The XM is a large car built by French manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroën between 1989 and 2000.
The XM is regarded as an excellent car by enthusiasts, who relish its rock bottom second hand values, and enjoy equipment and trim levels similar, or even superior to that of other luxury cars such as BMWs and Mercedes, it is universally and somewhat undeservedly feared by the non-initiated public, and Citroën dealers alike. Not a car for the faint hearted, or those afraid to get their hands dirty. That said, most of the stories about the car's legendary complexity are easily dispelled with a little research/advice from fellow owners. It's actually not that hard to understand (nor that unreliable) when you see how it is supposed to work.
In spite of this, mechanics at service departments cower in fear when an XM pulls up outside. The Citroën dealer network's knowledge of the car in some markets, particularly the UK and Ireland, is utterly abysmal.
Perhaps this is due in part to the low sales of XMs in these markets, meaning that they have little or no experience of the car. Indeed, some of the younger service technicians profess to never having seen one.
As a result of this, rare is the XM enthusiast who would trust a main dealer to go anywhere near his beloved car. Most owners tend to be self supporting, though many reliable independent garages who specialise in Citroëns do exist, and are widely utilised by those in the know.
Numerous excellent internet resources exist for the discussion of XM's, including the XM-L list on Yahoo Groups.
Looks-wise, you could be forgiven for believing the XM to be the result of crossing a whale with a Delorean. its pointed, angular, almost fierce looking, aerodynamic front gives way to a large, wide rear. It is also reminiscent of a 'cheese wedge' shape, which it is sometimes referred to as. Time has been kind to the XM's features, and it looks futuristic even today, some 17 years after its initial debut. Indeed, its striking looks resemble nothing else on the road, and it still draws stares from bewildered passers-by.
A facelift 'Series 2' version was released in 94-95, in which the front grille was changed to match the 'corporate nose' already worn by the smaller, but less distinctive Xantia. There were many other changes to interiors, engines, and specifications, but many XM enthusiasts prefer the original Series 1 front grille, and the highly unusual single spoke steering wheel, which offers an unobstructed view of the highly packed instrument panel.
The XM is often referred to as 'The Enterprise, --Millennium Falcon--', and other sci-fi euphemisms, due to the fact that it has more gadgets, buttons, and lights than you would find on the console of a starship.
Performance-wise, it is an intergalactic motorway mile muncher. It is content to sit at 90mph on the motorway all day, without so much as a whimper, its passengers in perfect comfort the whole time. Indeed, due to the superior hydraulic suspension system, and excellent handling, many XM drivers report feeling alert and refreshed, even after a particularly long journey.
The car's dynamically adapting Hydractive system, fitted to all UK standard models, allows for highly spirited driving on twisty, bumpy roads, without diminishing passenger comfort or safety. Indeed, drivers of smaller, supposedly more nimble cars are often left gobsmacked as it blasts into the distance, after they make the mistake of goading one into a race on a roundabout or snaking country road. The look of bewilderment upon their faces is indicative of the fact that they clearly did not expect such agility from this old, heavy, wallowing French barge. In the words of an infamous XM owner "The XM moves like an 18 stone ballet dancer".
The estate models are renowned for their utterly cavernous boot space. Indeed, they have been known to swallow washing machines and tumble driers whole, in a TARDIS like fashion, whilst still leaving space for the rest of the kitchen contents.
The XM is the successor to the legendary Citroën CX, and precedes the new Citroën C6.
The XM shared a platform with PSA's other car, the Peugeot 605, which ironically, was also one of its main competitors. Other adversaries include the Renault Safrane in the domestic French market, and the Ford Granada and Vauxhall/Opel Senator internationally.
The XM isn't perfect, and can exhibit a plethora of strange, and often bewildering faults. That said, the majority of these are minor, though their relatively high frequency may go part way to explaining the car's reputation of being unreliable. These minor issues are a common source of frustration and amusement among XM owners. Many problems are well known and documented, and indeed are not to dissimilar to problems that most cars of this age and specification experience.
One amusing side to this is the use of 'XM Radio'. This is not to be confused with the Satelite based radio service of the same name. Instead, it involves tuning the car's radio to a particular FM frequency, and then driving around listening for the whines which signify the operation of the electrovalves in the hydraulic system. This is a commonly used, and useful tactic to troubleshoot problems with the Hydractive suspension system.
The XM is reportedly on the edge of being afforded 'classic' car status. It is already somewhat of a cult-mobile, something which is set to intensify as numbers diminish and the cars become rarer still.
A truly great car, technologically light-years ahead of its time, underappreciated, misconstrued, and feared.