Citroën AX Through the Years

Table of Contents

Citroën AX is a compact vehicle that truly exemplifies French automotive innovation. The efficient performance and its minimalist design turned out to be its identifying features. But did it really keep up with handling and driving experience? Was it economical or just another car with an intense carbon footprint? Let’s find that out together.

Overview of Citroën AX

A vehicle with exceptional fuel economy is everyone’s dream. But getting such a vehicle at an affordable price that is not too heavy on pockets seems too good to be true. The Citroën AX proved that it could be possible.

Citroën AX, a supermini, emerged on the scene in 1986 that came from the renowned French automaker Citroën. This vehicle was designed for everyday urban commuting. Its arrival also marked a departure from the conventional automotive design as AX came with a lightweight structure and became popular in no time.

But what exactly was so attractive about the AX? We will find it in this article.


To replace the Citroën Visa and Citroën LNA, the French manufacturer Citroën launched Citroën AX in 1986. This vehicle was introduced for the first time at the Paris Motor Show and continued all the way up to 1998. This vehicle became popular for its lightweight design and fuel efficiency. It initially came into the market as a three-door hatchback and was among the first few vehicles that featured a modern design. It was also one of the first cars that offered a fully galvanized body that could enhance corrosion resistance.

The development of Citroën AX actually started in 1983. It was thought to serve as a basis for a companion model under the Talbot brand, intended to replace the existing Talbot Samba. But things didn’t really work out, and the Talbot version never made it to production.

The vehicle Citroën AX was initially launched in 1986 with the left-hand-drive version only, while its right-hand version became available later in the UK market in August 1987. As the  Citroën 2CV left the market officially in 1990, the Citroën AX became the smallest vehicle in the Citroën range.

The table below covers the summary of model years, engine options, and the performance features of the Citroën AX.

Model YearCar ModelEnginePerformance Features
1986Citroën AX 3-Door1.0L I4, 1.1L I4, 1.4L I4Initial production of the three-door hatchback.
1987Citroën AX 5-Door1.0L I4, 1.1L I4, 1.4L I4Featured in special editions like the AX Sport and offered common engine options.
1988Citroën AX (Facelift)1.0L I4, 1.1L I4, 1.4L I4, 1.4L DieselFirst facelift, incorporating subtle design and safety changes. Introduction of the 1.4L Diesel engine.
1991Citroën AX (Sport)1.4L I4Special edition with better performance.
1992Citroën AX (Facelift), GTi1.0L I4, 1.1L I4, 1.4L I4, 1.5L DieselSecond facelift, refining design, and updated interior features.
1995 Citroën AX Echo1.0L I4, 1.1L I4, 1.4L I4Featured a top speed of 110 mph
1996Citroën AX Électrique20 kW engineIt had a maximum speed of 91 km/h
1998Citroën AX (Phased Out)VariesProduction gradually ceased, which paved the way for the Citroën Saxo.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

As summarized in the table, the Citroën AX was available in different engine options and transmissions. The engine options didn’t remain limited but evolved over the years as we saw the introduction of the diesel engine in 1988.

In its initial release in 1986, the Citroën AX came with a selection of engines that included a 1.0L inline-4, a 1.1L inline-4, and a 1.4L inline-4. These engines were capable of providing a nice balance of performance and efficiency. While the first two engine options were great for everyday drives, the 1.4L engine found its place in special editions like the AX Sport, which was supposed to give a better performance to sports car enthusiasts. As for the diesel option, with its 1.4 L capacity (later increased to 1.5 L in September 1994), it suited more to those who aimed at prioritizing fuel economy.

Both the 4-speed and 5-speed manual transmissions were available for the Citroën AX, and they both were adopted widely by the drivers.

Talking about its performance, the Citroën AX was recognized widely as a vehicle with agile handling. It is super fun on the road and comes with a moderate suspension, unlike the complicated ones in the larger vehicles, but it still manages to smooth out bumps on the road. You will also find this supermini a lot lighter and, thus, a lot more responsive than other vehicles of the same segment.


The Citroën AX turned out to be great in terms of both weight and aerodynamics. A lot of plastic panels have been used in the making of this vehicle, particularly in the non-load-bearing areas. At the same time, the thickness of steel varies greatly throughout the car depending on the needs.

As we see from the far, the Citroën AX carries a sloping hood, a gently curved roofline, and clean lines. Its front fascia contains a bold Citroën emblem that is embedded within a compact grille, while the headlights feature variations in shape and style, depending on the model year. Overall, this vehicle is designed with a simplicity that is totally in line with the AX’s position as an entry-level vehicle.

You will find this vehicle totally compact, having well-defined proportions. That said, it’s just the perfect one to commute within crowded city streets and tight spaces. Later, in 1988, subtle changes were introduced to the exterior as a part of the facelift that provided a fresh look while maintaining the AX’s recognizable silhouette.

Inside the Citroën AX

There is nothing extraordinary inside the Citroën AX that will make it a worth-buying vehicle. It was an epitome of simplicity, featuring five seats that were covered in gray. The interior was designed such that it is super comfortable for everyday commuting.

As for the cargo space, this car features a small trunk space having a volume of 273 l. With the back seat collapsed, it can be expanded to 668 l, which is quite modest for such a supermini. You can use this space to accommodate groceries and other small items, but it’s definitely not the one designed for extensive cargo hauling.

Moving on to the infotainment, again, there’s not much to talk about. However, it was pretty much in line with the technology available during its production years. The car had a radio, and many of its models featured cassette players as well. AM, FM, and CD were optional.

In terms of equipment, the Citroën AX had features that were good for its time. They include power steering, which is a needed convenience. Other than that, the dashboard and everything else was super straightforward. However, you may get many additional amenities on higher-end models, like central locking systems and power windows.

About 2,425,138 units of Citroën AX have been produced from the time of its production in 1986 till 1998. This vehicle was priced at around 6,000 to 9,000 French Francs, making it quite an affordable and practical choice.

Driving Experience

Despite the absence of a turbocharged engine, the Citroën AX had an amazing performance. This vehicle was capable of reaching speeds over 98 mph and accelerating from zero to sixty in 12.7 seconds; the AX with this diesel powerplant proved to be a spirited performer.

When on the road, the Citroën AX comes out to be a middle-lane hustler that makes it convenient to make overtakes. It is the agility and responsiveness of this car that makes it a good choice for sporty drivers as they can go for the higher-end models like GT and GTi.

You may observe a touch of nose heaviness in the steering, particularly during hard cornering. However, this doesn’t stop you from enjoying the overall smooth driving experience. Furthermore, the fuel economy of this car is also commendable, with Citroën claiming up to 78.5 mpg in diesel variants. While in real-world usage most owners achieve slightly over 60mpg.


Urban dwellers remained the top consumers of the Citroën AX, for it provided a practical solution. It features practical dimensions, top-notch suspension, and impressive handling that makes the experience super good for every driver. Buyers drawn to a more practical vehicle instantly embraced the AX, recognizing it as more than just a compact car.


  • An economic choice
  • Responsive handling
  • lightweight body


  • Nose heaviness during cornering
  • limited cargo space

Automotive Journalist Verdict

Citroën AX has been thoroughly applauded by automotive experts for its compactness and performance. Its fuel efficiency remained the most talked about topic throughout its production years.


Is the Citroën AX a collectible car?

Though it’s not widely considered a collectible, some Citroën AX models still hold value among car lovers.

What makes the Citroën AX popular among urban drivers?

Its lightweightness and compactness are the highlighting features that make it popular among urban drivers.

Written by: Motorcardata

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