Citroën CX

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Citroën CX
Citroen CX Prestige long wheel base 2347cc March 1983.JPG
Overview
Manufacturer Citroën
Production 1974–1991
Assembly Aulnay-sous-Bois, France[1]
Arica, Chile
Vigo, Spain
Designer Robert Opron
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size luxury car / Executive car
Body style 4-door fastback
4-door fastback long wheelbase
4-door break (estate)
Layout FF layout
Powertrain
Engine 2.0L I4
2.2L I4
2.3L I4
2.4L I4
2.5L Diesel I4
Transmission 5-speed manual
4-speed manual
3-speed automatic
3-speed semi-automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,845 mm (112.0 in)[2]
Length 4,666 mm (183.7 in)[2]
Width 1,730 mm (68 in)[2]
Height 1,360 mm (54 in)[2]
Curb weight 1,265–1,520 kg (2,789–3,351 lb)
Chronology
Predecessor Citroën DS
Successor Citroën XM
Spacious rear seat of long wheelbase fastback

The Citroën CX is an automobile produced by the French automaker Citroën from 1974 to 1991. Citroën sold nearly 1.2 million CXs during its 16 years of production. The CX was voted European Car of the Year in 1975. The name CX is the French equivalent abbreviation of Cd for drag coefficient in English, drawing attention to the cars aerodynamic styling, which was uncommon in 1974.

It is considered by some enthusiasts as the last "real Citroën" before Peugeot took control of the company in 1976.[3][4]

Available models were a four-door fastback, a station wagon (break, or estate car), and a long-wheelbase model built on the break chassis. The CX employed Citroën's unique hydropneumatic self-leveling suspension system.

History[edit]

The CX was initially a huge success in Europe, more than 132,000 being produced in 1978. It found customers beyond the loyal Citroën DS customer base and brought the technology of the advanced, but somewhat impractical, Citroën SM to the masses. Unlike its principal competitors, the CX did not have worldwide distribution—the cost of development and improvements had to be met from a geographically small sales base.

Style[edit]

The CX's flowing lines and sharp Kamm tail were designed by auto stylist Robert Opron, drawing upon its precursor DS. Mechanically, the car was one of the most modern of its time, combining Citroën's unique hydro-pneumatic integral self-leveling suspension, speed-adjustable DIRAVI power steering (first introduced on the Citroën SM), and a unique interior design that did away with steering column stalks, allowing the driver to reach all controls with his or her hands on the steering wheel. The suspension was attached to sub frames that were fitted to the body through flexible mountings, to improve even more the ride quality and to reduce road noise. The British magazine Car described the sensation of driving a CX as hovering over road irregularities, much like a ship traversing above the ocean floor. This suspension was used under license by Rolls-Royce on the Silver Shadow and its derivatives, and the Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9.

The CX was a transverse engine design, in contrast to the longitudinal mid-engine layout of the Traction Avant and DS. This saved space; the CX was 8 in (20 cm) shorter than the DS. The CX fastback had insufficient rear legroom to function as a chauffeur driven limousine (a common use for the spacious DS model), so in 1976, Citroën introduced a 10 in (25 cm) longer version, the "Prestige" variant, which used the wheelbase of the longer Safari/Familiale estate. The Prestige offered more rear legroom than any other standard-sized sedan in the world. In 1977, it also gained a raised roofline to improve comfort further. Contemporary reviews of the Prestige were favourable. In 1976 the UK's Driver and Motorist praised its comfort and interior fitments.[5]

Launch[edit]

At launch in 1974, the CX was rushed to market, but with some teething troubles. Some very early models did not have power steering and proved difficult to drive.

Originally, the CX was developed as a rotary-engined car—with several consequences. The CX engine bay is small because rotary engines are compact, but the Comotor three-rotor rotary engine was not economical and the entire rotary project was scrapped the year the CX was introduced, The production version was left powered by the same modest inline 4 cylinder engine found in the DS. At launch there was a choice between three differently powered versions.[6] The "Normale" CX car came with a 1985cc version of the four cylinder engine from the predecessor model with a claimed maximum output of 102 hp (76 kW), which was slightly more than had been available from the engine when fitted in the DS.[6] The "Economique" version of the car (reflecting the continuing impact of the 1973 oil price shock) came with the same engine as the "Normale", but the gear ratios were changed, along with the final drive ratio, giving rise to a 7 km/h (4 mph) reduction in top speed in return for usefully improved fuel economy.[6] More performance came from the "CX 2200", fitted with a 2175 cc version of the engine and a twin carburetor, resulting in a claimed maximum output of 112 hp (84 kW).[6]

Contemporary reports also indicated that the cost of setting up a new production facility for the CX, on the northern edge of the Paris conurbation, at Aulnay-sous-Bois, played a central part in undermining the company's finances to the point where it was obliged to surrender its independence to the more financially cautious Peugeot company.[7] On 12 July 2012, PSA announced that it is permanently closing the Aulnay-sous-Bois plant.[8]

Slow development[edit]

The CX was very slowly developed and improved, the key elements it needed to compete successfully in its market segment taking many years to emerge.

