Initially, the XM’s avant-garde design contributed to its popularity. However, its small audience soon led to the sedan’s downfall.
After the BMW XM’s debut went unnoticed, its successor became even less known. While the PHEV’s appearance could have been folded into an existing model, very few people would have noticed. This is because the arrival of new electric vehicles from BMW would simply be added to one of the existing models. Considering BMW’s upcoming release of an X5 Hydrogen powered vehicle, it’s likely that few people have noticed this development. The fact that Munich chose to make a stylistic impact with the XM makes perfect sense.
Three decades ago, a new car model faced a dilemma similar to the one facing a new model launched by another automaker. Both cars were intended to compete against larger European sedans that were loosely defined as “floaty.”
The Citroën XM style influenced the decade to come thanks to its distinctive look.
The CX was a long-running European flagship sedan; it lasted from 1974 to 1991. A slick and futuristic successor, the Citroën XM, picked up its baton. It was well remembered for pairing a plush hydropneumatic ride with a futuristic interior that included optional V6 power. The XM also had a low five-door body style that made it easy to recognize.
The spring of 1989 saw the release of the CX replacement known as the XM. This feat required significant pressure on its shoes.
The Mercedes W126 S-Class was the only production car to comptete with the XM in terms of interior space. The Bertone-styled car had a wedge-shaped body, but it was extremely aerodynamic thanks to its horizontal lines. It boasted a long front overhang, which was similar to older Mercedes sedans that had similar bodywork. Additionally, the angular styling made it look similar to the cars of its time. Its suspension provided a magic carpet ride thanks to its expansive interior space and beefy springs.
The CX was a compact five-door hatchback— compared to the XM, which was a spaceship on wheels.
At the ready were both 3.0-liter V6 gasoline engines and 2.1-liter inline-four powerplants. Diesel engines featured smaller, more frugal motors; they could be configured with either a 2.5-liter inline-four or a 2.0-liter inline-four.
Citroen sees no need to compete directly with the Germans, since the XM is aimed at second-tier sedans, but in reality it has little direct competition: you might buy the XM because it’s so French and unique, or you just want to buy something else . (If you want something different, its platform sibling is the Peugeot 605, and it’s much more conservatively styled). XM doesn’t necessarily have to prove itself in head-to-head battles with competitors, so reasoning.
Speaking of combat, if you’ve seen an XM in a movie, it’s probably in John Frankenheimer’s classic 1997 Ronin, a sedan that successfully took on a nitrogen-filled Audi S8 – This is unlikely to be paired with an unlikely outcome, all things considered – as the XM managed to dodge the S8 for a while.
Despite a bold bet with the Audi S8, the Citroen XM wasn’t as commercially successful as its predecessor, and production ceased in 2000 after more than 330,000 examples were built.
The sedan received mixed reviews from the automotive press, and while its ride quality was generally praised, it wasn’t considered an exciting driving experience. The XM’s styling was considered futuristic in 1989, but in the mid-1990s, as softer styling became fashionable, the XM seemed less futuristic, putting the XM in a sea of Japanese and European executive sedans be an odd choice. Citroen’s smaller model follows design cues from the 1990s, but since the XM isn’t cheap, it’s easier to find a buyer.
XM even made its way into the U.S. in small numbers, as dozens of examples were federalized by an importer called CXA Automotive, and most of the sedans and station wagons still exist today. They are what you see in these photos.
XM’s legacy is hard to shake off its traditional top spot in the brand’s lineup, and the C6’s successor may be more of a nod to past formulas. The C6 was also the brand’s rarest flagship of this particular lineage, approaching the number of some supercars at the time in terms of the number of units built. But even the C6 is arguably overshadowed by the XM’s striking styling.
Connor Mason is a passionate automotive journalist and the author behind the popular website motonews.info. With years of experience in the automotive industry, Connor is well-versed in all things related to cars and motorcycles.