Citroën Visa

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Citroën Visa
Visa Leader diesel.jpg
Also calledWuling LZW 7100/ Wuling Visa (PRC)[1]
1991–1994 (China)
AssemblyFrance: Rennes (PSA Rennes Plant)
Spain: Vigo (PSA Vigo Plant)
Portugal : Mangualde (PSA Mangualde Plant)
Belgium: Forest
Yugoslavia: Koper (Cimos)[2]
Body and chassis
ClassSupermini (B)
Body style5-door hatchback
4-door cabriolet
LayoutFF layout
F4 layout
RelatedCitroën C15
Karenjy Visa (RM)[3]
Citroën Axel / Oltcit Club
Engine652 cc flat-2
954 cc I4
1,124 cc I4
1,219 cc I4
1,360 cc I4
1,580 cc I4
1,769 cc diesel I4
Wheelbase2,436 mm (95.9 in)
Length3,690 mm (145.3 in)
Width1,530 mm (60.2 in)
Height1,410 mm (55.5 in)
Curb weight870 kg (1,918 lb)
PredecessorCitroën Ami
Citroën Dyane
SuccessorCitroën AX

The Citroën Visa is a five-door, front-engine, front wheel drive supermini manufactured and marketed by Citroën from 1978 to 1988 in gasoline and diesel variants. 1,254,390 examples were ultimately manufactured over a single generation, with a single facelift (1981). China has also assembled the car as the Liuzhou Wuling LZW 7100 minicar. Production started in 1991 and finished in 1994.

Citroën commissioned Heuliez to produce a Visa convertible variant, marketed as the Décapotable (1984), and a box van variant (1985–2005) was marketed as the Citroën C15. A sedan variant was prototyped but never manufactured.


Citroën Visa MkI
Mk1 rear view
Citroën Visa Spécial Mk2
Mk2 rear view
Citroën Visa Cabriolet - side profile
Citroën Visa 'Leader' special edition 1.7l Diesel

In 1965 Robert Opron began working on the Citroën G-mini prototype and project EN101, a replacement for the 2CV using its flat twin engine and intended to launch in 1970. The advanced space efficient designs with compact exterior dimensions and an aerodynamic drag co-efficient Cd of 0.32, were never fully developed because of negative feedback from potential clients.[4]

A subsequent program, the Citroën Prototype Y, was developed in the early 1970s in co-operation with Fiat, to replace the 2CV-based Citroën Ami — using lessons from the Citroën G-mini and EN101 projects. Prototype Y used the Fiat 127 platform with the pioneering transverse front-engine, front wheel drive layout Fiat had test-marketed in the Autobianchi Primula.

When cooperation with Fiat ended, Citroën designed its own platform, and subsequent to the takeover of Citroën by Peugeot in the wake of the 1974 oil crisis, the renamed "Projet VD (Voiture Diminuée)" became the Citroën Visa, incorporating the floor pan of the Peugeot 104 and using the 104 engine, transmission (under the engine) and chassis.[5] The Visa thus became the first model under PSA Peugeot Citroën's platform-sharing policy.

In 1984, the original Citroën platform design from "Project Y" emerged as the Romanian Oltcit Club, using a Citroën Visa flat-twin engine and Citroën GS-based gearbox or the GS flat-four engine and gearbox. This was also marketed in Western Europe as the flat-four (only) Citroën Axel to recoup Citroën's Romanian investment, which the Romanian government could not repay. The resulting vehicle exhibited build quality issues, with 60,184 cars ultimately manufactured.

