|Manufacturer||Citroën (PSA Group)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||5-door hatchback 5-door station wagon|
|Engine||2.0L I4 2.0L I4 16 valve 2.0L I4 Turbocharged 3.0L V6 12 valve 3.0L V6 24 valve 2.9L V6 24 valve 2.1L I4 Diesel 12 valve 2.1L I4 Turbodiesel 12 valve 2.5L I4 Turbodiesel 12 valve|
|Wheelbase||hatchback:2,850 mm (112.2 in) station wagon:2,850 mm (112.2 in)|
|Length||hatchback:4,708 mm (185.4 in) station wagon:4,963 mm (195.4 in) 1998–2000 station wagon: 4,950 mm (194.9 in)|
|Width||hatchback:1,793 mm (70.6 in) station wagon:1,794 mm (70.6 in)|
|Height||1,392 mm (54.8 in) (most Berline models); some turbo models 1,385 mm (54.5 in); 1,466 mm (57.7 in) (1998 V6 Break)|
|Curb weight||1,310 kg (2,888 lb)-1,550 kg (3,417 lb)|
The Citroën XM is an executive car that was produced by the French automaker Citroën between 1989 and 2000. Citroën sold 333,775 XMs during the model's 11 years of production. The XM was voted 1990 European Car of the Year. It is generally viewed as "the last real Citroen".
The angular, dart-like Bertone design was a development of Marcello Gandini's Citroën BX concept. It was a longer car with a longer, inclined nose, more refined details and with headlamps that were very much slimmer than the norm (Gandini's own XM proposal was rejected as looking too much like an Opel). The design process of the car was described in the journal Car Styling. In the article Citroen's design chief, Art Blakeslee, explained the appearance of the car, saying "I believe the XM is a modern and dynamic shape, with unique styling elements such as the very long, low hood, the extensive use of glass and the kick-up in the belt line". In the book Citroen XM another Citroen designer, Daniel Abramson, explained: "We lowered the belt line to give the shape a stronger image. It is purely a 'design statement' that is not functional and does nothing for the aerodynamics of the vehicle. We wanted a car that looks good from every angle". Abramson is also reported as saying that they "picked three areas to emphasise: 1) A very aggressive look ("Almost sinister", 2) Lots of glass to create a greenhouse effect, and 3) An aerodynamic accent based on fact (low drag)".
There were many advances, most apparently designed to counteract the main criticisms of its predecessor. The CX leaned in corners, so the XM had active electronic management of the suspension; the CX rusted, so the XM had a partially galvanised body shell (most surviving XMs have very little corrosion); the CX was underpowered, so the XM offered the option of a 3.0 L V6 engine – the first V6 in a Citroën since the Maserati-engined SM of 1970.
Ventilation was markedly more effective in the XM. Rear accommodation in the XM was improved over the CX in both width, legroom and height. In particular the rear passengers were seated higher than those in the front in order to afford a good view out, important for a vehicle which would operate in French government service. The XM shared a floorpan with the Peugeot 605, and the two models fared similarly in both teething problems and market acceptance.Unlike the 605 sedan design, the XM was a liftback design - a feature thought to be desirable in certain European markets.
Launched on 23 May 1989,the XM was the modern iteration of the Big Citroën, a replacement for the Citroën CX. It was intended to compete against vehicles like the Audi 100 and BMW's 5-series in a sector that accounted for 14.2% of the European market. Citroen was quoted as saying that the car was supposed to "take what Citroen means and make it acceptable" The car's initial reception was positive. The XM won the prestigious European Car of the Year award for 1990 (gaining almost twice as many votes as the second, the Mercedes-Benz SL) and went on to win a further 14 awards that year.
The anticipated annual sales were 450 cars a day in the first full year of production, or 160,000 units a year. Sales never reached this level for a variety of reasons. The market for executive cars made by mainstream manufacturers was in decline as customers opted for offerings from more prestigious marques such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz; in parallel customers were placing a higher priority on speed and handling rather than ride comfort which was Citroen's specialty. The XM was underdeveloped at launch which resulted in reliability problems; the vehicle as designed was inconsistent in its abilities. The XM's styling was also controversial and alienated those who desired a more conventional three box sedan. Most subjective of all was the matter of the XM not living up to the expectations created by its forerunner the Citroen DS, despite that car having been launched in an era of national markets, of different demands and standards, an era when there was more scope for large advances in engineering and design than were possible in 1989.
The XM inherited a loyal global customer base of executive class customers and a clear brand image, but did not enjoy the commercial success and iconic status of its predecessors, the CX and the DS, which both raised the bar of automotive performance for other manufacturers. Export markets experienced lower sales from the outset, partly due to the XM's pricing. The least expensive XM was nearly 50% more expensive at the time of launch than the corresponding CX. Whilst strong at first home market sales also declined, after the mechanical issues of the first few model years became known. The problem was caused by defective electrical connectors. Cost-cutting on the components was needed since the parent company was in financial difficulty at the time of the design of the XM. Between 1980 and 1984 the company lost $1.5 billion.
