France or Sweden? Citroën and Peugeot vs. Saab!

Were the times better in the past? From an automotive perspective, they were more diverse. Angular delusion in the form of an SUV was still far away, but individuality was possible. It got really colorful in the early 90s when Citroën XM and Peugeot 605 were in top form. Saab opposed them with the 9000 CD. Can you compare these three very different characters at all?

Two Frenchmen and a Swede in 1991 on the Anderstorp Ring
Two Frenchmen and a Swede in 1991 on the Anderstorp Ring

I still remember the Premiere 89 at the IAA and at the local Citroën representative. My Saab time was still ahead of me, the CX Turbo was a reality. The XM polarized. Not only in comparison with Saab, but also the traditional Citroën clientele. It was a car from the future, with a pronounced wedge shape, which Saab later softened on the 9000 CS. Future elements continued in the interior, which affected the ease of use. But it didn't matter, the XM was a car on a mission. And everything else wasn't that important.

The Peugeot 605 therefore came in a direct comparison. Saab calls him bland, one can also say conservative. Its design is pleasing, but also meaningless. In any case, the PSA Group managed the feat of creating two completely different characters on a basis. It is doubtful whether both brands competed in the upper middle class. If you drove a 605, the Citroën was too much the car of tomorrow. Or the day after tomorrow.

As always, the Spotlight editors are very fair with their competitors' models. In many disciplines, the two French and the Swedish contribution are on the same level. Better operation in the Saab, high comfort in the Citroën and in the Peugeot thanks to hydropneumatics or a conventional but electronically controlled suspension. The XM is easier to load due to its tailgate, the editorial team unfortunately omits the second rear window in the Citroën. It prevented interior passengers from being bothered by draft winches when the flap was open. So much love for comfort was normal for the brand with the double angle.

The weaknesses of the Gallic competitors are clearly defined. Saab scores with the strong turbo. The Europa V6, which can also be found at Volvo, cannot do anything about it despite the 3 liter displacement. The Saab engine has more torque and is more efficient with fuels. The four-cylinder engines were not well received. Without charging, they are weak in draft and do not fit into the higher vehicle class. Surely correctly observed and still valid today. The XM has now become a lover, the 605 has more or less disappeared, but the base engines remain unpopular. That only changed a year after the comparison test. A 2 liter turbo with an initial 141 HP was from now on the golden mean in the engine range and accompanied the French models until the end of production.

At the end of the comparison, Saab sees the 9000 CD Turbo at the front and rates it as the more modern car. If you take the engine technology and the core competencies such as safety and ergonomics, then this really applies. In general, however, it is striking how close the vehicles are in many disciplines, even if they are three very distinctive character types.

Common to all is the long construction period. The Saab 1998 first departed in 9000 and the 605 a year later. The XM held out until 2000. While Saab launched another commercial success with the 9-5, the French with the 607 and C6 in Germany could never go back to their big days in the 90s.

18 thoughts too "France or Sweden? Citroën and Peugeot vs. Saab!"

  • Many thanks to the blog for the daily (!) Distraction and entertainment in the form of a nice dose of Saab! This film is also a successful journey in three time machines. Great that the blog has spared no time or effort to digitize these old videos!

    Apart from the driving performance and the consumption: I like the 9000 by far the best from the interior design, but from the outside I like the “Zitro-eeen” 🙂 (wonderful pronunciation of the dubbing voice!). Probably, as Tom rightly states, it is because it was a car “from the future” and thus comes closer to today's taste.

    Shouldn't the XM therefore have been better compared to the 9000 CC (hatchback), which was probably also the more popular model among Saab fans?

    And then I need a little extra tuition: where was the second (!) Rear window in the Zitro-eeen ??? With the best will in the world (unfortunately) I can't imagine that! Was it permanently installed and separated the rear seats from the luggage compartment as a glass wall? Could you fold down the back seat if there was more freight? What happened to the second disc? Was it also folded away? Questions after questions - all completely irrelevant, but very interesting! 🙂

    • The second rear window was on the hat pad. If you lifted the tailgate up to load the trunk, it stayed in place. There was no drafts for passengers inside. Great luxury, series in top model with V6. If the memory is not deceptive to me, the pane is made of a plastic material and can be removed. It also tends to generate noise on poor roads. The back seat can be folded down.

