BUYING GUIDE CITROËN AX
Get yourself one of the most desirable and charismatic small French cars ever
Desirable, charismatic and a lot more fun than you might expect. Cheap too.
Considered to be Citroën’s first convincing step into the supermini market, the AX was light, nimble and ‘ revolutionnaire’ according to Citroën’s ad campaigns. Launched in 1986, it promised fuel consumption of 70mpg (in 1.0-litre form), refined engineering and an accomplished drive. It was incredibly popular, especially among youngsters who appreciated the overall light and airy feel to it, making it a doddle to drive. Its adaptability served it well, offering buyers a choice of petrol and diesel engines, three- and five-door bodies and even a 4x4 model, although we never got the last of these in the UK.
In 1996, it was largely superseded by the Saxo (although the AX continued to be produced until 1998), which was based on the Peugeot 106, which itself was a re-working of the AX. If that wasn’t proof of how modern a car it was, it continued to be manufactured from 1996 to 2000 in Malaysia, where it was badged as the Proton Tiara.
WHY YOU WANT ONE
In the time before soft-roaders and crossovers, the simple hatchback was good enough for the average Brit. We loved them for being cheap to run and repair, while being economical enough to get more than 40mpg (depending on the engine). The AX is spacious enough, with adequate room for kids – and not just on short journeys to the shops and back. It’s modern and sufficiently reliable to be used as an everyday driver, but its innate French quirkiness makes it more interesting than many of its rivals. GTs and GTIs are especially fun, albeit very rare.
BELOW A special edition AX GT500 was released for the UK market with halfleather seats. Only 500 were made for Britain.
LEFT Sparse interior means there’s less to go wrong. Unbelievably, pictured on the left is a top of the range GTI.
100bhp from the 1.4-litre lump makes the car sprightly.