By early 1993, the XM was viewed as an "underachiever". Sales in the UK were at 3,500 units a years, making it Citroen's weakest seller. The 2.0-litre petrol engined variants were viewed as being the least competitive. As a result, Citroen restructured the range such that all but the base model petrols were fitted with low-inertia Garret turbochargers to add an extra 15 bhp (11 kW; 15 PS). This made the cars more powerful than more expensive competitors such as the Rover 820, Vauxhall Carlton and Ford Granada 2.0 GLX.
In mid-1994, the XM was revised in order to improve competitiveness. All models were fitted with driver's airbag (signalling the end of the single-spoke steering wheel), belt-pretensioners, a redesigned dashboard and upper door casings. The suspension was redesigned to reduce roll, pitch and dive. Most noticeable was the adoption of a passive rear-steering system similar to that on the Citroen Xantia. This sharpened the "steering without inducing a nervous twitch." Power output on the turbocharged motor was increased to 150 bhp (112 kW; 152 PS) from 145 bhp (108 kW; 147 PS) at 4400 rpm. This allowed the car to develop more torque at much lower revs. The important 50–70 acceleration time was 8 seconds compared to the Ford Scorpio 2.0 16V Ghia's 17 seconds. The view of CAR magazine was that this engine "provides unusually swift access to effortless power ... it delivers progressively with commendably little fuss; that this 2.0 turbo is as refined as it is muscular makes the XM's performance all the more creditable".
By the mid-1990s, it was apparent that the XM's image meant it was less desirable than German products such as the BMW 5 Series. The view of the XM as commercially unsuccessful is reported by Compucars, the used car website, along with numerous other period commentaries (see "Critical Appraisal" below.) Production ended in June 2000.
With total sales over its lifetime of just 330,000 units in more than 10 years, and the fact that its replacement took 5 years to arrive, the XM might be considered a failure. This was the case particularly in the United Kingdom market, where demand was reduced to a virtual trickle by the late 1990s. But despite its common roots with the Peugeot 605, the XM may still emerge as a collectible car, as the DS and CX both did.
The hydropneumatic self-leveling suspension (featuring grapefruit-sized metal spheres containing nitrogen, acting as both springs and shock absorbers) gained a very sophisticated electronic control system called Hydractive, which used sensors in the steering, brakes, suspension, throttle pedal and transmission to feed information on the car's speed, acceleration, and road conditions to on-board computers. Where appropriate – and within milliseconds – these computers switched an extra suspension sphere in or out of circuit, to allow the car a smooth supple ride in normal circumstances, or greater roll resistance for better handling in corners.
The Hydractive system was somewhat "ahead of the curve" when the car was launched and early versions were sometimes unreliable. Many problems stemmed from the sensitive electronics controlling the car's hydraulic system, often caused by the poor quality of the multipoint grounding blocks – one on each front inner wing, one at the rear, and one under the dashboard. These tended to corrode (especially the ones in the engine compartment), causing all manner of intermittent faults which were hard to diagnose. On later cars, these were changed to screw terminals bolted through the bodywork, and most of the older cars have been modified in a similar way.
When the Hydractive system worked, the result was a big car with a smooth "magic carpet" ride, and better handling than many smaller, lighter, sports cars. When it didn't work, it was quite harsh and bumpy, although no worse than any contemporary high-performance sports sedan. However, right-hand drive XMs were never fitted with the DIRAVI variable fully powered steering of the CX, having an almost conventional DIRASS power-assisted setup.
Some production models of the XM were not equipped with the Hydractive system, but had a 'conventional' hydropneumatic suspension closer to that of the Citroën BX. These lower specification vehicles were all built for markets in mainland Europe.
The Citroen "official" numbers for 0–100 km/h for XM 3,0 V6.24 was from year 1991 listed to 8,0 s. From 1993 or 1994 the number was for "unknown" reasons changed to 8,6 s (documentet in sales brochures 1991 to 1994). Similar changes (longer times) was also introduced at the same time for most other motors in the XM.
Being part of the PSA Peugeot-Citroën company, most of these engines were found in contemporary PSA cars, like the Citroën Xantia, Citroën C5, Peugeot 405, Peugeot 406 and Peugeot 605. The ZF 4HP18 automatic transmission – the late V6 had 4HP20 – was used also in Saab 9000, Peugeot 605, Alfa Romeo 164, Lancia Thema and the Fiat Croma.