The parent company, PSA Peugeot Citroën, was fielding three cars in the executive car segment, the slow selling Peugeot 604, the abortive Talbot Tagora and the CX, all competing for PSA's scarce financial resources. Developing and exploiting the CX design was not the top priority. The seeds of PSA's competitive retreat from this traditionally important segment were sown during this period of diffused efforts.[9]

In 1974, the DS featured a relatively powerful 141 hp (105 kW) fuel-injected 2.3-litre engine, but the CX was only available with 2.0 and 2.2 carburettor engines.

In 1977, the CX GTi received a modern L-jetronic injection system, with 128 hp (95 kW).

In 1981, factory rustproofing and a fully automatic transmission were added.[10]

The CX eventually acquired a reputation for high running costs, which over time cut sales.[citation needed] Ironically, it was the components standard to any automobile (steel, door hinges, starter motors, electrical connections, etc.) that proved troublesome in service, not the advanced components.[11] The quality of construction improved too slowly to eliminate this perception.[citation needed]

The 1983 turbo-powered 2.5 L diesel engine did make the CX Turbo-D 2.5 the fastest diesel sedan in the world,[citation needed] able to reach speeds up to 195 km/h (121 mph). (Diesels account for more than half the market for executive cars in France.)[citation needed]

Finally, in 1984, the GTi Turbo gasoline model, with a top speed of over 220 km/h (137 mph), gave the CX the powerful engine that finally used the full capabilities of the chassis.[citation needed] Unfortunately fuel economy was poor, and only improved slightly with the 1986 Turbo 2 model.[citation needed]

Although the minor 1985 Series 2 changes did create initial interest from press and public alike,[citation needed] they did little to revive sales, with 35,000 units being produced in 1986 and 1987.

While the revolutionary and timeless DS achieved its greatest sales success at the same point in its 20-year lifecycle,[12] the CX design was subject to more intense competitive pressures from other automakers, who succeeded in using the CX design as a template for improvement. In particular, the Audi 100 introduced an aerodynamically restyled variant in 1983.

Common parts from the CX were used in other more exclusive cars. For instance, the rear view mirrors of the "Series 2" CX were found on many – mostly British – sports cars, like the Lotus Esprit, the Jaguar XJ220, the TVR Chimera and the (French) MVS Venturi.[13]

Replacing the CX[edit]

Successful competitors in this market segment have adopted a cycle of redesign and substantial improvement every seven years. Despite the success of the CX design (and the company's unbroken legacy of dominance in this segment stretching back to 1934)[14] there was no new and improved "big Citroën" model on the horizon by 1981. CX sales began to slide and never recovered.

Citroën tried to operate independently and design a CX replacement that updated the flowing CX design (in 1980 and again in 1986). Each time, the parent company PSA Peugeot Citroën killed the project and fired the Citroën designers responsible.[15]

Citroën did incur the expense of designing an entirely new gasoline 4-cylinder engine in 1984 for the top-of-range cars—this allowed the CX to go slightly faster at the cost of slightly worse fuel economy.[citation needed] The market demanded either inline-six or V6 engines.[citation needed]

The CX was finally replaced by the XM in 1989. This vehicle was based on the same chassis as the Peugeot 605. It was styled in a distinctive, angular fashion, and fitted with self-levelling hydropneumatic suspension, and featured new electronic controls and branded Hydractive suspension. It also featured a hatchback and a conventional interior rather than the "spaceship" instrument panel of the CX. The XM was clearly related to the BX in layout and construction, but incorporated little design and technology from the CX.

The XM at first achieved annual sales similar to the modest totals of the CX in the last decade of its life, before a total collapse in demand set in around 1994–1995. It was retired without replacement in 2000. Total sales were 333,000 units, less than a third of CX sales, but twice those of the Peugeot 604.

The 2006 Citroën C6, first announced as the C6 Lignage concept car in 1999, appears to be the direct descendant of the CX. The design of the Citroën flagship is directly inspired by the personality of the CX. Total sales were about 20,000 units, similar to the Talbot Tagora.

