Greatest road tests ever: Citroen AX

99 citroen ax front quarter

We loved this little hot hatch when we tested it in 1991

Tested 18.9.91

We had enjoyed the flyweight Citroen AX GT’s perky performance, and although the heavier and more grown-up GTi was no quicker, it handled a treat.

Fuel injection and a higher compression ratio helped raise power by 15bhp over the carbfed GT model, and torque rose by 5lb ft, but a newly sturdier construction meant the GTi was 15% heavier, at 820kg, and actually lost out on both in-gear pace and fuel economy. Where the GT was free-spinning, the GTi was coarse, preferring to dwell between 3500rpm and 5500rpm. Thankfully, gear ratios had been chosen accordingly, and driveline shunt was reduced, too.

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With reworked front wishbones and stiffer springs and dampers, the AX GTi handled much like its Peugeot 205 GTi cousin, yielding throttle adjustability and lift-off oversteer. The urban ride was now lumpier, but damping was exemplary on B-roads. Brakes were strong and fade-free

The new cabin (from the ZX) was a massive upgrade, albeit only to class standards, and the same went for upholstery quality and cabin refinement. The interior still took four adults in decent comfort for short hops.

For: Improved cabin and build, fun handling, fine brakes, price

Against: Indifferent economy, reduced flexibility, still noisy

What happened next…

The AX GTi was phased out in 1994, and AX production wound down altogether with the arrival of the Saxo in 1996. The hot Saxos were the VTR and VTS (0-60mph in 7.5sec), offering 90bhp and 120bhp respectively from their 1.6-litre engines. The VTR gained 10bhp with 1999’s facelift. Fewer than 10 AX GTis remain on UK roads now and just over 60 are registered SORN.

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Source: Autocar

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