Model history and design[edit]

From its launch in September 1978,[6] the front-wheel drive Visa was available in "Spécial" and "Club" models with a mapped electronic ignition[7] (652 cc, 2-cylinder), and a "Super E" model (the 11RE after 1984), with the advanced Peugeot 1124  cc Douvrin engine / PSA X engine, a four-cylinder "Suitcase engine" — all aluminium alloy, chain driven overhead cam, with gearbox in the sump, sharing engine oil, mounted almost on its side.[7] The 1124 cc was as economical as the Citroën 2CV-derived twin, but with much better performance. The flat-twin engine was mounted longitudinally; the four-cylinder engines were installed transversally.[8] Later on it had 1219 cc (Super X) and then 954 cc (10E after 1984) and 1360 cc (1983 Visa GT and 14TRS after 1985) versions of the same engine. The original Visa's engines, while of Peugeot origins, were modified by Citroën's engineers with the aim of increasing fuel economy and responsiveness. The results were very limited and by the time of the introduction of the 1.4-liter models the engines were taken over wholesale from Peugeot without modifications.[8]

The Visa featured a soft but well-damped, long-travel, fully independent suspension (Coil-sprung MacPherson struts at the front, with coil sprung trailing arms at the rear) that contributed to a soft ride[9] similar to the Citroën 2CV, but with less extreme bodyroll.[10] New for 1983 was the Visa Super E GL, which offered more complete equipment and a redesigned, more comfortable two-piece rear seat. The two seats were easily removed (without requiring tools) to increase luggage capability.[11] For model year 1983 the most powerful Visa yet, the Visa GT, arrived. In addition to the 80-PS engine, it offered alloy wheels with Michelin TRX tires, spoilers, sideskirts and trim, special colors, and a more sporting suspension tuning than what was normal for Citroën.[12] In early 1985 the limited production Visa 14 S Tonic arrived, a version using the GT's engine and transmission coupled with an all-white appearance similar to the Visa Crono but at a price not much higher than the basic Visa 11 RE.[13] Only 2000 Tonics were made.[14]

In spring 1984 the diesel version was added. The Visa 17D and 17RD used the famously rugged and refined, class-leading 1769 cc XUD diesel and transmission from the Peugeot 205. The powertrain required too wide a track for the original engine compartment and wings, so the front wings were extended with large black plastic wheel arch panels. The spare wheel that in smaller petrol engine versions was mounted on top of the flat or near horizontal engine, was bolted to the otherwise flat boot floor, compromising luggage space. In continental Europe, a basic diesel van the 'Visa Enterprise' was sold that used the normal Visa bodyshell with the rear doors welded shut.[15] This version mounted a spacesaver spare wheel under the bonnet, atop the diesel engine.

At the Paris Salon 1984, for model year 1985, the 1.4 L TRS was presented.[16] The Visa 14 TRS, was produced for two years (1985–1987), shared its engine with the Citroën BX14 and receiving a favourable review by CAR magazine.[17] In early 1985 the Visa GTI, fitted with a 1580 cc engine, was introduced. This would be the fastest Visa offered with a top speed of 188 or 192 km/h depending on the engine version.

Between 1985 and 1987 the 1.1 litre petrol and 1.7 litre diesel "Leader" special editions were marketed.[15] Near the end of its production life, a 55 PS (40 kW) catalyzed version of the 1360 cc engine was added for markets with stricter emissions standards.[18]

No automatic gearbox version was produced.

Production of the Visa finished near the end of 1988, when the five-door version of the Citroën AX was launched.

Dashboard satellites and interior[edit]

The Visa driver controls were located in two pods flanking the steering wheel and were marketed as PRN Lunule (Satellites) (P=Pluie – Rain, R=Route – Road, N=Nuit – Night). Controls for wipers, washers, horn, indicators, headlamps and flashers were mounted ergonomically on a cylindrical unit with heating and ventilation controls using laterally arcing sliders were located oppositely on a flat control pod — all within finger-tip reach.[7] In 1979 Popular Science described the system as using a "finger-tip control drum."[19]

In March 1981 the Visa received a facelift, designed by Heuliez, retaining the original interior and the "PRN Satellite" controls. It was now referred to as the Visa II. In the summer of 1984 (for the 1985 model year) the Visa was updated again and received a new dashboard, instruments, and switchgear, retaining its monospoke steering wheel. The turn signals were now self-cancelling, making this the first Citroën to be equipped with this near-universal feature.[20]

The curved sides of the Visa's windscreen enabled the use of a very large single wiper on the long narrow windscreen. The front of the revised car was designed to aerodynamically reduce the deposition of dirt on the headlights, and to reduce the risk of stone chips to the headlights, bonnet and windscreen.

