Ahead of its time again - Citroën Xantia Activa

Admittedly, I was never a fan of the Citroën Xantia. I liked the CX, DS and BX, as well as the C6 and the XM. The Xantia left me untouched. What was the issue? Maybe on a test drive I did with the Xantia at the end of my BX era. One afternoon was enough to form an opinion.

The Xantia was a good, modern car. Nicely drawn, the HDI diesel ran refined and unobtrusive, as was the whole car. Unobtrusive. For me boring and too modern and balanced. Too little character and too much perfection. The Xantia was thus stamped for me, over and over.

Of course that was unfair of me. Under the pleasing body designed by Bertone, there was a lot of innovation, the Xantia still carried some of the old Citroën spirit. Hidden, of course, the avant-garde had optically taken a break.

Citroën Xantia Activa (1999)
Citroën Xantia Activa (1999)

All the more had happened with the legendary hydropneumatics. The system, which has been used practically unchanged since the days of the DS and the CX, had undergone an evolution in the XM. The hydropneumatics first became Hydraktiv and, as a further improvement, Hydraktiv II. At the beginning, the Hydraktiv chassis was only available in a few variants on the XM, but it was there on the Xantia from the start. Quickly explained, now support control units and nitrogen storage (one per axle) the already known hydraulics.

One of the intended effects of the technical evolution was that the Xantia would no longer lower itself into the spectacular sleep mode after a certain period of time. What thrilled generations of Citroën fans and drove them to play was over. The Xantia stoically maintained the level for days. Progress can also be boring.

Citroën in compatibility mode

With the hydractive suspension, the double-angle brand approached the normal car world without betraying its roots. Gone were the days when the DS and CX just floated around the world like heaving sofas. Following the spirit of the times, the chassis became more precise and sporty, Citroën was now in compatibility mode.

There was, unbelievably, a sport mode for the chassis, which would have caused the old Citroën engineers to take a deep hit on a blue Gauloises. They still wouldn't have understood. With Hydractive II, the sport mode worked in a practical way, the XM or Xantia stayed longer in comfort mode and only hardened the chassis during sporting events.

The Xantia Activa was years ahead of its time
The Xantia Activa was years ahead of its time

Citroën Xantia Activa - ahead of its time

The system had potential and it could be expanded. From the middle of 1995, the Xantia Activa was offered in Germany, which was only available with the small 2 liter petrol (optional turbo) engines, from 96 with D12 Diesel and a year later with the big V6 engine (ES 9). The Xantia Activa had the AFS system (active chassis stabilization), which is known as automatic roll compensation, and it drew a line under the old Citroën driving experience.

Maybe some fans wept for that, but the Xantia was a few years ahead of its time. Only in the year 2000 did Mercedes move with the ABC - Active Body Control - System (today E-Active Body Control System)after, in the high-priced CL Coupe and SL Roadster. Citroën, on the other hand, offered the Activa models at particularly low prices from today's perspective. A Xantia Activa V6, almost fully equipped from the factory, could be bought for less than 30.000 DM.

This example is said to be in new car condition
This example is said to be in new car condition

An investment – ​​who would have thought

However, the Xantia Activa is no longer that cheap today, because there are not many specimens that have survived. On the other hand, collectors have long recognized their historical value. Furthermore, the Activa variant of phase 2 with the V6, which was not cheap by Citroën standards, only had 1.358 copies.

Artcurial auctioned  a Xantia Activa, with the big 200 hp V6 engine, which has only driven 80.000 kilometers. The car is very neat, in a condition that can be considered as new.

The price of the Xantia (Phase 2) from 1999 to €25.000 to €30.000. The Activa would have doubled its value from back then. Perhaps the increase in value is even higher in reality, because Citroën was generous with discounts.

Featuring artwork by Artcurial

5 thoughts on "Ahead of its time again - Citroën Xantia Activa"

  • To this day, the Xantia Activa V6 is the fastest vehicle in a Spanish "elk test". Even before various Porsche...

  • Yes, the Xantia. An outwardly beautiful evolution of the BX. The Hydractiv II suspension was then also more reliable than the first throw in the XM. Some Xantia were also delivered with the traditional hydropneumatics.
    Technically, the Activa was really top. If I remember correctly, it still holds the record for the highest safe cornering speed thanks to the roll compensation and the hydractiv suspension.

    I had a look at some a few years ago. Great on the outside, also the color selection. But inside ..... optically a mixture between Opel and Japanese middle class. No, I didn't like that. So C5 III. Although – as Lizi already wrote – you urgently need a capable workshop even with these more modern variants. And there aren't any within a radius of at least 50 kilometers either. Ultimately, that also stopped me from wasting a thought on a BX or XM.

  • I really like this Xantia by Bertone. It has Mediterranean automotive charm and its silhouette is reminiscent of Lancia.

    I find the rare Volvo 780 from Bertone comparatively boring and dry.

    • In fact, I had a dark blue station wagon (called "Break") as a 6 V1999 with Activa 2 suspension. I find the silhouette of the Break even more harmonious than that of the sedan. The V6 is a stunner. In conjunction with Activa 2, it was tremendous fun scaring TDI's on the highway. You don't look at the car, but if you want to, it easily runs its 230-240km/h without having done anything to the engine. Things only really get going from 200 km/h - mind you without a turbo! Well, I got older and at some point I sold the Xantia. Maybe a little hasty. But that's the way it is.

  • Unfortunately, I had a similar experience with Tom when it came to the Xantia. The difference is that I once owned one decades ago. Dark green, automatic, leather-covered and otherwise equipped with everything that was available from Citröen. Since it was considered unbearably boring at the time, we parted ways after about a year. I regret that very much. A magnificent automobile whose design I find refreshingly different today.
    Since the search for a capable Citröen workshop in the area has so far been unsuccessful, I am returning to the brand from Tisch. Which is extremely unfortunate. Because it's not just Saab miracles that happen in Spain.

    The Lizi

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