20

I agree with your comments about the engine. All 1.6 petrol units in most cars in this class (mid - large sized family saloons/hatches) from this time period (1990s) were poor in performance and economy. I believe the only reason the smaller engine was offered was because of cheaper tax rates in some countries for business users.

If buying a car like this again, I would recommend anyone to go for the 1.8 or 2.0 petrol's - much better performance and yet the fuel consumption seems slightly better as well - all my Citroen Xantia's, Renault Laguna's, Vauxhall Vectra's, and Ford Mondeo's did high 30s or even 40 MPG on a long run. You could go for a diesel, but this was when diesel cars were still slow and not great to drive; they were only just starting to get better. If consumption is not an issue however, try a petrol 3.0 V6 in any of these cars ;)

1st Aug 2022, 08:59

These were OK cars, suspension aside they were not more expensive to fix than any other car. Averagely reliable though, you will have some problems, but no worse than similar French cars.

1997 Citroen Xantia V6 Activa 3.0 V6 petrol from Switzerland


Comfort and sports in a unique package!


Air conditioning failed due to leaks - has to be fixed.

Some suspension bushes had to be replaced at 150'000 km, which I consider normal.

Some minor leaks in the cooling system appeared at 160'000 km - could be fixed by sealing fluid.

Rear wheel bearings recently started to squeak (165'000 km).

General Comments:

I think this is one of the best handling cars, while it's still very comfortable to drive (soft suspension and generous leather seats). Interior and boot are roomy, and I like the airy feeling that is given by the large glass area.

The equipment is very complete, although one may miss some things that are present on more modern cars, like radio central locking (rather than infrared) or immobilizer without the keyboard. With the fully electrical leather seats, a perfect position can easily be found, but I wonder why they aren't equipped with heating. Another point that could be improved is the lack of storage space in the interior - the glove box is really a joke, and only suitable for very small gloves ;-)

The V6 engine is one point I like very much about this car. It can be driven between 1000 and 2000 revs easily, but also revs up to 6500 - which gives very decent acceleration and good sound, too. When driven peacefully, gas mileage is quite astonishing. The drawbacks of this engine are sometimes expensive maintenance and the heavy weight on the front axle, which makes the car a bit clumsy in corners.

Otherwise, it's a car that likes curves, and on sinuous roads with little traffic, the Activa system makes handling marvelous. Fast driving in the Swiss Alps or French country roads is where this car is a pure source of fun. Good steering and brakes add to this, but they lack the specific Citroën feeling I liked so much with my CX I had before.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th August, 2009