The Visa's heating and ventilation system, (even though it used only a water control valve for temperature control and not air mixing), could provide cold air from fascia side vents to the face while warming the car.[21] The central directable fascia vents could be heated and angled, so that they could be pointed directly at the windscreen in front of the driver, to keep it clear in extreme misting conditions. There was also an additional mid level vent, to blow air between the front seats to the back of the car.[21]

The Visa's rear parcel shelf was in two hinged sections, one in the car, the other on the tailgate, to allow objects that were slightly too tall to still fit without removing the shelf. When carrying larger loads, the part of the shelf attached to the tailgate could be folded up, and fixed with the elasticated support strings, to protect the rear window and heated rear screen elements.[21]

Visa Décapotable[edit]

Citroën commissioned a four-door convertible Visa from Heuliez in 1984. Marketed as the Visa Décapotable, this was one of very few cabrio coaches built in the period: the bodywork features a hybrid fixed-profile convertible with the doors and window frames remaining intact. Based on the 11RE the convertible was heavier and slower than its hatchback counterpart and cost about 50 percent more; the markup was similar to what Fiat and Ford charged for their full convertible versions of the Ritmo and Escort.[22]


Engine Code Engine Type Cubic Capacity (cc) Maximum Power Maximum Torque
V06/630, V06/644, V06/665 2 cylinders (Boxer) 652 34.5 PS (25 kW; 34 hp) at 5250 rpm 48 N⋅m (35 lb⋅ft) at 3500 rpm
XV8 4 cylinders 954 45 PS (33 kW; 44 hp) at 6000 rpm 65 N⋅m (48 lb⋅ft) at 2750 rpm
XW7 1124 50 PS (37 kW; 49 hp) at 5500 rpm 83 N⋅m (61 lb⋅ft) at 2500 rpm
XZ5X 1219 64 PS (47 kW; 63 hp) at 6000 rpm 91 N⋅m (67 lb⋅ft) at 3000 rpm
XY7 1360 60 PS (44 kW; 59 hp) at 5000 rpm 105 N⋅m (77 lb⋅ft) at 2500 rpm
XY8 80 PS (59 kW; 79 hp) at 5800 rpm 108 N⋅m (80 lb⋅ft) at 2800 rpm
XU5J 1580 115 PS (85 kW; 113 hp) at 6250 rpm 131 N⋅m (97 lb⋅ft) at 4000 rpm
XUD7 4 cylinders diesel 1769 60 PS (44 kW; 59 hp) at 4600 rpm 112 N⋅m (83 lb⋅ft) at 2000 rpm




