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    CITROËN CX GTI TURBO ( #1985 - #1989 ) / #Citroen-CX-GTI-Turbo / #Citroen-CX-GTi-Turbo / #Citroen-CX25-GTi-Turbo / #Citroen-CX-GTi-Turbo-Series-1 / #Citroen-CX / #Citroen

    Citroën owners are passionate ones. They get the brand; all its pitfalls suddenly become attractive characteristics that make the brand stand out. The Citroën CX GTI is certainly amongst Citroën’s quirkiest models, and the CX itself is often regarded as the last proper Citroën before its takeover by Peugeot.

    The CX took over the big saloon gauntlet from the DS within the Citroen family. It was praised for its free-revving, long legged performance even before the GTI model arrived. The addition of the turbocharger in the 2.5-litre CX boosted power to a healthy 168bhp and top speed reached 135mph. While the speed aspect isn’t something to shout home about, it’s enough to help the CX along the way. Besides, its good looks are enough to woo you anyway.

    Today, finding a CX GTI is difficult enough, let alone one in RHD. We found just one example for sale, which resided in sunny Spain; a left-hand drive, automatic example which had covered almost 90,000 miles priced at just under £14,000.
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    CLASS-BEATING EXEC AT 41 ANNIVERSARY – 1974 CITROËN CX / #Citroen-CX / #Citroen-CX-Prestige / #Citroen-CX-Prestige-Series-I

    It’s 40 years since Citroen took the plunge and replaced the revolutionary DS. Ian Seabrook charts the history of this big French wedge and the many variants it was produced in. The striking replacement for the legendary DS is now 40 years old, but no less remarkable. We take a look at this car’s history.

    The CX had what’s known in the music world as a tough gig. The Traction Avant had been incredible enough, with its front-wheel drive monocoque construction being pretty revolutionary for the mid ‘Thirties, but Michelin-owned Citroën was only just warming up. When the DS arrived in 1955, the motoring world was still struggling to catch up with the Traction – now here was a car that looked like it was from the future (and felt like it to drive too).

    Both cars had been massive leaps forward in technology, but the CX would not be as pioneering as its predecessors. That may be hard to believe when you consider the impact its sleek lines must’ve made back in 1974, but it was very much toned down from the car Citroën originally wanted to produce. The ‘ #Project-L ’ prototype, which still exists, has a flat-four engine. Other options were a flat-six (continuing a theme explored with the DS during development) or even Wankel power, with a triple-rotor engine tested. Sadly, these experiments, plus the purchase of #Maserati in 1968, left Citroën’s finances in a perilous state. Again.

    So, the CX would be launched under Peugeot’s watchful gaze, as #1974 was also the year that Michelin handed over control to Citroën’s long-term rival. In the end, as with the DS, Citroën had opted for sheer convention when it came to engines – DS engines were tweaked and offered in 1985cc and 2175cc form. The engines were now mounted transversely (rather than longitudinally) and the new gearbox had only four speeds. Suspension was still by double wishbones and hydropneumatic spheres up front, and a trailing arm/hydropneumatic type at the rear. While very few CXs were sold without power steering, most used the same #DIRAVI system as seen on the #Citroen SM. This had speed-sensitive assistance and powered self-centring. It was also highly direct, which makes it very difficult to drive a CX smoothly the first time you try! Interestingly, the CX was actually quite a lot smaller than the DS: The saloon was 11 inches (28cm) shorter, and three inches (7.62cm) narrower.

    UK sales commenced in 1975. From 1976, there was a three-speed semiautomatic transmission offered – the #Citroen-CX-C-Matic . This required the driver to change ratios, but used a torque converter (to dispense with the clutch pedal) and an electrically-controlled clutch for gearchanges. For the first time there was now a diesel option too – in 2.2-litre form. Its 66bhp allowed for a 90mph top speed due to good aerodynamics, though the 0-60mph time of 20 seconds was not exactly brisk.


    1976 also saw the introduction of the Safari and Familiale estates – with five or eight seats respectively. The estate had a longer wheelbase – they are in fact enormous. 195 inches (495cm) long, they can be tricky to park but boast plenty of passenger space and a useful luggage area. That long wheelbase was also used for a stretched saloon – the range-topping Prestige. The #Citroen-CX2200 gave way to the 2400 in #1977 , which was available in fuel-injected form in the new 128bhp GTi. This also introduced a five-speed gearbox. #1978 saw the fuel-injected GTi engine fitted to the Pallas and Prestige, with #C-Matic transmission for the #Pallas . The 2400 diesel became a 2500. #1979 saw the first fruits of the Peugeot takeover: The ‘ #Douvrin ’ engine was a joint development between Peugeot and Renault, and was fitted to the Renault 20 and 30, as well as the Peugeot 505. It used a beltdriven, overhead camshaft and while not exactly exciting, proved remarkably hardy. The 2.4-litre, overhead valve petrol engine remained in use and while many hoped that the Douvrin V6 (another joint development, this time including Volvo) might be shoehorned into the CX’s engine bay, that never happened. However, the five-speed gearbox was now offered across the board.

    The quirky C-Matic was seen as the worst of both worlds by many and was replaced by a fully automatic #ZF gearbox in 1980. This was also a three-speed unit and it suited the torquey engines very well. Different front wings, with flared wheelarches, were fitted from 1982 to allow the fitment of wider wheels. Was more performance on the way?


