Citroën AX

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Citroën AX
Citroen AX front 20080320.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Citroën
Production 1986–1998 (2,425,138 units)
Assembly Rennes, France
Body and chassis
Class Supermini
Body style 3-door hatchback
5-door hatchback
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Powertrain
Engine 1.0 L I4 (petrol)
1.1 L I4 (petrol)
1.3 L I4 (petrol)
1.4 L I4 (petrol)
1.4 L I4 (diesel)
1.5 L I4 (diesel)
Transmission 4-speed manual
5-speed manual
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,280 mm (89.8 in)
Length 3,525 mm (138.8 in)
Width 1,555 mm (61.2 in)
Height 1,355 mm (53.3 in)
Curb weight 640–850 kg (1,411–1,874 lb)
Chronology
Predecessor Citroën LNA
Citroën Axel
Citroën Visa
Successor Citroën Saxo

The Citroën AX was a supermini built by the French manufacturer Citroën from 1986 to 1998. It was launched at the 1986 Paris Motor Show to replace the Citroën Visa and Citroën LNA.

Overview[edit]

Development of this model started in 1983, and was initially also going to form the basis of a sister model from Talbot to replace the Samba; however, the falling popularity of the Talbot brand had led to Peugeot deciding to axe it by the time the Citroën AX was launched, and so the Talbot version never made it into production.[1]

The car was available from its launch on 2 October 1986,[2] as a three-door hatchback with 1.0, 1.1 and 1.4-litre TU-series belt driven OHC engines. Shortly afterwards, a five-door model and a 1.4 diesel were introduced; the latter was later replaced by a 1.5-litre unit. It had fully independent suspension with unusually long wheel travel. It was initially backed by a memorable TV advertising campaign filmed in China, starring actress Janet Mas and an elderly gentleman, whose character was simply known as Mr Wong.

Citroën AX five-door

The car was very economical, largely because of excellent aerodynamics for its class of car (drag coefficient of 0.31) and a very light weight of 640 kg (1,411 lb) for the basic version. This was due to the extensive use of plastic panels in non-load bearing areas and varying the thicknesses of steel in the bodyshell to be the minimum needed to take required loads. It also optionally used self-coloured plastic bumpers. This technology came from the PSA Peugeot-Citroën / Renault / French government ECO 2000 project.[3] The production version was much more conservative than the original 'one box' design prototype, that was closer to the Eco 2000 styling after negative reactions in focus groups.[4] The 'one box' supermini eventually came to market with the early '90s Renault Twingo. In 1989 a naturally aspirated diesel AX, using the 1360 cc all aluminium alloy TUD engine, managed a figure of 2.7 litres per 100 kilometres (100 mpg-imp; 87 mpg-US), totalling over 1,000 miles (1,609 km) from Dover to Barcelona. This was the longest ever distance travelled on 10 imp gal (45.5 L; 12.0 US gal) of fuel and earned it a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most economical production car. Also available was a 4x4 variant,[5] but with limited success when compared to the rival Fiat Panda 4x4. This was not sold in the UK.

Citroën AX three-door
Interior of an early AX
Rear of pre-facelift AX
Interior of a later AX
Rear of facelifted model

The first performance version was the limited-run AX Sport from 1987, with a 1.3 engine and twin carburettors producing 95 bhp (71 kW; 96 PS), wearing iconic white steel wheels (5,5" x 14") which resembled those on its brother, the Peugeot 205 Rallye. The AX Sport used Solex ADDHE 40 carburettors until 1990 and was then replaced with Weber DCOM 40s, just like the 205 Rallye 1,3. The AX Sport had a shorter inlet manifold than the 205 Rallye, to save room in the smaller engine compartment. Later on the sport was lightly revised, available in other colours and with optional GT wheels. Later, the AX 14GT, with a single-carburettor 85 bhp (63 kW; 86 PS) 1.4 engine also found in the Peugeot 205 XS, was introduced. From 1991, this model utilised fuel injection to coincide with the revamp of the entire range and to coincide with tougher 1992 EU emission regulations that introduced exhaust catalytic converters.

Facelift[edit]

Late 1991 saw the range revised, with a heavily face lifted tailgate and interior being the most notable changes. The front turn signals were now clear, and the Citroën logo was moved to the center of the bonnet. The much maligned dashboard was replaced by a more conservative design. The following year saw the introduction of the most powerful AX variant, the 100 bhp (75 kW; 101 PS) GTi. The GT was sold alongside the GTi for a few months, but was eventually phased out. New models were also introduced, such as the Forte, Spree, Elation and Dimension.

In January 1995 the Citroën AX Echo was launched, with a top speed of 110 mph (180 km/h). Its closest competitor, the Peugeot 106 Ski, (that shared components with the AX), was outsold by the Echo.

The range was slimmed-down in 1996, following the introduction of the Saxo, with production of the AX ending in 1998 after a 12-year production run. A total of 2,425,138[6] AXs were produced.

The Peugeot 106 and Citroën Saxo were both developments of the AX. They followed the '90s trend for heavier, more solid and 'safer' feeling cars that continues today. The AX was designed for lightness, with a 'less is more' philosophy, but with more conventional styling than previous Citroëns.

Derivatives[edit]

In 1996, the EV3 engine (air engine) was mounted into a regular Citroën AX car by MDI.

Heuliez presented an estate version called the AX Evasion at the 1988 Mondial de l'Automobile.

The Citroën AX BB Cabrio was a small roadster derived from the AX (1988). In Portugal, Citroen dealership Benjamin Barral created an unofficial convertible version, called the BB Cabrio, originally powered by the twin-choke carb AX GT 1.4 L engine, but later available with any type of engine that equipped the 3 door AX. Considered very handsome, due to the lack of the usual roll bar that convertible normally require, these cars are now collector's items and command a heavy premium over the normal models they are based upon. This model was not sold in the UK.

At one stage, parent firm PSA Peugeot Citroën had planned to launch a Talbot Samba replacement as a version of the AX with a different grille and a Talbot badge, but this plan was cancelled, as the entire Talbot marque was axed on passenger cars by 1987 following several years of declining sales.

Malaysian car company Proton produced a version of the Citroën AX, the Proton Tiara, from 1996 to 2000.

Aixam Mega at one time built an AX derivative called Mega Club and Mega Ranch. It was somewhat inspired by the Méhari, with a plastic bodywork and an optional convertible version, with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. It was discontinued in 1998, after nearly 1,000 had been built. A competition version of the Mega Club with a tubeframe chassis raced in the Andros Trophy in the early 1990, but powered by Ford and Honda engines.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Citroen based Samba replacement". Rootes-Chrysler.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-08-01. 
  2. ^ "The mood of car firms in France on upswing". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 11 October 1986. Retrieved 2011-08-01. 
  3. ^ "ECO 2000 - Citroenet". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  4. ^ "Citroën S9 - AX prototypes - Citroënet". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  5. ^ Car: Citroen AX 4x4 at fullworld.eu
  6. ^ "History". Citroen AX .Net. 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2011-08-01. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Citroën AX at Wikimedia Commons