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Affordable classic cars: Citroën Xantia


Little money, but still fancy a classic car? No problem - because there are bargain sledges. This time: The Citroën Xantia, the last descendant of the "goddess" DS and an outstanding winner of the moose test.

Enlarge image

Citroën Xantia 1.6i



Ralf Schulz

General information about the model:

The Citroën Xantia has not yet been perceived as a classic.

Connoisseurs celebrate the mid-range model as the last central hydraulics from Citroën: The suspension / damping, steering and brakes run via the so-called hydropneumatics.

Instead of conventional steel springs, balls filled with nitrogen and a hydraulic oil ensure that the car always has the most perfect road holding possible.

The extremely comfortable chassis concept was introduced in the mid-fifties for the Citroën DS, which enthusiasts also worshiped as the "goddess".

The Xantia is its last offspring, it was launched in 1993. The Bertone design office drew its wedge-shaped sheet metal design, both for the sedan (Berline) and the spacious station wagon (Break), which is popular with families.

It was launched in 1995.

With ABS, a steering rear axle, front and later even side airbags, the equipment of the Xantia was more than decent for a mid-range car.

The basic version X meant simple fabric seats and crank windows.

But for a surcharge, the French could also be upgraded with comfortable velor seats, electric window lifters, automatic air conditioning, sliding roof or automatic transmission.

The hydropneumatics were standard on the Xantia and offered outstanding driving comfort for its class.

The 1.6i entry-level model was a special car, especially since the 88 hp engine is still lively and frugal at the same time.

"My little Xantia 1.6i hovers over the road - not like a DS or a CX - but it hovers," says Ralf Schulz, Xantia enthusiast from Speyer in Rhineland-Palatinate.

But more powerful 16V machines with up to 150 hp and a turbo (TCT) with 147 hp were also available.

The top petrol model was called the Citroën Xantia 3.0i V6 with 190 hp and a top speed of 230 km / h.

The HDI diesels with particle filters are an insider tip - they are available for economical and powerful touring vehicles at prices of less than 1000 euros.

In addition, the Xantia was available with the further developments Hydractive and Activa. Hydractive meant an expansion of hydropneumatics: additional electronically activated spring balls change the suspension or damping according to the driving situation, which results in a tighter or more comfortable road holding. The Xantia Activa with so-called active roll stabilization is surprisingly sporty. The Active Chassis Stabilization System (AFS) reduces the side tilt to a minimum when driving faster.

"This allows you to achieve unbelievable lateral acceleration on winding roads - pure driving pleasure," says Activa fan Schulz.

Curious: In the famous moose test, in which the first Mercedes A-Class overturned in 1997, the Xantia, which at first glance seemed unimpressive, set the best times: Since 1999, it has held an almost insane record there at 85 km / h - ahead of racing cars like McLaren 675LT, Porsche 996 or Audi R8.

In 2001, Citroën stopped producing the Xantia.

With the successor C5, the complexity of the hydropneumatics was reduced, which now only comprised the chassis, but no longer brakes and power steering.

The technology was later saved entirely.

Why that of all people?

Float and float: The comfortable hydropneumatics have been the flagship of Citroën for decades. With the Xantia, the asphalt litter is available in its most sophisticated form and at a bargain price. "It's very likely that you rarely get so much technology for so little money," says lover Ralf Schulz, who recently bought a Xantia 3.0i V6 in addition to his Xantia 1.6i.

"My fully equipped Activa V6 was just over 1000 euros at the end of 2019, approved and ready to drive with TÜV," says the Citroën fan.

However, the limousine with its 200,000 kilometers was quite burned, which is why Schulz now wants to restore the noble six-cylinder gradually.

"The big V6 is much firmer and normally comfortable," he reports.

Especially on winding, fast-driven sections of the motorway, the car is as safe as the proverbial board - and yet it floats over bumps.

But even the "normal" Xantia with four-cylinder are still pleasant and easy-care touring cars today, provided that there is no maintenance backlog.

It is definitely worth keeping the last hydropneumatics.

Strictly speaking, the French from the nineties is not yet a classic car, even the first sedans have to wait two years for the H license plate.

Accessing it could still be worthwhile now, not only because of the low purchase prices.

According to Ralf Schulz, 1951 Xantia Berlines and 817 Breaks were still approved in Germany at the end of 2020 - the stock would shrink by a good 20 percent per year.


There are still a number of offers in the common used car portals, sedans with four-cylinder and manual transmissions predominate.

Station wagons are rarer.

Activa V6 are no longer available in Germany.

But the Activa system was also available with smaller engines, even with the 2.0 HDI Diesel.

In addition, there are a lot of deregistered cars today, but they have to be found first.

"The offer ranges from a rotten wreck in a meadow to the perfect grandpa car that has been forgotten in a heated garage," says Ralf Schulz.

Good offers are regularly found and discussed in the club forum.

Spare parts supply:

At Citroën it is often “no longer available”.

Usual wear parts can be found in accessories without any problems, many other parts come from battle vehicles.

A plus point is the lively fan base with its own forum.

In addition, all kinds of Xantia experts are active nationwide who can professionally maintain and restore the car.

Spare part prices (exemplary):

  • Set of brakes (discs and pads) front and rear for 1.6i: approx. 160 euros

  • Toothed belt with water pump for 1.6i: approx. 90 euros

  • Spring ball: approx. 45 euros (five to ten pieces required depending on the model)

  • Front fender (used): approx. 90 euros

Weak points:

The hydropneumatics is a complex technology, but it is quite uncomplicated to maintain. After more than 20 years of use, the return hoses of the hydraulics can become porous, which is noticeable by green oil stains under the car. A competent workshop can fix this quickly and cheaply. Maintenance also includes regular replacement of the spring balls. Incidentally, a functioning hydraulic height adjustment is not an indication of intact spring balls. "The car has to be soft in the normal position, then the balls are usually fine," says Xatnia owner Schulz.

Fortunately, rust is not a big issue, but the so-called Heuliez corners in the rear door cutouts should be inspected - dirt and moisture from the wheel arches land in the cavity.

The dome bearings of the front suspension struts also require attention.

If the rubber is porous or the sheet metal is rusted, they must be replaced.

With automatic transmissions, jerky gear changes indicate insufficient maintenance, regular oil changes are important.

In the interior, the headliner comes off with better equipment.

You either have to re-cover it or install a different headliner - the cheaper equipment had a headliner made of needle felt, which is more stable.

The lowering when parked, which is typical for hydropneumatics, no longer occurs with the younger Xantia - from 1995 onwards, "AntiSink" ensured that the car no longer buckled when it was stationary.

Contact points on the Internet:


The entry-level prices are temptingly low for a neo-classic, for less than 1000 euros you can find driving-ready, decent Xantia.

Well-kept copies can now also cost 5000 euros.

Exquisite Activa V6 are already trading at 10,000 euros.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-07-25

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