When the ageless grow old - 30 years of Citroën Xantia

Some vehicles seem ageless. You don't see the years on them. Admittedly, the Citroën Xantia, yes it is female, as cars in France are generally female and not male, has become rare on the street. But you wouldn't believe the 30 years if you hadn't looked at the calendar first.

Calendars are incorruptible, and on March 3, 1993, Citroën presented the Xantia to the public in Geneva. It's so different from its predecessor, the boxy BX. Coming from the Bertone design studio, Citroën is said to have supplied the basic design, it is pleasing, but more arbitrary than polarizing.

Citroën saw it as a reduced edition of the big XM, at least that's how the manufacturer writes for the 30th anniversary. The XM, however, had more edge and character than the Xantia.

Xantia in the courtyard of a Spanish villa, 1993 - press photo for the premiere
Xantia in the courtyard of a Spanish villa, 1993 – press photo for the premiere

30 years of Citroën Xantia

For me, the Citroën mid-range contribution was always a bit boring. There was something missing from the design for the eye to latch on to. The lines were too pleasing and arbitrary. This continued in the interior, where the zeitgeisty wild patterns of the upholstery did the rest, unless leather had been ordered. However, that's my opinion, many people saw it differently, and in 1993 the Xantia was voted the most beautiful new release of the year in France.

The design did not detract from the success of the Xantia. On the contrary, maybe the audience appreciated her because she was so well-behaved and unobtrusive. Under the well-behaved design dress, she was able to score points with her technology. The HDI diesel engines were world class, quiet, unobtrusive and above all stingy in consumption. A domain of the Xantia, and in terms of diesel running culture, it was able to show its competitors from Germany quite a bit.

Xantia Sport - Design by Nicolas Arvanitakis
Xantia Sport - designed by Nicolas Arvanitakis

The Xantia also set standards with the Hydraktiv II suspension, the evolution of hydropneumatics. She was even ahead of her time as Xantia Active, the AFS system (active chassis stabilization) was a pioneering achievement. It must also have been reliable, an acquaintance drove his Xantia more than half a million kilometers and repaired all the defects himself.

1,3 million units - a success

Between 1993 and 2002, Citroën produced more than 1,3 million units, which shows that the brand did something right. After the end of production in Rennes, the career of the Xantia was not over. It continued internationally, it was manufactured in Iran until 2010, and the Xantia also rolled off the assembly line in China. A total of 1.326.259 copies came together.

Citroën Xantia HDI Diesel - press photo 1999
Citroën Xantia HDI Diesel – press photo 1999

The brand celebrated the 30 years that you don't see from the Xantia, but which includes it in the illustrious circle of automotive classics, on March 4th in the Citroën Conservatory in Paris. 56 Xantia were on site, that's not many if you remember the number of pieces mentioned above.

Maybe it's really the case that Xantia is hard to beat GS and BX, not to mention CX, DS and XM. Something is still missing to take it seriously as an automotive classic, but time will tell. All the better that a group of enthusiasts has formed who are already receiving vehicles for the future.

With images from Citroën Communication

5 thoughts on "When the ageless grow old - 30 years of Citroën Xantia"

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    Who has turned the clock….
    The Xantia has always been the understated Citroën, not as distinctive as its predecessor the BX, certainly not as avant-garde as the larger XM (yes, I know...THE). Well-behaved. Nondescript. I loved it, especially as a station wagon! And it always seemed to me that it was more frugal than the XM, which had electronics problems, especially in the early years; which could be turned off later.

    However: the interior of the Xantia was really boring in gray or you found yourself in wild fabric patterns that were too playful, inappropriate. They would have belonged in a "fun" small car. A leather interior was then mandatory.
    It was not only available with a hydractiv chassis, the regular hydropneumatics were also still available. I think I would have preferred this one.

    For me, the Xantia would have been a very interesting car when I had the money, but it no longer existed. And back then, a used purchase was out of the question. And now he's 30.

    • blank

      … Is that true, is it really that late?
      Goes well with a French voiture. I'm amazed at how many cars are currently becoming vintage cars that seem so modern to me, both technically and visually. Slowly one sees more H license plates on plastic bumpers (often already in body color) than on chrome ones. A few more years and some classic car meetings can hardly be distinguished from any parking lot 😉

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        Yes, a good trend, if that were the case - classic car meetings AND parking lots where you can see actual sustainability in practice!

        • blank

          I haven't seen it that (positively) yet, but I can't help but smile. That is indeed a warm and valid thought!

          may it be so! As far as I know, the average age of registered vehicles has been growing by a tenth every year for years. Perhaps we are not so much a throwaway society as is generally assumed? How actually promoted and politically demanded by scrapping bonuses and co? Maybe we are conscious and empowered consumers? Perhaps we refuse some premiums and some consumption?
          That would really be something....

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            Perhaps the cars built around the 2000s belong to some kind of golden generation. Not too much electronics and plastic installed, durable with care. Current cars are not designed to last that long.


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