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Citroën GS-X2

Sporting version of Citroen’s now familiar GS gives all round gains in performance and a slight improvement in economy too compared with other GS models of the same engine capacity.

Just as comfortable and relaxing to ride in as ever and steady improvement in the area of gearchange and noise suppression has enhanced the appeal of the model. Good value in terms of appointments but rather slower in performance than its price rivals

IT HAS now become de rigeur for manufacturers to extend the marketing possibilities of each model that they produce by the development of numerous variations on the basic theme. In Citroen’s case, the GS range has been steadily expanded since its introduction in 1970 and now embraces three engine variations, three trim levels and an estate as well as the original saloon. For commercial users, there is even a van version as well. Latest version to be introduced to the UK is the GS-X2 which appeared in January 1975, joining the GS-X which was announced in October the previous year. The two cars are similar in respect of trim and outward appearance but the later GS-X2 has the 1,222 c.c. engine of the 1220 models in an uprated version. Thus to summarise the complete range and the engines that they use, the 1,015 c.c. engine producing 56 bhp is used in the G Special, the GS-X and the G Special Estate, the 1,222 c.c. engine producing 60 bhp is used in the GS Club, GS Pallas and GS Club Estate and finally, the 1,220 c.c. engine producing 65 bhp is used only in the GS-X2.
Thus, while the GS-X model has the appearance of a sporting car with its absence of wheel trims, high-back seats and additional driving lamps, it is in fact no quicker than other GS versions using the same engine, whereas the GS-X2 offers improved performance over the other 1220 models.
The extra power of the GS-X2 engine is gained by attention to carburation, camshafts and cylinder head, the latter including an increase in compression ratio from 8.2 to 8.7 to 1 without attracting the need to use fuel of a higher octane. To help cope with the increase of 5 bhp in the power output, the size of the crankshaft journals is increased. The revs at which the GS-X2 engine produces its maximum power are the same i.e. 5,750 rpm, but the changes to the bottom end of the engine allow higher engine speeds to be sustained and the engine’s recommended rev limit goes up from 6,250 to 6,400 rpm.
On a windy day at MIRA we were disappointed not to improve greatly on the figures given by the Citroen GS Pallas which was tested recently (13 December 1975). In 3rd gear, the GS-X2 improved by only three tenths of a second for the 20 mph increments from 20 to 60 mph but managed an improvement of nearly 1 sec in the time to accelerate from 50 to 70 mph. The extended rev range enabled it to reach 50 mph in 2nd gear, however, and this helped to knock a little off the acceleration time from rest to 50 mph. Top speed for the two cars was the same and down a little on Citroen’s claim for the car suggesting that the test car was a little below par.
However, if figures do not prove everything, the road behaviour certainly showed how the character of the GS is improved by even the limited extra performance. It is imperative that the gearchange be used often to get the full performance, but as the change is much improved over earlier GS examples, this is no longer a hardship. The willing unit revs freely and without too much noise although there is a trace of ‘flat four beat’ that betrays the design of the aluminium engine. There is little sign of camshaft drive wine and little induction noise, the only noisy culprit being the exhaust system.
In line with the more 'sporting image of the car, the GS-X2 has very comfortable high-backed seats with rather more wrapround than those found in other GS variants. The seats are upholstered in a fairly hard plastics material in place of the jersey-like material that other GS models use. Like the Pallas, the GS-X2 has a full instrument layout that includes a rev counter but only a warning light for low oil pressure. Proper round instruments with black lettering look out of place in a car of French heritage but they are appreciated for their clarity and neat appearance.