  • Interesting report, something has been striking me lately, something Volvo bashing obviously seems to always be necessary, so the text reads "The Europa V6, which you can also find at Volvo, cannot do anything against despite a 3 liter displacement" this is a shame and actually not worthy of the blog, it is wrong anyway.
    The comparison dates back to 1991, when Volvo's 960 was the flagship, but it was powered by a 3 liter 24V aluminum inline six-cylinder. A modern engine with extremely smooth running and good torque. In addition, the 960 was equipped with a multi-link rear axle, which, in addition to high comfort, also brought the best driving behavior.
    In fall 1990, Technikens Värld had to find out that the SAAB 9000 compared to the Volvo 960 had looked it over. So the SAAB was attested to more sportiness, but the Volvo convinced with more smoothness and driving comfort!

    • This article is only about the Euro V6, which can also be found at Volvo. But not just any Volvo model, but Citroën and Peugeot. I wonder where you recognize Volvo bashing.

  • @Ebasli

    Since I also really appreciate Citroen in addition to Saab (I had a Xantia, which caused absolutely no problems until the end, 470.000 km) and also particularly like the XM, I can answer the question of the second rear window. When the tailgate is opened, it remains fixed in its position, ie it runs parallel to the tailgate window when it is closed.
    Of course, this second, inner pane can be opened manually, i.e. folded upwards, e.g. for cleaning purposes - or, of course, removed if the entire trunk is needed with the rear seats and cover plate folded down.
    A good idea, but this construction can tend to rattle in older vehicles, but remedy is very easy.

    I had a personal lucky day in Sweden about 17 years ago when my representative picked me up from the airport with an XM. I enjoyed this super suspension (as with the Xantia), unfortunately I was sitting in the back seat and had to "navigate" the route to the print shop to be visited by map, as there were no navigation systems yet. The result: I got out of the car with a green, pale skin color because this extremely comfortable suspension and looking at the map didn't do my stomach any good. In the front seats, on the other hand, with a clear view to the front, this hydropneumatics is an unmatched thing that hardly any other vehicle can match.

    The way back to the airport: Now with a Saab 9000 CS, comparatively hard suspension, but here I had no problems in the back seat.

    Nevertheless, the XM ranks ahead of the 9000 in my rating. Of course it looks different compared to the 900 I, my previous three 900 i (deliberately no turbos) each covered 560.000 km.

    A combination of Citroen hydropneumatics with the solid body of a 900 I or 9-5 would be my ideal car. But both no longer exist….


  • Uli Beitel and Tom

    Thanks for this interesting answer. And almost unbelievable what finesses some designers or engineers have come up with. (For my part, however, I usually load and unload the car before the passengers get out or after they get out. But funny anyway.)

    Also very interesting is the descriptive description of how one fared in the back seat of the Citroën - and how long-lived it was. That did not correspond to the popular (German) opinion about French cars.

    How did he fare when it came to rust compared to the Saab?

  • @ ebasli

    From my own experience I can only speak of the Xantia:

    Excellent paintwork, especially on the front subframe on which the motor-gearbox unit is installed. Far better than my two 9-5 I, where I had to apply a number of layers of protective lacquer to avoid the unsightly surface rust.
    Despite the comparatively thin sheets of the Xantia (correspondingly there were miserable NCAP crash test results, but these were just as bad with the 900 II or 9-3 I, which were both based on the weak structure of the Opel Vectra) there were absolutely no rust problems.

    The only critical point with Xantia and XM: the upper attachments of the front struts, which required careful preservation. In extreme cases with very strong corrosion in this area, the struts could come loose and even deform the bonnet.

    The often skeptical eye of hydropneumatics is absolutely problem-free, provided you change the green liquid at least every two years and clean the reservoir. A routine job that only takes 30 minutes - provided you know the position of the screw to let the high pressure of the suspension system escape.
    If you do not know this position, there is the notorious “Citroen shower”: You look like a green (or brown - with old liquid) male, because you were watered from top to bottom :-).

    It's a shame that Citroen has abolished this hydropneumatics for cost reasons. This system does not even exist for marketing-oriented “DS”, although this could have been accommodated much better here in terms of calculation. Missed the chance.

  • Uli Beitel

    Thank you for this informative and exhilarating answer - I'm just imagining the green man after the Citroën shower. Wonderful! 🙂

  • ... I mean, of course, before the passengers get IN ... ts ts 🙁

  • Volvo bashing ...

    deliberately or even systematically, I've never found here on the blog. But Martin Schmuki is right about this.

    The much scolded Euro V6 was originally a 2,7 liter unit and was installed by Volvo in 1975 in the 260 and later in 760 models.