Design variations[edit]

"Spaceship" dashboard with rotating drum speedometer in Series 1 CX models (1974–85)

The Break estate ("Safari" in the United Kingdom), produced from 1975 until 1991 was joined by the seven-seat Familiale, both, with increased load capacity (baggage; equipment; passengers), taking full advantage of the CX's self-levelling suspension.

Both petrol and diesel-powered models were available in various engine sizes including turbocharged versions. The top-end sports model, alongside the CX Prestige luxury model, was the CX 25 GTi Turbo, launched in autumn 1984, rated at 168 hp (122 kW) and a top speed of 220 km/h (137 mph).

Manual, semi-automatic ("C-Matic") and, ultimately, fully automatic transmissions were fitted, the fully automatic ZF transmission replacing the C-Matic in 1980. Luxury trim-level models were badged as Pallas, and sports variants as GTi. The long-wheelbase models were badged as Prestige (petrol engine) or Limousine (diesel). The factory never produced the CX with both the powerful turbocharged petrol engine and automatic transmission in one car.

The Series 1 vehicles (1974–85) were characterised by stainless steel front and rear bumpers, hydropneumatic suspension as compliant and soft as the DS, a "spaceship" style dashboard featuring a revolving drum speedometer and similar tachometer, and a "stalk-free" layout where turn signals, wiper controls, horn and headlights could be operated by the driver's fingertips while his/her hands remained on the steering wheel.

In July 1985, the styling was revised, resulting in a model known as the Series 2. The cars lost some of their earlier distinctiveness. The suspension became stiffer in most models. Plastic bumpers were the most notable exterior change, giving what some say is a more aggressive look, as opposed to the more elegant Series 1 design. Although the dashboard retained the "pod" housing for the instrumentation, it lost the revolving-drum instruments and received a sloping centre dash area, and the radio moved to a position sideways and between the front seats, with the height corrector and heating controls moving to the centre console.

A Citroën design principle was that turning signals should not cancel themselves – this should be a conscious decision of the driver. The CX perpetuated this feature, which is not shared by virtually any other contemporary automobile, limiting the CX's potential use as a rental car.

Six-wheeled Citroën CX Loadrunner Bagagère

The CX was frequently used as an ambulance and camera car, applications where the cosseting suspension was especially valuable. A number of CX estates were elongated and retrofitted with a second rear axle, mostly used for high speed bulk transport such as carrying newspapers across Europe. They are known as the "loadrunner" variant. Most of them were prepared by the French company Tissier.

The last CX was the venerable Safari Estate, to this day one of the largest, and because of its suspension, most practical, family cars available in Europe. The Safari was very popular with speedway riders and other motorcycle racers, as the capacious design meant a bike could easily fit in the back.

The most collectible CX models are the very rare Series 1 GTi Turbo, and the Series 2 Prestige Turbo.

1,170,645 CXs were sold from 1974 to 1991.

International sales and production[edit]

The CX was popular in most European nations, and also sold in some Asian and Latin American countries.

In 1984, Citroën sold 2,500 CXs to China and nearly succeeded in getting the "large car" contract that would have made the CX the most common vehicle in the People's Republic. The Chinese government decided to award this contract to Volkswagen, and instead gave Citroën the rights to the "compact car" segment, with what today is known as the Dongfeng Peugeot-Citroën Automobile factory, producing over 100,000 cars a year.

The CX was assembled in South America from 1978–1984 starting with the CX 2000 Super in Citroën's facility of Arica, Chile. The car achieved good sales numbers despite being at the time one of the most complex cars built in the Americas.

In Greece, the only model imported was the 2.5 liter Prestige, which had a relatively large engine and was therefore taxed heavily, the result of which was poor sales.

CX in North America[edit]

The CX was never sold in North American markets by PSA Peugeot Citroën, but Americans were still able to obtain the car by other means.

S1 Citroën CX in New York City, March 2012

In 1974, the final nail in the coffin of Citroën selling autos in North America was delivered—the decision by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to prohibit passenger vehicles with height-adjustable suspension. Citroën actually built 1974-model-year cars for the U.S., but was barred from selling them.[16] For many years, Citroën had been running into issues where U.S. design legislation fixed older technologies in place, and prohibited certain engineering innovations "not invented here", including items in many automobile designs today, like mineral oil brake fluid, aerodynamic headlights, and directional headlights. The wisdom of these regulations has since been reconsidered and most have been repealed in the light of developing technology.

Since the height-adjustable suspension was an integral feature of the CX design, there was no way to engineer around it. Even financially powerful Mercedes-Benz had to remove the height adjustment switch from its flagship 6.9 while retaining the hydropneumatic suspension in the U.S.

