Our long-term test Xsara 1.6i SX is a good example of how traditional Citroen qualities have been effectively passed on and developed, the Xsara being particularly well endowed in the ride and handling department.
On the open road the Xsara is a pleasure to drive. It is responsive, quick and highly manoeuvrable through the tightest of bends, while ride - remaining taut and even - instils confidence at all times. Although the lower medium sector is full of cars which excel in this area, the Xsara takes some beating.
In town, however, the car is a little too bland to stand out from the crowd, especially when seen against the more stylish Volkswagen Golf, Fiat Bravo and Vauxhall Astra. Similarly, the Xsara's interior styling is unexceptional. All the buttons and switches are conveniently placed and functional, while the seats are comfortable and supportive, but the general layout is not particularly pleasing to the eye and the plastics and fabrics seem cheap and flimsy, thus likely to quickly show signs of age when faced with the rigours of life as a busy fleet workhorse.
Interior space on the other hand is more than generous comparing favourably with the competition. All in all its a car that does most things well and some things very well. But, in the lower medium sector in particular, so do its competitors.