The Big Car Database

Citroen Ax 1986–1998

Citroën AX
Citroen AX front 20071126.jpg
Manufacturer Citroën
Production 1986–1998 (2,425,138 units)
Assembly Rennes, France
Body and chassis
Class Supermini (B)
Body style 3-door hatchback
5-door Hatchback
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Engine 1.0 L I4 (petrol)
1.1 L I4 (petrol)
1.3 L I4 (petrol)
1.4 L I4 (petrol)
1.4 L I4 (diesel)
1.5 L I4 (diesel)
Transmission 4-speed manual
5-speed manual
Wheelbase 2,280 mm (89.8 in)
Length 3,525 mm (138.8 in)
Width 1,555 mm (61.2 in)
Height 1,355 mm (53.3 in)
Curb weight 640–850 kg (1,411–1,874 lb)
Predecessor Citroën LNA
Citroën Axel
Citroën Visa
Successor Citroën Saxo

The Citroën AX is a supermini which was built by the French manufacturer Citroën from 1986 to 1998.

It was launched at the 1986 Paris Motor Show to replace the Citroën Visa and Citroën LNA


Rear of pre-facelift AX
Interior of an early AX
Interior of a later AX

Development of this model started in 1983, and was initially also going to form the basis of a sister model from Talbot to replace the Samba; however, the falling popularity of the Talbot brand had led to Peugeot deciding to axe it by the time the Citroën AX was launched, and so the Talbot version never made it into production.

The car was available from its launch on 2 October 1986, as a three-door hatchback with 1.0, 1.1 and 1.4-litre TU-series belt driven OHC engines. A range of five-door models was added in 1987 and a 1.4 litre diesel engine was introduced in 1988. The right-hand drive version for the UK market was launched in August 1987, initially only as a three-door hatchback, with a five-door version joining the range a year later. The latter was subsequently replaced by a 1.5 litre unit. The very earliest cars had an issue with gear shifters falling off; this was rectified by the time the AX reached export markets. It was initially backed by a memorable television advertising campaign filmed in China, starring actress Janet Mas and an elderly gentleman, whose character was simply known as Mr. Wong.

Citroën AX five-door

The car was very economical, largely because of excellent aerodynamics for its class of car (drag coefficient of 0.31) and a very light weight of 640 kg (1,411 lb) for the basic version. This was due to the extensive use of plastic panels in non-load bearing areas and varying the thicknesses of steel in the bodyshell to be the minimum needed to take required loads. Another target for the engineers was lowering friction in the engines. The AX has fully independent suspension with unusually long wheel travel.

It also optionally used self-coloured plastic bumpers. This technology came from the PSA Peugeot-Citroën / Renault / French government ECO 2000 project. The production version was much more conservative than the original 'one box' design prototype, that was closer to the Eco 2000 styling after negative reactions in focus groups. The "one-box" supermini eventually came to market with the early '90s Renault Twingo.

In 1989, an naturally aspirated diesel AX, using the 1360 cc all aluminium alloy TUD engine, managed a figure of 2.7 litres per 100 kilometres (100 mpg‑imp; 87 mpg‑US), totalling over 1,000 miles (1,609 km) from Dover to Barcelona. This was the longest ever distance travelled on 10 imp gal (45.5 L; 12.0 US gal) of fuel and earned it a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most economical production car. Also available was a 4x4 variant, but with limited success when compared to the rival Fiat Panda 4x4. The A 4x4 was only available with five doors and was not sold in the United Kingdom.

The first performance version was the limited-run AX Sport from 1987, with a 1.3 engine and twin carburettors producing 95 bhp (71 kW; 96 PS), wearing iconic white steel wheels (5,5" x 13") which resembled those on its brother, the Peugeot 205 Rallye. The AX Sport used Solex ADDHE 40 carburettors until late 1988 and was then replaced with Weber DCOM 40s, just like the 205 Rallye 1,3. The AX Sport had a shorter inlet manifold than the 205 Rallye, to save room in the smaller engine compartment. In phase 2 guise the Sport was available in other colours and with optional GT wheels and rear spoiler.

Later, the AX 14GT, with a single-carburettor 85 bhp (63 kW; 86 PS) 1.4 engine also found in the Peugeot 205 XS, was introduced. From 1991, this model utilised fuel injection to coincide with the revamp of the entire range and to coincide with tougher 1992 EU emission regulations that introduced exhaust catalytic converters.


Post-facelift AX
Rear of facelifted model

Late 1991 saw the range revised, with a heavily facelifted tailgate and interior being the most notable changes. The front turn signals were now clear, and the Citroën logo was moved to the center of the bonnet. The much maligned dashboard was replaced by a more conservative design.

The following year saw the introduction of the most powerful AX variant, the 100 bhp (75 kW; 101 PS) GTi. The GT was sold alongside the GTi for a few months, but was eventually phased out. New models were also introduced, such as the Forte, Spree, Elation and Dimension.

In January 1995, the Citroën AX Echo was launched, with a top speed of 110 mph (180 km/h). Its closest competitor, the Peugeot 106 Ski, (that shared components with the AX), was outsold by the Echo. From June 1996, following the introduction of the Saxo, the range was slimmed-down, with production of the AX ending in December 1998, after a 12-year production run. It had been withdrawn from the UK market during the first half of 1997, following the demise of right-hand drive production. A total of 2,425,138 AXs were produced.

