After a tiring but fun day of hanging out with friends, I’m back on my computer and ready to finish up this French Friday action! So, continuing where we left off this morning, the big three of France did indeed produce successors to each of their large executive five-seat berlines of the ‘70s and ‘80s despite largely subpar sales figures.
Whereas there was a pretty large age discrepancy between this morning’s saloons, both PSA and Renault seemed to come to a consensus in each respectively releasing a large berline in the early ‘90s.
Of the three, the XM was first to come out in May of 1989. Sleek, modern, stylish, and packed with features, it was a good sign for the new PSA ownership of the double-chevron marque. And indeed, it continued to be, despite a myriad of electrical gremlins in early models that tainted its reputation. Besides this reliability fault, however, the XM was very, very highly acclaimed by many journalists of its time and, for all intents and purposes, should have sold just as well as its predecessors, the famed DS line and the incredibly popular CX.
The 605 was released on the heels of the XM in late 1989 to little fanfare. It was a nice sedan, a bit derivative in the looks as Pininfarina had plagiarized its own Alfa 164 in designing it, but generally unremarkable. Same engines and chassis as the XM wrapped in a plain, plain package was the gist of it. When you consider that the XM’s engines and chasses were arguably the least revolutionary part of a very advanced car, it really becomes evident that this Pug was too little, too late. Quite telling of this was when Car Magazine of the UK did a ten large car comparison against Jag’s established XJ and the Citroen finished second, right behind the Jag while its cousin from Pug a lowly eighth, right behind the identical Alfa 164.
Absent from this ten-car comparison is Renault’s Safrane as it dropped relatively tardily in 1992. Despite resolving many of the 25's issues, the Safrane was only slightly more popular than the bland 605 as it wasn’t markedly more interesting, only slightly more affordable. However, the Biturbo model from 1994 was a twin-turbo AWD, stick shift monster from Hardge and Irmscher aimed directly at BMW’s M Series. Selling only 600 some units as most consumers went for the more well-established Germans, this bonkers Biturbo still remains in my dream garage as the ultimately luxurious and classy sleeper. For the commoners, the facelift of the Safrane also brought Volvo’s very good new Modular I-5 in what would be far from the last time the French and Swedish would share engines. Top tip: that’s probably the most interesting engine you’ll find in a Phase II Safrane but maybe not the most reliable one.
So, what of these big execs? Well, the XM was killed off in 2000 due to slacking sales, the 605 one year earlier in 1999, and the Safrane lasted until 2002, each one receiving one facelift throughout their approximately decade-long model runs. Final sales? 333K XMs, 254K 605s, and 310K Safranes. So, the Citroen still outsold the others as in the years of the CX and DS, but by nowhere near as large a margin as before. The age of the French luxobarge was coming to an end, and, with one more hurrah in the 2000's, it would die completely.
All models are 1:64 Majorettes except the Peugeot which is a 1:64 Novacar.