    The paths separated later. The French increased the displacement and Volvo had lost all interest in the things.

    It never existed in the 900s. Instead, at the beginning of the 1990s, Volvo increasingly relied on turbos (4-cylinder) and on 6-pot vacuum cleaners again on its own designs and in-line engines. All gasoline engines in the 900s have a good reputation.

    The chassis too. And the station wagons are unmatched in their utility ...

    But anyway
    Film and articles are a pleasure. The pronunciation of Zitroh-eN alone is worth its weight in gold. Thanks Tom! ! !

    The French engines were actually hopelessly inferior at the time. 122 hp in a car that was at least nationally attributed to the upper class?

    It is a little surprising how graciously the film deals with it. Today you would mercilessly exploit that.

    My personal winner today is clearly the 9K. What else?

  • Back then I thought the XM was great. It stood out from the crowd as nicely as the BX, albeit one size smaller. As a GTI but a hot device. Here is a link to the 13th disc of the XM
    I only found the 9000 nice after the facelift and then as a hatchback. The Peugeot and its successor were also very good cars and not entirely unsuccessful. They just leaned heavily on their German competitors.

  • Well, we don't call it bashing but swipes ...

    How was it in a recent post you just wrote….
    “The 740 GLE was out of date and it took until 1991 to find an answer to the Trollhättan challengers. Then it came all the more convincingly in the form of the 850, which was born with the help of Saab engineers. ”

    No, the Volvo 740 was not obsolete, it had a rigid axle, that's right, this was a very complex construction with a separate subframe, the advantages of the rigid axle are well known, constant track, constant camber, which is also known from the SAAB 900 and 9000 😉
    The revised 740 (940) survived until 1998, so it couldn't be so bad.

    I also doubt that the 850 could only be created with the help of recruited SAAB engineers, since the manufacturer from Gothenburg had had front-wheel drive vehicles in the delivery program since 1985 (440/460/480).

    I also read that this article is about the Citroen XM, the Peugeot 605 and the 9000 from SAAB, but when I found out that the PRV engine, the engine from SAAB, couldn't keep up with the water, Volvo strangely came back into it Game 😉

    Since my heart beats for other brands from Sweden and overseas in addition to SAAB, I noticed that.

    At this point I would also like to praise you, the blog is always very readable and informative. Especially in this time, it is always a welcome break from everyday life when a new contribution appears again!

    I owned various SAABs, in addition to the classic 900s (I still have three of them today), two 9-3s and several 9-5s, I appreciated them all, these cars also had their strengths and weaknesses, just like Volvo vehicles did and any other manufacturer have 😉

  • @ Martin Schmuki,

    I feel like you. I also like cars to the left and right of Saab and recognize their respective weaknesses and advantages ...

    But that's exactly what I like so much about this blog. The reports always take a fair look outside the box. The blogger himself seems to me first and foremost to be a happy motorist with a very broad horizon and secondly a convinced Saab driver.

    In addition, all contributions are factually correct to far more than 90%. If the ÖR had this dream quota, I would praise it from morning to evening ...

    If you come with the 400 Volvos and their front-wheel drives, then you should also mention that technically nothing came from these cars from Volvo and they are small cars. These things are as much Volvo as a 9-2 would have been developed by Saab ...

    If the 850 is traded here as a large and modern litter from Gothenburg, I will find no hair in this soup. Everything correct and good. And someone who is very Volvo-savvy and currently also owns a 164E writes that…

  • @Gosh

    Thanks for the great link - now I can also visualize this extremely interesting extra of the Zitro-eeen!

  • I once had a 164E, one of those, in blue-green metallic and cognac-colored leather, very fine vehicles.
    I can only congratulate and wish you much fun!

  • Thanks Martin Schmuki,

    He is indeed fun. Unlike the modern French from the film, it has its max. Torque even at 2.500 rpm.

    Switch + overdrive = lively + frugal

    Black leather and originally light blue metallic, unfortunately repainted by the previous owner with a RAL tone ...

  • Citroen, my first car love, 2CV, GS and then a CX in the late 70s. What kind of car was that! Released in 1974 and looked like another star. I was no longer so enthusiastic about the XM and so I switched to Lancia, only to end up at Saab years later. Today I am still loyal to the two loser brands Saab and Lancia, even if it is getting very difficult to keep them alive.

    A sense of achievement yesterday. With the Lancia Delta HF 1984 to TÜV and out without problems. The examiner was amazed at the completely rust-free delta.

    Happy Easter wherever and stay healthy!

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