1989 CITROEN XM x ray view
Dimensions and weights
- Length: 4,709 mm (185.4 in) (Berline) or 4,950 mm (194.9 in) (Break) or 4,963 mm (195.4 in) (1998 V6 Break)
- Width: 1,793 mm (70.6 in)
- Height: 1,392 mm (54.8 in) (most Berline models); some turbo models 1,385 mm (54.5 in); 1,466 mm (57.7 in) (1998 V6 Break)
- Wheelbase: 2,850 mm (112.2 in)
- Ground clearance: 140 mm (5.5 in)
- Weight: 1,310 kg (2,888 lb) (2.0i Berline) – 1,400 kg (3,086 lb) (2.0 Turbo Berline) – 1,453 kg (3,203 lb) (Turbo Break) – 1,475 kg (3,252 lb) (1990 V6) – 1,642 kg (3,620 lb) (Turbo 2.5D Break) – 1,655 kg (3,649 lb) (1998 V6 Break)
- Fuel tank capacity: 80 L (21 US gal; 18 imp gal)
Differences between 1st and 2nd generations
There are a number of visible differences between the first generation (May 1989 – May 1994) and second generation (June 1994 – June 2000) cars:
The most distinctive external differences are that:
- In second generation XMs, the Citroën double-chevron logo was moved to the centre of the grille and became larger. It was located off-centre in the first generation cars.
- The "XM" badge on the rear had a more stylised font (like that on the Xantia) and it was moved to the right of the tailgate.
- The second generation cars were fitted with a lower rear spoiler on the tailgate, sitting much closer to the top of the boot.
- The grey/black panel between the leading edge of the windscreen and the rear edge of the bonnet was colour-coded with the body colour. The original colouring was designed to echo the upward kick in the window line behind the rear door. With body coloured plastic this visual relationship became less clear and the "visual mass" of the front of the car increased somewhat. This effect was clearer on light coloured cars where the contrast between the dark areas and light areas was more pronounced.
- The door mirrors were modified to improve the view of the passenger side mirror from the driver's seat. Previously it was slightly obscured by the A-pillar. However, the obscuration only affected the field of view above the road horizon which is relatively less important.
Differences to the interior include:
- A more conventional three-spoke steering wheel including an integrated airbag. The driver airbag was standard on most models and countries, regardless of hand-drive configuration. As a result, the second generation models never had Citroën's distinctive single-spoke wheel. In certain markets (mainly the UK) and for certain models XMs were fitted with a two-spoke wheel.
- A modified instrument panel, to accommodate an optional passenger airbag (standard after December 1995). Also, in 1997, front seat-mounted side airbags were added, which were optional or standard depending on model and market. The design was similar to the Xantia's dashboard.
- The quality of the interior materials was marginally improved, with the leather and the seating being both softer but more supportive.
- The upper part of door trim were redesigned to soften the shape. Series 1 cars had a pronounced chamfer-effect in keeping with the angular theme of the dashboard.
- The driver and all passengers comfort was further enhanced (on Exclusive models) by variable heat seating, rather than as before just "on or off", with a dial switch allowing a heat setting of 1, 2, or 3.
Other major improvements include:
- Better, more reliable electrics and a faster computer system controlling the new Hydractive 2 suspension.
- Some models also received the "Auto Adaptive" gearbox, which supposedly assesses the driver's driving style, then switches to the most appropriate of approximately 6 onboard programmes. This gearbox was further enhanced by a "Sport" mode button (in addition to the sports button for the suspension), which shortened the gear change times, therefore offering a more responsive experience. The final new upgrade effecting the driving experience saw the introduction of a "Snow Mode" button, located next to the new sport mode button. Although rarely used in some countries, this was a surprisingly effective addition to the driver's arsenal; during any notable falls of snow that may affect the road ahead, a simple push of this button commands the gearbox to only accelerate from 2nd gear and up, and not to rev the engine too high, thus preventing any loss of traction.
In addition, the following changes were made to make the car easier to accept by more mainstream car buyers:
- As a direct consequence of their high pressure hydraulics, early XM brake pedals had very little, if any, travel. Phase 2 XMs had some sponginess deliberately built into the braking system (by inserting a sleeved spring into the pedal linkage) to make their brakes feel more like those on other cars.
- The Phase 2 "Hydractive 2" cars no longer "settled" down to the bottom of their suspension travel after having been parked for a while; this feature was termed "Anti-Sink" by Citroën. Such systems have even more complex hydraulics than 'Sinkers' because of the use of isolating valves and an extra sphere near the rear 'axle'. The hydraulic systems were also a lot quieter when maneuvering; this was due to the changes the "Anti-Sink" system brought. Early cars, 'sinkers', had a single output hydraulic pump which had its output divided into separate circuits, one for the power steering and one for the suspension/brake circuits (power steering needs a large flow rate whereas the suspension/brakes doesn't). The device which does this job is called a FDV (Flow Diverter Value), and this device hisses noticeably when the car is standing still or maneuvering. A slight pull on the steering wheel or a blip of the throttle will stop the hiss for a few seconds or so. Later "Anti-Sink" cars have a dual output pump, referred to as a 6+2 pump due to the number of internal piston chambers. Such cars therefore have no need of the "FDV" and therefore do not hiss.
