Progress report: 2022 DS 9 vs Citroen XM 1990
Two fancy French saloons, each claiming pillowlike comfort. How do they compare?
AN XM? I’VE NOT SEEN ONE OF THOSE FOR AGES
You and us both. Citroen’s luxobarge pedigree began with the DS, followed by the CX, and then this, the XM. Launched in 1989 and styled by Bertone, one of its key selling points was its self-levelling, electronically controlled hydropneumatic suspension that promised a silky smooth ride. Despite winning plenty of plaudits from the automotive media, sales suffered due to perceived unreliability issues, and it was quietly phased out 11 years later.Advertisement - Page continues below
WHAT’S THE CAR ON THE LEFT?
The first executive saloon from Citroen’s luxury sub-brand, the DS 9 launched in 2020 and is here to take the fight to its premium German rivals. Design-wise there’s much chrome trim plus several nods to DSes of old, including those cornet-style lights on the C-pillars. Like the XM, however, its biggest party trick is its Active Scan Suspension, which works by way of a camera which scans the road ahead in conjunction with multiple sensors, with each wheel individually damped to improve ride quality. Clever stuff.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE IN POWER?
The XM was available with a range of diesel and petrol engines – including a 3.0-litre V6 – throughout its lifetime, with this early example featuring a 2.0-litre petrol producing 130bhp mated to
a four-speed automatic gearbox. DS 9 buyers get a choice of a 1.6-litre petrol 4cyl good for 222bhp, a plug-in hybrid (as we have here) that pairs a lesser 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 108bhp electric motor for an identical 222bhp and up to 34 miles of all-electric range. Plus there’s a range-topping 355bhp variant.Advertisement - Page continues below
GOTCHA. SO WHAT’S THE XM LIKE?
Settling in, the first thing you notice is the glorious single-spoke steering wheel – replaced on later facelifted models – shortly followed by just how beautifully soft the seats are. At lower speeds it’s a comfortable cruiser, but up the ante and the 2.0-litre engine feels somewhat underpowered. Still, it’s oh-so comfortable, with the fancy suspension smothering out any bumps in the road. Owner Rob regularly uses this on his 100-mile round commute, and it’s not hard to see why. What reliability issues?
AND THE DS 9?
Where the XM feels delightfully old school, the DS 9 feels suitably premium, with its digital dials, fancy infotainment system, plush materials and cocooned interior. In truth, there are few similarities between these two, the DS 9 feels positively space age by comparison. On the move the DS 9 glides where the XM floats courtesy of its smart suspension – slightly firmer, less forgiving, but still pleasingly pillowy – with the hybrid powertrain adding to the sense of harmony.