1 Sep 1994
By CHRIS HARRIS
Brave, idiosyncratic Citroen has had a history of struggling against the tide of conformity. So it’s no surprise that, following arch-rival Peugeot’s 1975 takeover after yet another bankruptcy, eccentricities were excised.
The graceful, Giugiaro designed Xantia, however, was a happy medium in more ways than one.
Sharing many durable drivetrain components with the Peugeot 405 and 406, the front-wheel drive five-seater hatchback proudly displayed the French firm’s design flair as well as its famous hydro pneumatic self-levelling suspension, successfully modernised since its 1954 debut to imbue the Xantia with excellent ride and handling properties.
Only the solidly stolid cabin design disappointed purists, even if it did display oddly German-like quality – certainly compared to the boxy BX it replaced.
At first there were only two models – SX and VSX – powered by an 89kW/176Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine mated to a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox.
The VSX added “Hydractive” computer control to the suspension (for tauter cornering), alloy wheels, cruise control and rear power windows to the SX’s driver’s airbag, anti-lock brakes, power steering, power front windows, climate control air-conditioning and central locking.
In late ’95 the SX Image included alloy wheels and a sunroof, while in early ’96 all manual models were fitted with a new 97kW/180Nm 2.0-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine. The auto-only VSX Exclusive also arrived, adding leather upholstery and a sunroof.
In October ’96 a Xantia model explosion saw the base SX rechristened image.
Peugeot’s trusty 67kW/196Nm 1.9-litre manual-only turbo-diesel became an Image option, as did an especially commodious Image wagon variant.
And a manual-only 108kW/235Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder low-pressure turbo motor option was added to the top-line VSX, for fast and refined open road touring.