Engine Displacement
Fuelling Power/rpm Torque/rpm Drive Standard
Kerb Weight Speed
0–100 km/h
(0-62 mph) (seconds)
(l/100 km)
Petrol Versions
Visa Special/Club/
V06 652 Carburetor 34.5 PS (25 kW; 34 hp)/5250 49 N⋅m (36 lbf⋅ft)/3500 FWD M/4 745 kg (1,642 lb) 128 km/h (80 mph) 29.3 5.4 1978-87 Air
Visa 10E XV 954 45 PS (33 kW; 44 hp)/6000 66 N⋅m (49 lbf⋅ft)/3000 810 kg (1,786 lb) 133 km/h (83 mph) 19.8 6.6 1986-881 Water
Visa Super/Super E/ L /
11 E/11 RE/Entreprise
XW7 1124 50 PS (37 kW; 49 hp)/5500 84 N⋅m (62 lbf⋅ft)/2500 800 kg (1,764 lb) 144 km/h (89 mph) 16.6 7.7 1978-88
Visa Cabriolet 813 kg (1,792 lb) 137 km/h (85 mph) 20.7 6.5 1983-85
Visa Super X XZ7G 1219 64 PS (47 kW; 63 hp)/6000 91 N⋅m (67 lbf⋅ft)/3000 815 kg (1,797 lb) 155 km/h (96 mph) 14.0 8.3 1980-82
Visa 14 TRS XY7 1360 60 PS (44 kW; 59 hp)/5000 105 N⋅m (77 lbf⋅ft)/2500 830 kg (1,830 lb) 153 km/h (95 mph) 14.0 6.3 1985-87
Visa GT/Chrono2/Tonic XY8 80 PS (59 kW; 79 hp)/58003 109 N⋅m (80 lbf⋅ft)/2800 M/5 830 kg (1,830 lb) 168 km/h (104 mph) 10.9 7.3 1982-85
Visa Chrono4 XYR 93 PS (68 kW; 92 hp)/5800 125 N⋅m (92 lbf⋅ft)/4500 850 kg (1,874 lb) 173 km/h (107 mph) 10.2 8.5 1982
Visa 1000 Pistes - 112 PS (82 kW; 110 hp)/6800 131 N⋅m (97 lbf⋅ft)/4500 AWD 183 km/h (114 mph) 8.7 9 1983
Visa GTi XU5J 1580 Electronic
Multi Port Injection
105 PS (77 kW; 104 hp)/6250 134 N⋅m (99 lbf⋅ft)/4000 FWD M/5 870 kg (1,918 lb) 188 km/h (117 mph) 9.1 7.4 1985-86
XU5 JA/K 115 PS (85 kW; 113 hp)/6250 192 km/h (119 mph) 8.8 7.8 1986-88
Diesel Versions
Visa 17 D/17 RD/
17 D Entreprise
XUD7/K 1769 Naturally Aspirated
Indirect Injection
60 PS (44 kW; 59 hp)/4600 110 N⋅m (81 lbf⋅ft)/2000 FWD M/4 890 kg (1,962 lb) 152 km/h (94 mph) 15.9 5.2 1984-88 Water
1As early as 1984 in some markets
2It is understood the Chrono not solely intended to France and introduced in 1983
372 PS at 6000 rpm for the Swiss market
44 Designed exclusively for the French market

Sport variants[edit]

1982 Citroën Visa Chrono

The first mass-produced sport variant of the Visa was the GT in 1982. It was powered by the 1360 cc XY engine with two downdraft Weber single-barrel carburetors and produced. A lower power single-carb engine was produced for Switzerland. In 1985 a limited production 'GT Tonic' version was released with the addition of a sportier body kit incorporating the riveted wheel arches from the 'Chrono' motorsport model.

Built in late 1981 the Visa Trophée was produced in limited numbers for homologation in the rally group B category. It used the 1219 cc XZ engine as used in the Visa Super X but with heavily modified cylinder head, breathing through two side draft Weber 40 DCOE carburetors and producing an impressive 100 PS (74 kW). The Trophée was designed specifically for the entry level rally car market such as privateers and dealership teams. It had weight savings over the GT such as lighter weight fibre glass body panels, re-designed dashboard and lexan side windows allowing it to weigh in at just under 700 kg. Rally versions were sometimes increased in capacity up to 1299 cc and could produce up to 140 PS (103 kW).

The Visa Chrono was released in 1982 intended for competition in the same vein as the Trophée but in the larger capacity group B engine class. It used the same 1360 cc XY engine as the GT but with a modified, larger valve head and two double-barrel side draft Solex C35 carburetors and produced 93 PS (68 kW). Aside from the exterior body decals other modifications to the car such as the bodykit, with Cibie fog lights, and dashboard also differentiated it from the GT. 2160 were produced for the French market and a further 1600 produced for continental Europe outside France. The non-French models did not have the Solex carbs but the GT's Weber carb and head set up and produced 80 PS (59 kW).

Competition-spec Visa Mille Pistes

The Visa "Mille Pistes" was a four wheel drive version of the Visa homologated for the group B B/10 class. The production versions were known as the Visa 1000 Pistes 4 x 4 of which 200 were built for homologation in 1984. The production version was essentially a 4WD Chrono with the same 1360 cc engine but on twin Weber 40 DCOE carbs and producing 112 PS (82 kW). The Mille Pistes received its name after a Visa 4 x 4 competing in the experimental category won this rally in 1983, with Wambergue and Laverne driving. The evolution models were modified by Denis Mathiot; the displacement was increased to 1440 cc and the resulting power ranged from 135 to 140 PS (99 to 103 kW), with the weight down to 750 kg (1,653 lb).[24]

