UK CAR Reviews: Citroen ZX Estate 1.9 Turbo Diesel 1997




Is this an ugly car or what? Even if you don't think it's ugly then you will be hard pressed to find anything nice to say about its styling. Bland is about as much as you will be able to summon up. This model has now been superceded by the Xsara which may be a visual improvement but that's not really saying much, is it?

If you're not too concerned with niceties, such as styling, then it's not really that bad a car. A more realistic badge to carry would have been a Peugeot one that would give you few causes for complaint. To drive a car with a Citroen badge though, you have a perfect right to expect something out of the ordinary, something not quite mainstream, something a little... well , oddball. To drive a Citroen which feels so much like any other car is to feel just a little bit cheated.


The ZX is a bit down market from the next up in the range of motors, but competitive with the likes of the Escort and the Astra. It's all arranged well enough, and if you like your cars to be conservative in all aspects, this will fit the bill nicely. The seats are a little on the unsupportive side, but we are not talking megabucks here so I guess they're passable. It's not the roomiest car about in the class though and always feels a bit more super-mini than small family. I don't normally spend too much time in the back, but it seems spacious enough. Whether the estate is any more attractive than the standard car is debatable. Sure, it's a little roomier in the boot, but its hardly earth shattering and the hatchback is fairly square and usable in the first place.

Interior Picture

Engine Transmission.

Unlike the bigger cars though the 1.9 Turbo Diesel is a fine match for this car. Performance is spirited if not exactly inspirational. The gear change is a bit on the stiff side and so encourages you to use the engine's flexibility and probably help the M.P.G figures a bit too.

Citroen ZX 2.0 Turbo Diesel Engine

Ride & Handling

Despite the soft suspension, the car handles quite smartly, the upside of such soft suspension is an exemplary ride. It's very, very smooth indeed and does a good job of shrugging off the disgraceful state of our roads. It's not quite a Xantia though and of course doesn't self-level. I do have some reservations about how such a system would handle large heavy loads that the estate body-style may encourage. The steering is just a tad on the heavy side and slightly rubbery, but sharp for the first half of a turn when it appears to go heavier and require more effort. I suppose this is meant to discourage you from using the car in a custom it wasn't really designed for, but it's irritating when you want to press on around the bends.


Unsuprisingly for a French car, the pedals are the bugbear once again. Not this time for the spacing, as on this car they seem reasonably well spaced for a change. The clutch is a rather wooden feeling and heavy device, and the throttle on the test example had a somewhat stiff total movement of around one and a half inches - much too short a travel for the insensitive such as my self. The result of these two pedals was errant wheel spin in the wet and difficulty in holding a steady speed when cruising.

Who would buy one

Well my pensioner parents rather liked it, especially the ride and I suspect anyone who just wants competent practical transport, and has a dislike of Vauxhalls and Fords may quite like it. At least the engine is much more refined than these two so the idea may be justified in some people's minds. But I'm afraid I'd take an Escort or even better an Astra in preference.

The Citroen ZX - an anonymous car that does the job perfectly well. A French car totally without gallic flair.

P.S.  The rather disgusting shade of dark maroon cum yeuk brown should be avoided at all costs.

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For Citroen ZX data and specs for the entire range 1995 from click here