As we already wrote, Citroën officially sold its last car in the USA / Canada in 1974. The carmaker withdrew from North America due to design regulations that outlawed core features of Citroën cars.
Between 1974 and 1997, some Citroëns were imported by a Dutch company called CxAuto which remanufactured Citroëns to ensure that they comply with US Federal rules. The main modifications were the headlights and the side lights (yellow for the front ones, red for the rear ones).
CxAuto imported a few hundreds CX in its Prestige and GTi versions until 1991.
In 1991, CxAuto presented the XM at the New York Motor Show, in the spring of 1991 and began converting and selling the XM Pallas (combined with the 2.0 injection engine) and the XM Vitesse (combined with the 3.0 V6 engine). In 1993, the XM Exclusive was added to the range. Unfortunately, the XM cost 40% more than the CX Prestige, with a price in excess of $50,000 and only a few examples were sold.
TEST DRIVE - 1993 Citroen XM - Base price: $49,990 - EPA rating: 15 mpg city/ 21 mpg highway - Price as tested: $55,140 - Incentives: none
Citroen Xm Offers Offbeat Luxury, Memorable Styling
February 4, 1993 By Al Haas, Philadelphia Inquirer
Renault left the U.S. marketplace in the late '80s, then Peugeot pulled out in the early '90s. For the forsaken lovers of imported French transit, being a Francophile was becoming more difficult.
But all is not lost, at least not for America's more affluent Francophiles. If you have enough francs, and a yen for something unforgettably French and ridiculously rare, then Citroen has a set of wheels for you.
It is called the Citroen XM.
The XM is a luxurious, $50,000 European road car that is quite mainstream by Citroen's standards - and fairly esoteric by ours. It also is an automobile that comes with an unwritten guarantee that it will not be confused with someone else's when you pull into the country club parking lot. According to John Stout, the car's West Chester, Pa., dealer and national distributor, only about 70 of these distinctive cars will be sold in the United States this model year.
The exclusivity has to do with demand and the rather limited conversion capabilities of CXA, the Middlesex, N.J., company that imports the Citroens and modifies them to meet U.S. requirements. The changes include the substitution of a BMW catalytic converter and the installation of Pontiac headlights, a third taillight, a set of door-mounted automatic seat belts and side-impact beams in the doors.
While it is just making its debut in the United States, the front-drive XM is not really a new car. It is a version of a midsize, five-door Citroen sedan and four-door wagon that have been on the European market since 1990.
What makes the XM so unusual, apart from its import numbers, are its styling and suspension. Unlike its predecessor, the XM doesn't look like a car from Mars. Rather, it qualifies as handsome and highly original.
It manages to be arresting and aerodynamic while assiduously avoiding that most ubiquitous of contemporary cliches, the aerodynamic egg. I found my eye particularly drawn to that projectile front end, which looks like it is knifing through the wind even when the car is standing at the curb.
The car's interior is roomy, comfortable and sufficiently sumptuous, thanks to a generous use of leather and exotic wood trim. Its only aesthetic downside is the dashboard, which has that clunky, other-generational angularity found in some Volvos.
The XM has operational touches that caught this driver a little off guard. The steering wheel is a rather strange, one-spoke affair that returns to center with such enthusiasm that it can yank you a bit off course if you let it. The foot-operated parking brake has to be locked in place by the dash control that also releases it.
The stereo controls are secreted behind a lift-up wood panel. The fuel gauge is graduated in liters. There is a second rear window inside the regular one that keeps the cool or warm air inside the car when you open the rear hatch.
If this sort of thing isn't offbeat enough to meet your exotica quota, you always can order the car with the voice-controlled stereo and telephone. This $3,000 option will dial the radio station and the telephone number you ask for and play the compact disc you mention.
From a technical standpoint, the XM's strangest feature is its hydro-pneumatic suspension. The XM doesn't have springs and shock absorbers like other cars. Its ride is controlled by spheres of nitrogen gas and a related hydraulic system.
The computer-controlled hydraulic system adjusts the stiffness of the ride and the degree of shock absorption by varying the pressure it exerts on the gas in the spheres. By selecting the automatic suspension setting, you let the computer adjust the ride and shock absorption to driving conditions. Selecting the ''sport suspension'' keeps things firm all the time.
The XM rides and handles well, although with a tad more wind and tire noise than you might expect from a luxury car. Acceleration, courtesy of a 3-liter V-6 engine that develops close to 200 horsepower, is brisk but not blinding. The acceleration times - 0 to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds - improve a bit if you substitute the optional five-speed manual gearbox for the standard four-speed automatic.