Blog: Misery loves company

There are two Xantia Activas on my drive…

Activa (1)

Finally, I’ve found some time to give my new £600 Citroen Xantia Activa the cosmetic attention it deserves. And the news is mixed, but not disastrous. The car, which I picked up a couple of weeks ago looked quite sorry for itself, having suffered from paint damage over the years – as they all do – and one well-intentioned rattle-can repair.

Being a Xantia, it’s one of those cars that looks much, much worse for being dirty (see image below to get what I mean). You know how some cars can get away with a coating of road grime, and get away with it? Well, this is most certainly not one of them – when a car like this looks dirty, not only does it suggest to other road users that I’m poor, but it also gives the impression that I’m also lazy. No comment on both.

But the lacquer peel on the tailgate, paint crazing on the bonnet, and the home-sprayed roof were cause for concern. So, I took a deep breath, and battled the inclement weather, to have a proper look, and start attacking the worst of the problems. The crazed bonnet is the most obvious issue, and given that the scores look quite deep, a respray of this panel is the only lasting solution.

But as it’s approaching Christmas, that was never going to happen. So I thought that given enough polish, we could at least disguise it. So, out came the machine polisher, and after three treatments, it’s certainly looking shinier. And at an angle, from 10 feet, you can’t see the marking anymore – thanks to the deep, lustrous reflections.

The rest of the car, I treated to a coat of Meguiar’s Tech Wax, so at least it’s superficially good all over. Trouble is that there’s huge amounts of overspray contamination from when the roof was rattle-canned, and the only way to rid the car of that is to clay bar it, and go to town. A job for when it gets warmer, methinks. Same with the roof – that’s going to need a full respray, but I might try that with the machine polisher, too, in order to see if there’s any life an consistency in the paint that’s on there.

We’ll see.

Of course, I’m enjoying the ride – the car’s handling and poise never fails to impress, as a quick run up the B660 to work yesterday confirmed. The (re)active suspension system truly is remarkable – I just wish the steering had some (any) feel. But despite this, and it’s all-round brilliance, the Activa still feels less than special as an overall package. Yes, it has handling to die for, but I still find tooling around in my Avantime far more satisfying.

Wonder what that says about me?

Activa (2)

Keith Adams

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