Citroen AX, the “little turning point” of the 1980s

It must be admitted, the French manufacturers have a very strong tradition in small cars and several models characterized by a long career: Citroen particularly. Suffice it to mention the 2CV, which with its over 40 years has established a record that is not easy to beat and capable of obscuring practically any other car. Still, it wasn’t the only one that lasted well beyond the normal life cycle of cars.

A place of honor in this also belongs to Citroen AX. When it was launched, in fact, this small car distantly related to the Peugeot 106 (which arrived several years later) had to replace much less long-lived cars such as the Visa and the LNA and give a modernization to the segment. Two goals successfully achieved.

Child of the wind

Behind the reasons for the good response of the AX there were probably the circumstances of its birth: at the beginning of the 1980s, in fact, the innovative Visa and LNAderived from the Peugeot 104, had already become obsolete, one in setting and the other in style (both with twin-cylinder engines), and needed a modern replacement, perhaps with less flair than the Visa, but able to please all customer groups and more efficient in consumption.

In those years, efficiency already rhymed with aerodynamics and in addition to designing new engines for the future AX, efforts were made to reduce air resistance and give her a bright and lively guide. To obtain the result and at the same time the best satisfaction from the public, it was preceded by a series of prototypes presented at various shows that progressively refined the line, almost definitive on the 1986 Xanthia concept.

Citroen AX 3 porte 1986

The production car presented that same year at the Paris Motor Show was a hatchback just over 3.5 meters, modeled with straight lines but not devoid of character and with an original rear spoiler integrated into the design of the tailgate and lights. Inside there were not all the flourishes of the Visa, no satellite controls but a simpler and more conventional instrumentation, with the only concession to the single-arm steering wheel.

As for the engines, it was decided to develop a family of 4 cylinders based on the Peugeot X series and arranged transversely, always with front-wheel drive. The range included a small 954 cc engine at the base and up, a 1.1 and 1.4, respectively 45, 55 and 65 hp, with 4 or 5-speed manual gearboxes and accompanied by front brakes and MacPherson suspension at the front.

Citroen AX Sport

Citroen AX Sport

The 5-door and the Sport

Brilliant but with low fuel consumption, also thanks to the low weight (starting from just 650 kg), the AX began its career with three petrol units and only 3-door bodywork but soon the offer was expanded with the 5-door variant. and the Sport with 95 HP 1.3 engine. First performance-oriented set-up, the AX Sport was basic, with white livery and rims, and a good one basis for competitions with its 186 km / h and 0-100 in 8.8 seconds.

Citroen AX 5 porte, 1989

Citroen AX 5 porte, 1989

The diesel and GT

A little less powerful than the Sport was the AX GTequipped with a 1.4 with 85 bhp and 180 km / h but a little less essential, already proposed in ’87 while in 1988 the first AX Diesel arrived, with a naturally aspirated 53 bhp 1.4 replaced only in ’94 by a 1.5 from 58 PS.

Citroen AX GT 3 Porte 1988

Citroen AX GT 3 Porte 1988

The restyling and the 4×4

The first aesthetic update was presented in the fall of 1991: it focused on the bumpers and lights, but also involved the front, with the Citroen logo moved from the left side to the center of the hood. This was accompanied by other changes and tweaks to the interior and a few more HP for the basic 1.4, brought up to 75 HP and equipped with electronic injection.

Citroen AX Exclusive 1992

Citroen AX Exclusive 1992

In 1992, this engine was proposed on the AX 4×4, an unprecedented all-wheel drive version that entered the 4-wheel drive subcompact niche with Autobianchi Y10 4×4 and Fiat Panda 4×4. On the other side of the range, the GT was joined by the more powerful GTiwith still 1.4 engine with 98 HP and 190 km / h, down to 95 and 186 in the catalyzed version.

Citroen AX GT 1987, plancia

Citroen AX GT 1987, plancia

Beside the heir

During the same year, all the other petrol engines also received electronic injection and definitively adopted the catalyst: the GT replaced its engine with the normal 75 bhp 1.4 and the model began to face the downward spiral which, however, was not rapid.

Sales of the petrol models continued until 1998, 2 years after the launch of its designated heir, the Saxo more modern in design and very similar to the Peugeot 106 although still based on the AX platform, which still had outstanding features in terms of modernity, efficiency and lightness. In total, the AX surpassed the 2 and a half million of built specimens.


Source: Motor1.com Italia – News by it.motor1.com.

*The article has been translated based on the content of Motor1.com Italia – News by it.motor1.com. If there is any problem regarding the content, copyright, please leave a report below the article. We will try to process as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the author. Thank you very much!

*We just want readers to access information more quickly and easily with other multilingual content, instead of information only available in a certain language.

*We always respect the copyright of the content of the author and always include the original link of the source article.If the author disagrees, just leave the report below the article, the article will be edited or deleted at the request of the author. Thanks very much! Best regards!