A few CXs came to North America under unclear circumstances (some related to diplomatic immunity) during the 1970s, but the situation was eased when U.S. Government repealed the ban on height-adjustable suspension in 1981. As with any other grey market car, the CX could be imported and brought into compliance with the unique design regulations applied by the U.S.

In addition to personal imports, several companies began converting and selling CXs to Americans. These were not "grey market" cars, but officially imported vehicles remanufactured and type approved for the U.S. The importing companies suffered legal harassment from PSA Peugeot Citroën, but despite this, and with no advertising and only a minimal service network, the powerful cult brand of Citroën still managed to sell about 1,000 cars at approximately double the price of the same vehicle imported conventionally.

Today the U.S. Government exempts cars older than 25 years from all design legislation, so most CXs can be freely imported. The Canadian government applies a similar rule after 15 years.

Notable uses[edit]

1984 stretched limousine originally used by East German head of state Erich Honecker

The CX Prestige model was used by the French government, including former president Jacques Chirac. It was the official car of DDR head of state Erich Honecker, who ordered several extended versions for official use.

A Series 1 CX Saloon features in the 1980 film Private Benjamin, starring Goldie Hawn.

A Series 1 CX Saloon features in the Australian film Tim starring Mel Gibson, it was owned and driven by Piper Laurie's character.

A Series 1 CX Safari features in the 1980s ITV (UK) children's Sci Fi drama Chocky.

Harald V, King of Norway, had a CX in the 70s. The Norwegian government used it in the 80s, as did Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, had a special Landaulet created by Henri Chapron for his 1981 wedding.

The singer Grace Jones sported a haircut shaped like a CX in a prominent series of advertisements for the GTi Turbo in 1985, and included the CX prominently in her 1985 music video "Slave to the Rhythm".

The character Jasper Palmer, played by Michael Caine in the movie Children of Men, drove a vehicle based on a CX Safari. This fitted in with the director's vision of vehicles being futuristic designs based on familiar cars but with an unfamiliar disguise. Similar avant garde vehicles such as the Fiat Multipla and Renault Avantime were also used.

During the Summer 2010 season, popular BBC motoring show Top Gear hosted a challenge to its presenters to build a caravan out of an ordinary vehicle, whereupon Jeremy Clarkson built a three-storey house out of a 1988 Citroën CX Break.[17]

Timeline[edit]

  • 1974: 28 August: Introduction of the 2000 and 2200 fastbacks, with engines inherited from the Citroën DS – positioned between the bottom of range DSuper and the exclusive DS 23 Pallas
  • 1975: CX voted 'Car of the Year' by 49 journalists from 14 European countries. July: Introduction of the long-wheelbase saloon, the CX Prestige October: Introduction of the Estate version .
  • 1976: January: Introduction of the 2200 Diesel saloon and estate. Semi-automatic "C-Matic" transmission introduced as an option. July: Introduction of CX 2400 Carburettor model. September: Introduction of the CX Ambulance. October: Introduction of the CX Familiale Estate, a 7-seater version. December: The President of France receives a CX with electronic fuel injection, 5-speed gearbox and a raised roof.
  • 1977: May: Introduction of the 2400 GTi with fuel injection and the larger motor from the DS 23. July: The CX Prestige receives a raised roofline and fuel injection as well as a 5-speed gearbox. All CX 2400 models are given the optional extra of a 5-speed gearbox. December: Introduction of the CX 2400 Pallas Injection with semi-automatic, C-Matic transmission and vari-power steering as standard.
  • 1978: January: Introduction of the CX 2500 Diesel model. July: CX 2500 Diesel saloons and estates have the option of a 5-speed gearbox.
  • 1979: July: Introduction of the bottom of range 2000 Reflex and 2000 Athena Saloons, as replacements for the previous 2000 Super and 2000 Confort Saloons. Reflex and Athena have new 1995cc engine from the Renault 20 TS, with 4-speed gearbox on Reflex, and 5-speed gearbox on Athena. November: Introduction of the CX 2500 Diesel Limousine, which combines the CX Prestige bodywork and the engine and transmission of the CX 2500 Diesels.
  • 1980: July: The CX 2400 engine receives a horsepower and torque performance increase. 5-speed gearboxes are standard fitting on the Athena and CX Diesel, Super and Pallas. New gearbox ratios for the CX Estate, GTi and Prestige. Rear aerodynamic spoiler fitted to the CX GTi. September: CX Pallas models (both carburettor and injection) can be fitted with the new ZF automatic transmission as an option.
  • 1981: Introduction of the 2000 Reflex Safari, 2000 Reflex Familiale, 2400 Reflex Safari and 2400 Reflex Familiale Estates. July: Cruise control offered as option on the CX Pallas (5-speed manual and automatic), CX Prestige automatic and CX GTi. New enlarged front wheel arches are introduction throughout the range, to allow for the fitment of Michelin TRX tyres. Michelin TRX tyres are standard to the CX GTi and optional to the fuel injected Pallas and Prestige models.
  • 1984: March: Introduction of the CX Entreprise models, the CX 20 Entreprise and the CX 25D Entreprise, having only front seats fitted and the rear lined for carrying loads and targeted towards businesses. April: The limited edition CX 20 Leader is launched. 700 examples are produced and the model has the same technical characteristics to the 5-speed CX 20. October: The CX 25 GTi Turbo is introduced — the first genuinely fast CX model
  • 1985: March: ABS braking becomes optional to the CX 25 GTi Turbo. July: Introduction of the S2 (Series 2) CX, restyled in appearance. Plastic bumpers, new mirrors and protective body strips are among the most obvious changes from the outside.
  • 1986: Introduction of the 25 GTi Turbo 2, with new intercooler and improved performance
  • 1989: CX production at the Aulnay-sous-Bois factory ceased. All saloon models discontinued. Heuliez, famous French coachbuilders, were given the contract for continuing to produce CX estate models. Introduction of the re-badged 25 TGI Familiale estate, formally the TRI.
  • 1990: Introduction of the 22 TGE Safari, 25 TGI Safari, and 25 TGD Safari Turbo Diesel estates.
  • 1991: Last estate models discontinued.

