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Happy birthday, Citroen CX

Published 08 January 2014

Life begins for the Citroen CX in 2014, as it hits 40 years old - will it finally emerge from the shadow of the DS as it so rightly deserves to? If we have any say in the matter, it certainly will because as time passes, the CX's sheer beauty of design and cleverness of engineering stand up to the closest scrutiny.

The CX25 GTi Turbo we recently sampled certainly backs this up - a feeling that this was a cerebral car that had been designed and engineered by people who truly cared about driving, and had a clear idea of what it was they wanted to achieve with their new car. Because even today, there are few cars out there as rewarding as a CX on a long and varied journey.

It's good to see that values are stiffening. Yes, it means that they're harder to get hold of, but ultimately, low values adversely affect how owners approach their servicing, maintenance and repairs - if it's worth peanuts, they'll get monkeys to fix them, so the saying goes.

Back to the CX - looking at the styling of the GTi Turbo in our road test, it's really hard to imagine that it's basically a 40-year old car. The sweeping two-box styling hint four-door coupe, while the 120mph-plus maximum speed of the DTR Turbo 2 would allow it to keep up with most family turbodiesels today. But it's in the controls where the CX really does feel like a modern - the sharp and, some would say, dive-free over-assisted brakes and super-fast steering define the CX beautifully.

Citroen _cx _2000_2

And today, when you'll feel something similar in many new cars - in this, at least, the rest of the industry was inspired by, and has caught up with, Citroen. One feature standard on the DS and SM that didn't make it to the CX was the swivelling headlamps that moved in unison with the steering, to light up around bends as you drive them. See how many cars are doing that now? Exactly. Citroen was silly to drop it.

Having said that, the CX wasn't exactly good news for its maker in the early years. The huge cost of its development, put a huge strain on Citroen's finances. But it didn't stop there - one powertrain option was a new triple-rotor Wankel engine, co-developed with Comotor. That foundered, causing a huge cash write-off. Then there was the abandoned Joint Venture with Fiat, which would have seen the CX co-developed alongside with the Gamma, to run with a shared platform and other features. When that was cancelled, so were the appealing financial benefits. Then there was the cost of the new factory near Paris they put up to build the CX in...

So, Citroen stood alone, developing the hugely advanced and complex CX by itself. Costs mounted, and as the 1973 Energy Crisis hit, and sales of the SM and DS dropped off, Citroen's cash flow really suffered. And as bankrupcy approached, the French government stepped in and suggested that the company speaks to Peugeot in the run-up to the CX's launch. And you know the rest.

But that was then and this is now - and as the Citroen CX enters its 40th year, it looks as fresh as the day it was born. And that's why we love it...

Citroen _cx _2400_pallas _7

 

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