Citroen XM v Mercedes CLS63 AMG S
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Thread: Citroen XM v Mercedes CLS63 AMG S

  1. #1
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    Default Citroen XM v Mercedes CLS63 AMG S

    After being offered the opportunity to sample an extensive drive of a 2015 Mercedes Benz CLS63 AMG S on the weekend, the experience (which was noteworthy) led me to reflect on other vehicles I've familarised myself with in the past, in an effort to find one suitable for comparison.

    Having driven numerous Citroen XM in a variety of circumstances in the early 2000's, they consistently left an impression with me as a halo car designed to push the boundaries of engineering excellence, individuality and broadly speaking, motoring supremacy, second possibly only to its PSA sister, the Peugeot 605 (of which I've owned 3).

    Similarly this weekend, the CLS AMG blew me away in terms of its no-fuss delivery of incredible performance, easily accessible by the average driver. This car stood out by performing in vastly superior fashion to my other recent German drives, in the likes of E63 AMG, M3 and S-Class.

    My bringing this comparison to the fore may seem objectionable to some, due to the generational disadvantage of the XM, however, I personally am of the view that such comparisons are interesting and relevant, particularly when assessed within context. I.e. both these cars, in their respective times, are at the pointy end of their brand's offering. Designed to impress, satisfy and create deep seated envy in those that can only dream.

    Design:
    The XM's striking, yet by Citroen standards conservative styling, has proven to be timeless. A standout visual succes at the time, both inside and out, and impressive even today. The XM still expresses a strong sense of French sophistication in a restrained, formal package.

    The CLS on the other hand is exceedingly modern with undertones of aggressiveness in its external projection. Where the XM would visually articulate the owner's demeanor as someone who will give way with a smile, knowning they have the power, the CLS expression leaves no doubt that it is boss and will leave everyone in its dust... even when it isn't moving. It's an exceptionally pleasing visual package inside and out. Maybe for all the wrong reasons, but will result in a big grin on even the most reserved of personalities.

    Both cars follow the theme of soft black ceilings and ample plush interior detailing, however, the CLS shows its contemporary advantage and rewards its owner with incredible luxury, following the payment of a very high price, in today's terms, comparatively higher than the XM ever was.

    On the Road:
    First impressions of the XM, when still relatively new, were of a car that excelled in the comfort department. An exceptionally compliant ride at all times, light and precise steering and ample performance, particularly at speed. Certainly not to be bettered by many cars, regardless of how many decades of development occur. That said, despite reasonably modest driving, I managed to lose control of the front end of an XM through a fast roundabout due to an erratic automatic gearbox gearchange. Most frightening.

    The CLS surprised in the comfort department. Expecting such a low-slung sports-oriented vehicle to be harsh, the contrary was true. Comfort appeared not to be compromised. Body control was flat. In "comfort mode" I'd hesitate to say the XM may not have an advantage. Handling and steering precision, in comfort mode, leaves one wanting for no more. In the most extreme settings (for track use) the setup becomes a little harsh, but I don't think anyone would ever have a need for those settings on the legal side of 200km/h.

    The steering was phenomenally precise. The car was incredibly easy to throw through challenging obstacles was absolute accuracy like I wouldn't dare with the M3 I'm used to driving. The smoothness and accuracy of the gearbox is phenominal. The CLS leaves wanting for nothing in terms of ride and handling.

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    Obviously the power advantage of the CLS63 AMG S leaves a devastating blow on the ego of the XM (and pretty much every other car out there). 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds feels substantially quicker than many of the other sub 5 second cars I've driven. The available performance is beyond what should be legal and how rapidly the speed builds shouldn't be in the hands of even most above average drivers. It's just way too much, too quickly. Particularly in a 50km/h zone with the accelerator mashed into the carpet for about 7 seconds.

    Where the CLS's power is delivered with very audible exhaust notes, the XM can deliver its full potential with barely a hint of ostentation. The CLS can be regarded as offensive by the general public forced to endure the reality of the vehicle's operational presence. The XM glides past in near silence. These are two different ways in achieving a goal. I feel it is not appropriate to be judgemental on either.

    I've never had to wipe off triple digit speeds in a hurry in an XM (fortunately), although with the CLS it was frequently necessary just to bring the beast back to somewhere within 30km/h of the speed limit. Every subtle jab of the accelerator means immediate action on the brakes. Needless to say, they are incredibly powerful.

    Where the XM provides supportive seats with side bolsters for quick cornering. The CLS seats inflate left and right depending on your direction of travel. I never thought I needed that, but once experienced, I'm not sure I can now live without.