At the Paris Salon 1984, for model year 1985, the high-performance 1.6 GTi was presented.[16] The GTi used the 1.6 L fuel injected XU5J engine and transmission combination in 105 or 115 PS (77 or 85 kW) versions, borrowed from the successful Peugeot 205 GTI. Citroën gave the GTi plastic wheel arch extensions and quad round headlights, to differentiate the model and try to make it look more sporty. It received good reviews about its ride, performance and roadholding, but due to its older, failed facelift looks and its five-doors, even with a much lower price than the chic 205 it was not a big seller. There are now only a few GTi's left on the UK's roads and most are in storage waiting to be restored and returned to the road. There are currently just 17 GTi's known to the Citroën Car Club (UK) and The Citroën Visa Forum to survive and these are in various states of repair, with the vast majority of them being in long term storage.


  1. ^ Ouaknine, Joest Jonathan (19 November 2007). "Un(e) Visa pour la Chine" [A Visa for China]. Le Blog Auto. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012.
  2. ^ SFRJ četvorotočkaši: Šta su pravili i vozili Jugosloveni? at, 23-12-2015
  3. ^ "Zébu roulant - Madagascar : une île en sursis - Blog". 24 March 2010. Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2010.
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  5. ^ "Projet Y - Citroënet". Retrieved 7 January 2010.
  6. ^ "The Glasgow Herald - Google News Archive Search".
  7. ^ a b c "Citroën Visa - Autocar w/e 30 September 1978".
  8. ^ a b De Leener, Philippe (7 February 1985). "Gedetailleerde Wegtest: Citroën Visa 14 TRS" [Detailed Road Test]. De AutoGids (in Flemish). Vol. 6, no. 140. Brussels, Belgium: Uitgeverij Auto-Magazine. p. 121.
  9. ^ "Citroën Visa - Citroënet". Retrieved 7 January 2010.
  10. ^ Hogsten, Dag E. (22 September 1982). "Modern mjukis" [Modern Softie]. Teknikens Värld (in Swedish). Vol. 34, no. 20. Stockholm, Sweden: Specialtidningsförlaget AB. p. 27.
  11. ^ Hogsten, p. 28
  12. ^ Verhelle, Tony (16 September 1982). "Het Jaar 1983 (5)" [The year 1983 (5)]. De AutoGids (in Dutch). Vol. 3, no. 78. Brussels, Belgium: Uitgeverij Auto-Magazine. p. 82.
  13. ^ Visart, Etienne, ed. (7 February 1985). "Auto Nieuws: Citroën Visa 14 S Tonic" [Car News]. De AutoGids (in Flemish). Vol. 6, no. 140. Brussels, Belgium: Uitgeverij Auto-Magazine. p. A25.
  14. ^ Glon, Ronan (3 February 2013). "Sunday classic: Citroën Visa GT Tonic". Archived from the original on 15 September 2015.
  15. ^ a b "Visavision". Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  16. ^ a b Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (5 March 1987). Automobil Revue 1987 (in German and French). Vol. 82. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. p. 231. ISBN 3-444-00458-3.
  17. ^ CAR magazine 1985
  18. ^ Automobil Revue 1987, p. 232
  19. ^ Michelle Higgins (January 1979). "What's New". Popular Science.
  20. ^ De Leener, p. 128
  21. ^ a b c Citroën Visa Handbook
  22. ^ Visart, Etienne, ed. (7 February 1985). "Katalogusprijzen" [Catalog Prices]. De AutoGids (in Flemish). Vol. 6, no. 140. Brussels, Belgium: Uitgeverij Auto-Magazine. pp. A5–A8.
  23. ^ "Citroën Visa and C15". Archived from the original on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  24. ^ Tourneur, Henry (24 November 1983). "Citroën Visa en BX: vierwielaandrijving voor de kompetitie" [Four-wheel-drive for competition]. De AutoGids (in Dutch). Brussels, Belgium: Uitgeverij Auto-Magazine. 4 (109): 139.

External links[edit]