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Citroen AX History

The 'Citroën AX' is a supermini car built by the French manufacturer Citroën from 1986 to 1998.

The AX was launched at the 1986 Paris Motor Show to replace the Citroën Visa. The car was available from launch as a three-door hatchback with 1.0, 1.1 and 1.4-litre 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 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.

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 around 650kg 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. This technology came from the PSA Peugeot-Citroen / Renault / French government ECO 2000 project. In 1989 it managed a figure of 2.7L/100km, totalling over 1000 miles from Dover to Barcelona. This was the longest ever distance travelled on 10 gallons of fuel and earned it a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most economical production car.

The first performance version was the limited-run AX Sport from 1987, with a 1.3 engine and twin carburretors producing 95 BHP. Later, the AX 14GT, with a single-carburettor 85 BHP 1.4 engine also found in the Peugeot 205 XS, was introduced. From 1992, this model utilised fuel injection.

1991 saw the range revised, with a smoothed tailgate that had the lower lip removed, a rear bumper to match the new boot, clear indicators and a new style grille. The interior also received an upgrade with a new more rounded dash. The following year saw the introduction of the most powerful AX variant, the 100bhp GTi.

The range was slimmed-down in 1996, following the introduction of the Saxo, with production of the AX ending in 1998. The Peugeot 106 / Citroën Saxo were both developments of the AX. They followed the '90s trend for heavier, safer, more solid feeling cars that continues today. The AX was designed for lightness, with a 'less is more' philosophy, but with more conventional styling than previous Citroens.

AX derivatives
  • Heuliez presented an station wagon|estate version called the AX Evasion at the 1988 Mondial de l'Automobile.

Citroën Ax Estate Prototype

  • The Citroën Xanthia concept car was a small roadster derived from the AX (1988). In Portugal, tuner Benjamin Barral created an unofficial convertible version, called the BB Cabrio, powered by the twin-carb AX GT 1.4L engine.
  • 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 not executed, as the entire Talbot marque was axed in the same year the AX was launched.
  • The Proton company of Malaysia produced a version of the Citroën AX called the Proton Tiara, from 1996 to 2000.
  • Aixam Mega at one time built an AX derivative called Mega Club. It was somewhat inspired by the Citroën Méhari, with a plastic bodywork and an optional convertible version. It was discontinued in 1998. 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.
Facts & Factoids

In 1996, during investigations of Diana Princess of Wales death, a British tabloid publishes photos of a white Citroen AX that it says might have been involved in the crash. Investigators suspect that the Mercedes driven by Paul might have grazed a white car before crashing but believe it to be a Fiat Uno. They say they have the “most extreme reservations” that the Citroen was involved.

Throughout the advertising for the Citroen AX it was always described as 'The City Car'. Despite this, in promotions the vehicle was always shown driving on rough terrain or scaling the Great Wall of China for the 'Revolutionnaire' campaign. The car was never seen advertised on a road or in a city.

AXs have been used as speed trap cars by Kent police.

In Bulgaria the AX is a popular car for use as a taxi.

Almost 20 years after it was first launched, the AX was used as an event on the 2006 World's Strongest Man competition. Competitors 'picked' up the stripped out car using a harness, standing inside a hole that had been cut out from the centre of the body.

A small car on the big screen, the AX had a cameo in the 2003 hit movie Johnny English. The small metallic blue special edition AX managed to creep into shot not once, but on two separate occasions in the film. First was the 'Dangling sports car' scene to which our AX is the first car to pull away from the traffic lights, the second is 'Legs in the parking lot' when our AX is in shot parked on the upper ledge just squeezing in its chevrons, headlight and bumper.

AX Specials:

The ax super production was Citroen's attempt at making a race/track version of the ax. Please follow the link below to read an article covering this special edition model:

ax_superproduction.pdf

ax_history.txt · Last modified: 2016/08/18 20:27 (external edit)