I’m quite used to undertaking lengthy trips in cheap motor cars, but even I was a touch nervous about tackling a 450-mile journey in a car which cost £375 and which has a rather dubious reputation. Even Citroen folk were quite vocal in recommending that I didn’t even buy a cheap XM, let alone attempt to use one for long journeys. I’m very good at ignoring advice.
My new XM had already impressed in its first few days of ownership. It drove well, sipped fuel and provided comfort and enjoyment. I headed to Newtown and filled up the tank. Well, ok, I wimped out at £76 worth of diesel – turns out the tank was very nearly full though. I then aimed the XM towards Derbyshire, and steadily fell in love.
Even though this XM is not a prime example – I suspect the spheres need re-gassing or replacing – it provides great ride comfort. But when the fast, straight roads ran out and things got twisty, it displayed its Jekkyl-and-Hide character. It’s great fun on the bends too! It turns in with alacrity and body roll is wonderfully minimal.
Certainly, the more I drive this car, the more I seem to like it. Apart from the handbrake. I still haven’t quite got into the habit of using it as it’s too much faff! Oh, ok. And the clutch is too heavy. I’m wondering if a new cable might cure that issue. It certainly creaks a lot.
The next day, I left beautiful Derbyshire to attend a photo shoot in Nottinghamshire. The XM came in very handy, for transporting me and four colleagues to the shoot itself, and then also acting as a tracking car – just like the CXs the BBC used to use to capture Horse Racing action. I was glad to fill the car with people – putting some weight in a hydropneumatic Citroen makes the rear suspension work harder, and in turn makes the rear brakes work harder. It’s good for them.
After the photo shoot, it was a quick blat down the A1 to Stamford for the night. Next day, I dropped a colleague at his office in Peterborough before heading home – a good four-hour drive. Thank goodness then that the XM is so refined and so comfortable. It’s so nice owning a vehicle with prodigious torque again too. Even in fifth, you can put your foot down and it’ll actually accelerate. Great for safe overtaking.
Also pleasing is that during the course of this trip, I proved that I’d manage to get the sunroof to seal (the rubber on the glass had come away in one place – Captain Tolley’s Creeping Crack Cure seems to have sealed it again) and the remote central locking decided to start working properly. This car is getting better all the time. Also pleasing was that after 430 miles since fill-up, the XM still had half a tank of fuel remaining. I really do think that this is one of the best cars I’ve ever bought. It’s so good at so many things! I can forgive the flimsy interior trim, heavy clutch and stupid handbrake because it excels in so many other areas. Will it continue to prove reliable? Well, only time will tell. I certainly won’t begrudge spending a little more on it to keep it healthy. I need to get that sill welded up for a start…