The Peugeot 106 (launched in 1991) and Citroën Saxo were both developments of the AX. They followed the 1990s trend for heavier, more solid and 'safer' feeling cars that continues today. The AX was designed for lightness, with a 'less is more' philosophy, but with more conventional styling than previous Citroëns.


Mega Club cabriolet
Mega Ranch cabriolet

In 1996, the EV3 engine (air engine) was mounted into a regular Citroën AX car by MDI. Heuliez presented an estate version called the AX Evasion at the 1988 Mondial de l'Automobile.

The Citroën AX BB Cabrio was a small roadster derived from the AX (1988). In Portugal, Citroën dealership Benjamin Barral from Amadora in Lisbon created an unofficial convertible version in the 1980s until about 1996 called the BB AX Cabrio, originally powered by the twin-choke carb AX GT 1.4 L engine, but later available with any type of engine that equipped the 3 door AX.

At one stage, parent firm PSA Peugeot Citroën had planned to launch a Talbot Samba replacement as a version of the AX with a different grille and a Talbot badge, but this plan was cancelled, as the entire Talbot marque was axed on passenger cars by 1987 following several years of declining sales.

Automobiles Citroën also launched the AX Pistes Rouges 4WD 1400 model, based on the standard three-door AX GT 1360cc engine but with a unique four-wheel-drive system developed and produced by the French Dangel company for between 1992 and 1994.

Malaysian car company Proton produced a version of the Citroën AX, the Proton Tiara, from 1996 to 2000.

Aixam Mega at one time built an AX derivative called Mega Club and Mega Ranch. It was somewhat inspired by the Méhari, with a plastic bodywork and an optional convertible version, with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. It was discontinued in 1998, after nearly 1,000 had been built. A competition version of the Mega Club with a tubeframe chassis raced in the Andros Trophy in the early 1990, but powered by Ford and Honda engines.


VDS Model Production
ZAZA AX 10 E 1986–1990
ZAZA AX Ten 1991 - UK
ZAZA AX 10 RE 1987–1989
ZAZB AX 10 RE 1987–1988
ZALH AX 10 1992 - UK
ZAZB AX 11 RE 1988–1990
ZAZB AX 11 TE 1990–1991
ZAZB AX 11 TGE 1990–1991
ZAZB AX 11 TRE 1987–1989
ZAZB AX 11 TRS 1990–1991
ZAZA AX 11 1992–1994
ZAZP AX 11 1994 - UK
ZADA AX 11 1994–UK
ZAZC AX 11 1994–UK
ZAZC AX 14 TRS 1987–1990
ZAZC AX 14 TZX 1991–1991
ZADD AX 14 1992–1994
ZAZD AX 14 1992–1994
ZAZD AX GT 1988–1992
ZADD AX 14 GT 1992–1994
ZAZW AX GT 1994 - UK
ZADN AX GTi 1991–1992
ZADM AX GTi 1992 - UK
ZALB AX 4x4 1991–1992
ZALF AX 4x4 1992 - UK
ZAZL AX Sport 1987–1991
ZAZA AX K-Way 1988–1991
ZAZA AX Spot 1991–1991
ZAZB AX Image 1991–1991
ZAZB AX Thalassa 1991–1991
ZAZD AX Volcane 1991–1991
ZAZT AX 14 D 1990–1991
ZAZT AX 14 RD 1989–1990
ZAZT AX 14 TGD 1991–1992
ZAZT AX D 1992–1994
ZADF AX 14 D 1994 - UK
ZAKH AX 15 D 1994 - UK
ZAZH AX 10 E 1988–1989
ZAZH AX 10 RE 1988–1993
ZAZH AX Ten 1991–1993
ZALJ AX 10 1992 - UK
ZAZJ AX 11 TGE 1990–1991
ZAZJ AX 11 RE 1988–1989
ZAZJ AX 11 TE 1990–1991
ZAZJ AX 11 TRE 1988–1989
ZAZJ AX 11 TRS 1990–1991
ZADB AX 11 1992–1994
ZAZ5 AX 11 1994 - UK
ZAZB AX 11 1994 - UK
ZAZK AX 11 1994 - UK
ZAZK AX 14 TRS 1988–1990
ZAZK AX 14 TZS 1988–1989
ZAZK AX 14 TZX 1991–1991
ZAZE AX 14 1992–1994
ZAZY AX 14 1994 - UK
ZAZX AX 14 1994 - UK
ZAZY AX GT 1990–1992
ZADE AX GT 1992–1994
ZAZY AX 14 1994 - UK
ZAZX AX 14 1994 - UK
ZAZY AX GT 1990–1992
ZADE AX GT 1992–1994
ZAZU AX 4x4 1991–1992
ZALG AX 4x4 1992 - UK
ZAZH AX K Way 1988–1991
ZAZJ AX Image 1991–1991
ZAZJ AX Thalassa 1991–1991
ZAZU AX 14 D 1989–1991
ZAZU AX 14 RD 1989–1990
ZAZU AX 14 TRD 1989–1991
ZAZU AX 14 TGD 1991–1991
ZAZU AX 14 D 1992–1994
ZADG AX 14 D 1994 - UK
ZAKJ AX 15 D 1994 - UK
ZAZU AX Image D 1991–1991
ZAZU AX Thalassa D 1991–1991