The DIRAVI functions
A function much missed by Citroën enthusiasts was the "DIRAVI" System, previously present in the SM and CX. This option was only available for the French or LHD Export market and then only on the 3.0 V6 models. The functionality varied from car to car, but simply put the system affects steering control, at lower speeds less steering centering force aids parking and make city driving easier, but at higher speeds the system makes the steering heavier keeping you in a straight line on highways and suppressing the "sneeze" factor inherent to fast steering ratios. Another helpful function of DIRAVI is its ability to return the steering wheel to its central or neutral position when let go by the driver, even when the car is stationary. This is especially helpful when parking as the driver can be assured that his or her wheels will be in the correct position when the ignition is turned off; again this function also aids high speed, straight line driving on highways etc. Although an odd sensation to start with, most Citroën drivers become accustomed to DIRAVI in a very short time, only appreciating its unique abilities when they let go of the steering wheel in a car without DIRAVI, only to find nothing happens. DIRAVI makes the tendency of all cars' steering to return to center constant in DIRAVI equipped Citroëns, rather than being affected by tire adhesion, road tilt, tire pressure, tire failure, etc.
The standard 5-door models were called "Berline". The XM was also available as a "Break" (station wagon) – and in France, Tissier continued a tradition begun with the DS and CX, converting many to be used as ambulances and specialised delivery vehicles including their distinctive twin rear-axle conversions.
Although not an official variant XMs produced around 1992/1993 have been termed series 1.5 cars due to the mix of newer technology (developed for the series 2) with the series 1 vehicle type. One example of this being the alterations to the "Hydractive" suspension system on such cars. Early vehicles (series 1) had a system that could be switched from 'Comfort' to 'Sport' mode, this did exactly what you would expect and firmed up the suspension on flicking the switch but this made for a harsh ride which Citroen owners don't like. So Citroen developed "Hydractive 2" suspension (for series 2 vehicles) that although in essence was the same it worked differently, it still had to two states 'hard' and 'soft' but the switching was controlled differently. In general smooth gentle driving the suspension would be in 'soft' mode ("Normal" mode according to Citroen on series 2 vehicles) which utilized all 6 suspension spheres and allowed 'crossflow' of fluid from side to side producing the characteristic wafting ride, but as soon as the suspension ECU sensed a large or sudden change in one of the sensors it would put the suspension into 'hard' mode locking out the extra centre spheres and stopping the 'crossflow' of fluid, this dramatically firmed up the suspension and cut body roll, as soon as the vehicle stabilized the ECU would switch the suspension system back into 'soft' mode. This is the basis of "Hydractive 2", a soft cosseting ride all the time unless the conditions demand otherwise, switching a "Hydractive 2" vehicle into "Sport" mode doesn't just switch out the extra spheres as with "Hydractive 1", it simply just narrows the parameters that cause the suspension to go into 'hard' mode and keeps the suspension in that mode for longer before defaulting back to 'soft' mode. So a series 1.5 vehicle has the styling of a series 1 but with some of the suspension refinements of the series 2 vehicles. There are other detail changes to the actual implementation of the "Hydractive" but unless you are maintaining the vehicle yourself these are unimportant.
Components supplier Valeo designed the XM's lamps and a similar design was used on the Eagle Premier. The goal of the design was to reduce the size of the lamps and to increase their output. The XM's new "complex surface" headlamps were not powerful enough on dipped beam,though main beam was perfectly adequate. This could be traced to the use of a plastic optical element between the bulb and the outer lens, which yellowed with age. The XM was not alone here; early Ford Mondeos suffered from the same problem. Series 2 (from mid-1994 onwards) left-hand drive XMs had improved light units without the plastic element, but slow UK sales meant these were never fitted to right-hand drive cars. Headlamp retrofit kits using dual or triple round optics are available from third party suppliers, though this changes the aesthetics of the car. Series 1 cars can be fitted with series 2 headlights.
The XM was imported into the United States by CXA, a company that had imported several hundred CX25 GTi and Prestige model cars for Citroën loyalists in the USA.
CxAuto presented the XM at the 1991 New York Motor Show, in the spring of 1991 and began converting and selling the XM Pallas (combined with the 2.0 injection engine) and the XM Vitesse (combined with the 3.0 V6 engine). In 1993, the XM Exclusive was added to the range. Unfortunately, the XM cost 40% more than the CX Prestige, with a price in excess of $50,000 and only a few examples were sold. As a result of newer, tougher US anti-pollution standards, the import of these cars ceased in 1997. XM parts must be sent over from Europe.