Since then, however, these have become much less of a concern. The engine's noise now only stands out after driving a petrol car, while the Xsara's roadholding has inspired greater confidence. But perhaps the most important factor in winning me over to the Xsara's charms had little to do with the car and much to do with the standards of our local Citroen franchise, Borocars, when the estate went in for its 12,000-mile service.
The dealership was open from 8am so it was easy to drop the car off before work, a courtesy lift ensured I reached my desk in good time, and the car was then returned on time, washed and valeted. These may appear minor achievements by the standards of the UK's service economy, but as some of my colleagues have discovered, good service is by no means guaranteed.
And this is an area which can have a significant influence in fleet drivers' choice of car. While Citroen has moved its diesel service intervals to 10,000 miles for cars registered after August 1, our R-reg Xsara is due to visit the dealer every 6,000 miles. If I was to receive such red carpet treatment three or four times a year, and contrast this with the horror stories told by colleagues of their experiences at other dealerships, it would definitely carry weight when I chose my next company car.
In other areas too the Xsara has proved easy to live with. The estate's boot is a proper, all-square, low-loading height cargo swallower, comfortably carrying a five-man squash team's large kit bags below its retractable cover. I did have some concern that when the engine was pushed hard, black clouds of soot billowed from the exhaust - sadly expected from old taxis, but hardly acceptable from a new engine - but these emissions have improved considerably following the car's service.
Yet rather surprisingly, the Xsara 1.9 TD would only qualify in the proposed band 3 of the Government's environmentally-driven Vehicle Excise Duty based on the car's carbon dioxide emissions. Despite achieving real life fuel economy figures of 49.2mpg, the Xsara's official combined figure of 42.8mpg reflects its poorer CO2 performance compared to the Volkswagen group diesels.
Overall, however, there is no denying that the Xsara estate meets my lifestyle needs, and at almost 50mpg and over 500 miles between fill-ups, also meets the needs of my pocket.