Above. Neat round instruments are clearly read, set in a matt finished aluminium panel; the single spoke steering wheel is now virtually a Citroen trade mark

Other identifying features of the car are to be found externally where the absence of nave plates gives a ‘sporting’ air as does the addition of a pair of long range driving lamps. These square units are in addition to the normal main beam and give improved long distance lighting. They are operated by pressing the lights switch in towards the steering wheel when the normal headlamps are already on main beam and are automatically cancelled when the headlamp switch is returned to the dipped beam position.
When returning to main beam again, the lights switch does not need to be pressed in again to bring the long range lights into operation. Like all Citroen GS models, the GS-X2 is supplied with a radiator muff for improved engine warm-up in cold weather but the long range driving lights get in the way when fitting or removing the muff.
With a little more performance to play with, the basic features of the GS design can be appreciated more than ever. The absence of nose dive under braking keeps the car stable when braking into a corner and the use of anti-roll bars at both ends of the car give roll resistance that is not a good inherent feature of Hydropneumatic suspension systems. Though a natural understeering car, the extra power does enable the nose of the GS-X2 to be tugged more effectively into corners and its cross-country performance is definitely better than any other GS that we have so far sampled.

Above. A plastic trim is used on the high-backed seats; there are useful map pockets on the sides of the cushions
Above left. A neat little GS-X2 badge distinguishes the model, as do the special wheels. The whole rear panel lifts to reveal the boot space
Below left. Access to the flat four engine is not particularly good although the spare wheel does not get in the way; note the "prop" jack in the spare wheel well
Below right. Rear seats are comfortable, with sufficient leg room. There is a huge shelf behind the rear seat squab

We have always been full of praise for the GS suspension which copes so admirably with surfaces of any type. As a higher performance version of the standard model, it follows that GS-X2 owners may want to press on whatever the surface and there is nothing the ride and handling that should in anyway deter. However rough or undulating the road, the long travel suspension soaks it up well with no sound to betray how hard it may be working. Only sudden sharp undulations catch the suspension out as the wheels do not droop fast enough to cushion the shock as the car drops. In this respect the GS is markedly better than the CX or DS Citroen models, however.
Only the over-sensitivity of the brakes is likely not to find favour with the enthusiastic driver. They work well enough and are not prone to fade but it is all too easy to over-brake when shaken around by a serious undulation in the braking area and it is very difficult to heel and toe smoothly as the increase in braking effort as one pivots on the pedal can be enough to bring the brakes on harder than intended.
At £2,079, the GS-X2 falls between the 1220 Club and Pallas models but is closer to the Club which sells for only £30 less. The increased performance and the potential gain in economy would seem to easily justify this extra cost especially since the improved instrumentation and lighting are thrown in too. All the same standards of comfort and finish are to be found in the GS-X2 and since on occasion, we were able to get consumption figures in the mid thirties, potential buyers of a GS would do well to consider this version in preference to the standard model.

Maximum speeds
Top (mean)
Top (best)
Overall mpg 29.0 (9.7 litres/100 km)
Engine: 4-cyl horizontally opposed ohc, 77 x 65.6 mm, 1,222 c.c., compression ratio 8.7 to 1, Solex twin choke carburettor, max. power 65 (DIN) bhp at 5,750 rpm, max. torque 67 lb. ft. at 3,250 rpm
Transmission: Front engine, front wheel drive, four speed all syncromesh gearbox, overall ratios 4.62, 6.27, 9.53, 15.76, rev 17.24. Top gear mph/1000 rpm 15.24
Suspension: Front, independent double wishbones Hydropneumatic interconnected with rear, anti roll bar. Rear, independent trailing arms Hydropneumatic interconnected with front, anti roll bar.
Brakes: Front discs (10.6 in. dia.), rear discs (7.0 in. dia.) hydraulic servo
Dimensions: Wheelbase 8ft 4in; front track 4ft 5in; rear track 4ft 4in; overall length 12ft 6in; overall width 5ft 3 in; height 4ft 6in; ground clearance 8in; turning circle 32ft 3in (between kerbs); unladen weight 2072 lb
Other details: Tyres 145 x 15 in Michelin ZX; fuel 9.5 gal; major service interval 3,000 miles; maximum payload 882 lb; boot capacity 16 cu. ft.
True mph Time secs Speedo mph Fuel steady mpg
Standing 1/4 mile: 20.0 sec 67 mph
Standing kilometre 37.7 sec 82 mph
© 1976 Autocar/2011 Citroënët