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A Grand Monday: Citroen AX Debut Diesel

Published 08 May 2017

Making its debut at the 1986 Paris Motor Show, the Citroen AX was originally slated as the replacement for the Citroen LNA and Talbot Samba.

But following PSA's decision to axe the Talbot brand, the Samba replacement never appeared. The AX, however, would replace both the LNA and the Visa, although the commercial vehicle variant of the latter - the C15 - actually outlived it.

In many senses, the AX was a very basic vehicle. It used tried and tested mechanical components, with the TU and TUD engines from existing Peugeot and Citroen models, but in other ways it was highly advanced. Sponsored by the French government's ECO2000 project, Citroen was gifted a development grant to spend on making the car more environmentally friendly.

A project to reduce the weight resulted in plastic panels for both the bonnet and tailgate, while the body-coloured bumpers were dyed during production rather than painted, as this process was considered more ecologically friendly.

Citroen AX (4)

The result was one of the lightest cars on the road - just 611kg in base trim - and one that was, by virtue of its weight savings, extremely economical.

It was stylish, too, with angular frontal styling and a wedge-shaped rear giving it an appearance that, even today, belies the30 years since it was introduced to the UK market, in June 1987.

The cheap and disposable nature of AXs means that their numbers have declined steeply in recent years, and the supply of good ones is fewer and further between. 

All of which makes this example, for sale at a mere £390, quite a tempting proposition. With the 1.4-litre TUD diesel engine, it's no rocket ship, but the flip side of that is that, in its day, it was the most economcial car money could buy. It will do around 60mpg in normal use, and top 75mpg on a cruise. 

For the frugal classic car enthusiast, especially a student or a younger driver, it's cool in a retro sense, but also extremely sensible. An absolute doddle to maintain, it'll cost pennies to insure on a limited mileage classic policy, and sips fuel. It also has a long MoT, until January 2018.

Citroen AX (2)

In fact, it's MoT test history over the past five or six years is relatively spotless, with barely any advisories - apart from a few minor headlight issues.

As a cheap, characterful and entertaining retro classic, this one has a lot going for it, and we doubt it'll be for sale for long...  


Richard Parker    on 4 October 2017

We have two peugeot 106 diesels which are not far removed from this model except ours have the 1500 engine not the 1400 cc .
One is a 1995 and the other a 1994 .
They are fantastic cars with ultra reliable engines and no electronics to go wrong.
They do in fact do 70 mpg plus if you are careful and never seem to do less than 60mpg .

We bought ours as workhorses,and because we are sick of modern cars letting us down with stupid uneccessary electronic faults .
We get in these cars and we know they work.
These diesel cars were in my opinion probably some of the most relianble cars ever made ( as long as you change the cam belt, oil and fuel filters per scedule) . Watch for leaky radiators as there is no temperature guage to warn you the engine is overheating.Monitor the radiator for tell tale streaks of coolant on the fins and check the coolant level regularly it could save you a head gasket .

The writer is correct this would be a very cheap and reliable car for someone.

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