    That extra performance first applied to the diesels, with the launch in #1984 of the #Citroen-CX-RD-Turbo and #Citroen-CX-TRD-Turbo (badged, for rather obvious reasons, #Citroen-CX-DTR-Turbo in the UK). The turbo-charger boosted torque by nearly 50 per cent to 159lb/ft, and power by nearly a third from 75bhp to 95bhp. Top speed rose from 97mph to 108mph and 3.5 seconds was shaved from the 0-60mph time – now 13.3 seconds. This allowed it to beat the Rover SD1 2400D as the fastest production diesel available in the UK. Meanwhile, the 2400 engines were upped to 2473cc and rebadged #Citroen-CX-25 .

    In 1985, Citroen bolted a turbo-charger to the GTi, to create the #Citroen-CX-GTi-Turbo . With 168bhp on tap, performance was certainly quite exciting. 129mph was in reach, and 60mph came up in just 8.2 seconds. These cars were beautifully detailed too – the alloy wheels included T-shaped holes. The non-blown 2.5-litre petrol engine also became available in the bottom of the range R spec – as the #Citroen-CX-25RI . Oddly, this larger engine retained overheadvalve construction, right up to the end of production.

    The Series 2 facelift took place in 1986, with plastic bumpers replacing the sleek metal originals. Inside, the rotating dial speedometer and rev counter were replaced with conventional dials, but the unusual switch lay-out remained, with paddles for the lights and wipers, and rocker switches for the indicators, which still didn’t self-cancel. A new 22TRS midrange model filled the gap between two-litre and 2.5-litre, and used a stretched version of the Douvrin overhead cam engine. 1987 saw more changes, with the launch of Turbo 2 versions of the petrol and diesel. Confusingly, Citroën was claiming 169bhp for the GTi Turbo 2, despite the fact that top speed had risen to 138mph compared to the 168bhp GTi Turbo. 60mph now came up in just 7.7 seconds. Even more dramatic was the change to the DTR Turbo 2, which could now top 120mph and blast to 60mph in less than 11 seconds. That was remarkable for a diesel at the time – only the Mercedes-Benz 300D Turbo got close, and that needed 500 more cubic centimetres and two more cylinders.

    But the CX was on borrowed time by now. Citroën launched the XM in 1989 (another anniversary) and while CX estate production continued until 1990, that was phased out once the new XM estate came online.

    With 1.2 million CXs sold, the CX was a rare thing indeed – a large French car that sold well. The XM never got close to that success, with only 333,775 sold. The C6, which even stole the CX’s famed curved rear window glass, sold a paltry 23,421. The problem was, while Citroën always aimed for the CX to have a long production life, it gave time for the rest of the motoring world to catch up. The CX was almost without rival for sheer class and comfort when new – aside from Jaguar’s XJ6 perhaps. By the mid ‘Eighties, the market for large, luxurious cars had become a crowded one.


    It must be said, the CX doesn’t have the best of reputations. Not quite how you might expect though: The complex steering and suspension systems are pretty robust. The main issues are electrics and trim quality. Even when the cars were brand new, they had a reputation for being problematic when it came to electrical kit. Sometimes they would just not start for no apparent reason. Other times, electrical equipment would just be flaky. This wasn’t the sort of thing you could get away with on an executive car, and is perhaps one explanation why sales dropped off towards the end of production.

    These days, however, with most survivors in the hands of enthusiasts, such problems have largely been overcome. Troublesome cars are unlikely to have survived.

    It has often been said that if you drive a CX a few miles, you’ll hate it forever. Drive one a few hundred miles though, and you’ll never want anything else. The driving experience is so different that it really does take a long time to adjust. Once you’ve experienced the comfort, handling and ergonomics though, few things compare so well. The later Turbo 2 models, petrol or diesel, offer remarkable performance – though most CXs are capable of a decent pace.

    When buying, service history is certainly nice to have. The hydraulics may be robust, but only if service schedules have been adhered to. Similarly, the strong engines invite scrimping. They will tolerate a fair amount of abuse.

    Corrosion is the main concern though. Effectively, the CX has a separate chassis, made up of subframes front and rear, and longerons between the two. Rot here can be tricky to repair and often spreads into the floors. Sills are another weakness, and on saloons the sunroof – panel and aperture – is notorious for getting crispy with age. Water leaks from the windscreen only hasten the demise of the floor. Door bottoms also get crispy.

    In terms of the hydraulics, make sure the suspension rises swiftly and the steering feels consistent. Watch for the correct operation of the electric height control on the Series 2 models – it can jam and make a constant clicking noise.


    The best examples of the Citroën CX are now nudging towards £10,000 – possibly more if fresh from restoration or in perfect, original condition. GTi Turbos are sought-after, as are the diesels as most have been run into the ground. £4000-6000 gets you something pretty good, £2000-4000 may get you something low-spec but sound enough. It’s now pretty rare to find a half-decent runner for less than a grand. Projects can still be very cheap as restoration costs are high. However, specialist and club support is excellent.


    With thanks to: drive-my for its invaluable info in producing this feature

    Early Citroën CXs included the quirky rotating dial speedometer and rev counter gauges.

    The #1986 facelift removed the rotating dials in front of the driver, though the trademark Citroën single-spoke steering wheel remained.

    The Citroen-CX-Prestige is a saloon that has the same wheelbase as the lengthier estate models, as such there’s tons of room in the back for rear passengers.

    Facelifted CXs lost their metal bumpers, which were replaced by integrated, modernlooking plastic affairs.

    Who would’ve thought it would be possible to make an estate CX even longer? This is a factory-approved conversion by French coachbuilder Tissier.

    Early CX with chrome bumpers. Turbo – a word to gladden the heart of any CX enthusiast who’d like to get from A to B faster.
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