The Citroën XM was a flop and still became a star

The Citroën XM is celebrated today because of its weird character.

Kai-Uwe Knoth /


For Citroën, the XM was supposed to be the entry ticket to the luxury class at the beginning of the 1990s. The experiment failed and the big Citroën was a flop. Today it is on the verge of becoming a desirable rarity.

The career of the Citroën XM began with a lot of hope. As the successor to the legendary CX, which after 16 years of production was only bought by brand fetishists, the big Citroën should let the brand shine again in the luxury class. And since, for historical reasons, the company was primarily committed to design, work on the XM first began with the search for the optimal shape. Three design teams competed against each other with their designs and in the end the Bertone office won, whose designer Marcello Gandini had already designed the BX.

Geared towards a long life

To reduce costs, Peugeot made the newly developed 605 available as a donor for the floor pan of the XM, but allowed Citroën to use its own, brand-typical hydraulic suspension system. The XM was built in a completely renovated factory in Rennes-la-Janais and designed for a long car life. Sheet metal carefully protected against corrosion, a high proportion of composite plastics and intensive quality control ensured that the reputation-damaging rust from the CX era should not be an issue for the XM. For Citroën it was a matter of course that the new model would also be way ahead in terms of aerodynamics. The XM achieved a very good value of cw = 0.28, which helped the car to achieve low fuel consumption and a low level of interior noise.

Later XM in Bleu Saphir.  On facelift models (from July 1994) the double angle is in the middle.

Later XM in Bleu Saphir. On facelift models (from July 1994) the double angle is in the middle.

Kai-Uwe Knoth /

The high rear is a bit reminiscent of the Citroën SM from the seventies.

The high rear is a bit reminiscent of the Citroën SM from the seventies.

Kai-Uwe Knoth /

Wedge-shaped profile with playful window line and hatchback

Kai-Uwe Knoth /

Of course, Citroën not only limited itself to a modern body design, but also further developed the hydropneumatic suspension, which now uses electronics with numerous sensors to monitor the vehicle position and adjust the suspension and damping accordingly. Two additional spring balls were installed in order to be able to implement the regulations quickly during operation. In December ’93 the AntiSink system supplemented the landing gear setup. As a result, the XM outperformed its competitors with an extremely high level of suspension comfort, coupled with high driving safety. Although the XM was no longer as softly tuned as its predecessor, the feeling of the “magic carpet” was only offered by the Citroën in its class. Of course, this came at a high price, because the system was very complex.

A weak engine

Citroën was never really able to dispel one point of criticism of the CX with the XM. The engines available for selection were too weak and not very confident during his life. With the exception of the 147 hp turbo engine, the four-cylinder petrol engines had too little power and little smoothness, while the first-generation 200 hp six-cylinder engine was particularly noticeable due to its unreliability. The completely redesigned V6 engine with 190 hp, which was used from April 1997 onwards, brought improvement. The diesel engines with 109 or 129 hp were economical and durable, but a bit crude.

In the interior, Citroën unfortunately renounced any extravagance, and if it hadn’t been for the brand’s typical single-spoke steering wheel in the first few years, you would have believed yourself in any mid-range car. Even the radio was now in a position where it could be operated without stopping while driving.

Today it is celebrated

Even if Citroën was not really happy with the XM in view of the sales figures that remained far below expectations, the car is a milestone in automotive history. The scene is already celebrating him as the last real Citroën. It is precisely this weird character that makes the XM a popular figure in an increasingly uniform car world.

A detailed driving report as well as many other pictures can be read and seen at www. is the most comprehensive online platform for classic cars, youngtimers and historic racing and is supplemented daily with new articles, pictures and historical documents by enthusiasts with petrol in their blood.

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