    Conclusion:

    Although both exemplary cars in their own right and for their time, the CLS has a slight edge in terms of outright performance, directional stability and steering precision. Both are probably on par for ride comfort. The XM edges ahead in terms of timeless design (which is well proven by now) and individuality. However, the enormous amounts of modern computing power that assist the handling, technology and comfort of the CLS make it an irresistable proposition.

    Both in one's garage would be a very pleasant way to make one's way through life.
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    Cheers,
    Patrick
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    It's a shame that finding any XM in Australia for sale, let alone one in decent condition, is a very difficult task. It's probably time to give up and just get a late model C5 or C6?
    The XMs powered armrest, dash, left hand indicator switch are my favourites as is the side profile. It's a shame we don't have the same number here to consider like you'd find in say the UK.

    Agreed Patrick a mint XM Series 1 or 2 would be a nice car to have!

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    I bet they have all the return hose disasters (like their little sister Xantia) waiting to happen and no octopuses in stock anywhere to half solve the problem. I'd love one but would never get one knowing the trouble it is about to cause! sob.

    At least with a D you can get to eveything without a hundred plastic things cracking and snapping before your very eyes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by forumnoreason View Post
    I bet they have all the return hose disasters (like their little sister Xantia) waiting to happen and no octopuses in stock anywhere to half solve the problem. I'd love one but would never get one knowing the trouble it is about to cause! sob.

    At least with a D you can get to eveything without a hundred plastic things cracking and snapping before your very eyes.
    I'm not sure the plastic fantastics are good keepers.....

    Thanks for a very interesting comparison.
    JohnW

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    Perhaps a better comparison would have been with an S.M. just a thought.

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    May I suggest PJ810, that despite every good intention, the constabulary would soon deprive you of it's pleasures far sooner than the XM ?

    Richard

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    May I quote the legendary Joe Walsh, from "Life's been good":

    My Maserati does one-eighty five
    I lost my licence, now I don't drive

    Roger
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    Quote Originally Posted by J'aime la vie View Post
    It's a shame that finding any XM in Australia for sale, let alone one in decent condition, is a very difficult task. It's probably time to give up and just get a late model C5 or C6?
    The XMs powered armrest, dash, left hand indicator switch are my favourites as is the side profile. It's a shame we don't have the same number here to consider like you'd find in say the UK.

    Agreed Patrick a mint XM Series 1 or 2 would be a nice car to have!
    I have an XM you can buy that’s reasonably well sorted if you’re looking.

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    JBN
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    I have a licence with virtually no points left if you are an under achiever. In my next life I am going to get a car slower than a 2CV.

    John
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    .. and fly a plane that can suffer a birdstrike from behind!

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBN View Post
    I have a licence with virtually no points left if you are an under achiever. In my next life I am going to get a car slower than a 2CV.

    John
    Just disconnect a plug lead;simple.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PJ810 View Post

    ...
    On the Road:
    First impressions of the XM, when still relatively new, were of a car that excelled in the comfort department. An exceptionally compliant ride at all times, light and precise steering and ample performance, particularly at speed. Certainly not to be bettered by many cars, regardless of how many decades of development occur. That said, despite reasonably modest driving, I managed to lose control of the front end of an XM through a fast roundabout due to an erratic automatic gearbox gearchange. Most frightening.
    ...
    Not sure if you are monitoring this thread Patrick, but I think I know what you are talking about.

    I have had a 605 for 10 years. It's just a bog standard Series II, with 12-valve V6 PRV motor and a ZF 4HP18 transmission. Knowing that the XM shared this drivetrain, I found it surprising when you told this story earlier, because the 605 doesn't behave like this (also your experience I believe).

    I now own an XM as well as the 605, but it doesn't have the PRV/4HP18 drivertrain - it has the later ES9J4 motor, with a 4HP20 transmission, with Sport and Snow buttons. This transmission is supposedly adaptable, and adjusts to your driving style. This morning I was just trying to accelerate smoothly around suburban Armidale, and it kept jumping back possibly 2 gears and leaping forward. I was not pushing the pedal to the metal, just squeezing it gently. After it did this several times, I pressed the Snow button, which calmed it down.

    I think you must have been driving one of these late-model (1998-2000) XMs. No doubt the 4HP20 is a very clever box of tricks (unlike the 4HP18, it does have electronics), but I'm finding it a bit unpredictable, and most certainly capable of the behaviour you describe. The ES9J4 motor is also significantly more powerful than the old PRV, making the sudden acceleration all the more dramatic!

    Cheers

    Alec
    Last edited by Armidillo; 7th March 2019 at 01:21 AM.

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