Engine types[edit]

  • 2.0 L (1965 cc) I4
  • 2.0 L (1995 cc) Douvrin I4
  • 2.2 L (2165 cc) Douvrin I4
  • 2.2 L (2175 cc) I4
  • 2.4 L (2347 cc) carburetted I4
  • 2.4 L (2347 cc) fuel-injected I4
  • 2.5 L (2499 cc) fuel-injected I4
  • 2.5 L (2499 cc) fuel-injected I4 with turbocharger
  • 2.5 L (2499 cc) fuel-injected I4 with turbocharger and intercooler
  • 2.2 L (2200 cc) diesel I4
  • 2.5 L (2500 cc) diesel I4 75 bhp (56 kW)
  • 2.5 L (2500 cc) diesel I4 with turbocharger 95 bhp (71 kW)
  • 2.5 L (2500 cc) diesel I4 with turbocharger and intercooler 120 bhp (89 kW)
1970s Series 1 Citroën CX 
Series 1 Citroën CX – Turbo Diesel from 1985 
1986 Citroën CX 25 GTI Automatic (The Netherlands) 
Citroën CX Series 2 Familiale (7-seater Station wagon) from 1990 

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Citroën GS: Citroen build with care (Anglophone brochure for UK market which also mentions new plant built for Citroen CX). Slough: Citroen Cars Ltd (UK). August 1976. . 
  2. ^ a b c d "Fahrbericht: Citroen CX 2400 GTi". Auto, Motor und Sport. Heft 12 1977: Pages 82–89. 8 June 1977. 
  3. ^ "1988 Citroen CX 22 TRS". Just A Car Geek. 15 January 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2012. 
  4. ^ International integration, market structure, and prices Af Yves Bourdet, page 108
  5. ^ "1976 Citroen CX Prestige Review | CAR Magazine Online". Carmagazine.co.uk. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Dossier Complet de la Citroen CX". L'Auto-Journal: Le Salon de l'auto 1974. Numero Special: Pages 32–33. September 1974. 
  7. ^ "Citroën's CX factory: It may have been too great an investment for Citroën alone, but its importance for the French motor industry of the future could be tremendous.". Autocar. 144 (nbr 4146): pages 25–26 43. 24 April 1976. 
  8. ^ Wall Street Journal 13 July 2012
  9. ^ Wall Street Journal "French Begin New Luxury Car Drive" Page B3, 2 October 2012
  10. ^ Car Magazine March 1980
  11. ^ Car Magazine Long Term Test CX Familiale, August 1978
  12. ^ "Original Citroen DS" by John Reynolds ISBN 978-0-7603-2901-6, page 135
  13. ^ Glen Waddington (15 March 2003). "The icon and the upstart". www.lotusespritworld.com. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  14. ^ Classic & Sports Car, July 2010 pp 144–151
  15. ^ Julian Marsh (10 June 2000). "Citroën Projet E prototype". Citroenet.org.uk. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  16. ^ Motor Trend, February 1974
  17. ^ "Embarrassing Couple Spots Top Gear Filming, Freak Out". Jalopnik.com. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 

External links[edit]