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Citroen Xsara 2001 Review

Ranging from $23,990 for the entry-level VTR to $32,990 for the performance-based VTS, the Xsara range has heavy competition.

You know the French are serious about product development when they abandon the rule that forbids Citroen and Peugeot competing against each other in motor sport.  Citroen is tackling four rounds of the world rally championship this season with its Xsara T4 before a full-blown assault in several years.

It will compete against stablemate Peugeot's 206, which brilliantly won the WRC last year.  Why the fuss about competition on the dirt? Because Citroen's program revolves around the Xsara VTS upmarket coupe.  The entry-level VTR and the five-door sedan have essentially the same underbelly as the VTS, which is derived from the T4.


On the road, the entry-level VTR performs quite nicely for a 1.6-litre four-potter. As one would expect from Citroen, the suspension is one of the car's highlights, offering quality ride and handling.  The steering is a little dull at suburban pace but more responsive at highway speed.

Front and rear styling changes add a heavier Euro edge, while the lighter, more powerful and more economical 1.6-litre engine is a surprise packet in that it is willing on tough climbs.  The 83kW of power offers spark, while optimum torque of 150Nm kicks in a little worse than midway through the rev range at 4000rpm.

On the new Xsara, Citroen's Chevron badging is more prominent at both ends, adding to on-road identification.  The five-door has a neat short-throw manual gear shifter and revised seats that seem small but offer comfort and support.

For pre-production models, the test cars made available for the launch are tidy packages that offer value for money in a tough segment.  Ranging from $23,990 for the entry-level VTR and $25,490 for the five-door to $32,990 for the performance-based VTS, the Xsara range is up against heavy competition.

Citroen's advantage is that none of its competitors boasts the technology levels offered in the Xsara range.  The VTS driven in the road test was a hand-built prototype that houses the same 2-litre heart as Peugeot's tasty 206 GTi.

It rides on a beautifully balanced chassis, and road-holding is boosted by high-performance damping supported by a decoupled anti-roll bar at the front.  Noise, vibration and harshness levels are improved, and the dash and instrument layout is ergonomically sound and easy to interpret.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

VTR 1.6 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,400 – 4,070 2001 Citroen Xsara 2001 VTR 1.6 Pricing and Specs
VTR Sportif 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,400 – 4,070 2001 Citroen Xsara 2001 VTR Sportif Pricing and Specs
VTS 2.0 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,600 – 4,400 2001 Citroen Xsara 2001 VTS 2.0 Pricing and Specs
1.6 1.6L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,400 – 4,070 2001 Citroen Xsara 2001 1.6 Pricing and Specs
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