CitroŽn AX - the anti 2 CV
le Double Chevron 86
The anti 2 CV
An automobile’s specifications might well be depicted by a typical "lonely heart’s ad”: “elegant, modern, streamlined bodywork seeks potent engine for tender moments and durable relationship”. In the past, the mention “integrity” used to be added. And there were even a certain number of stated compromises: “slight infirmity accepted”. Today such accommodations are definitely out and it is the “paragon” who is demanded. And this is what CitroŽn means when it places total quality at the top of its objectives. These days a potato masher is unsaleable unless it is built like Raquel Welch and has a Harvard degree. The AX is the result of these sweeping demands. The 2 CV is a tool like a plow. The AX belongs to the epoch of the electronic chip. The AX is an automobile prodigy; it is at the other end of the spectrum from the 2 CV, our faithful journeyman sidekick. So they do not compete with each other. Both were conceived by applying the same methods, one 50 years after the other. This included a complete study and analysis of what the public expects plus application of advanced technologies both in design and in production. It is hardly surprising that the same preliminaries lead to such dissimilar results. The secret of success is adapting to the environment. The most capable follow evolution closely. The very best anticipate it. The AX is the proof.
The BX’s little sister, the goddaughter of marketing and advanced research, a tough baby with its weight-power ratio, child economy champion, the AX is running up record after record.
Undisputed star of the Auto Show, the AX inspired a flood of plaudits from the international press, a reaction that many other auto builders would have liked to have received for their own new mode/5. The favourable reception by the specialists as well by the public and the myriads of orders promise a bright future for CitroŽn's latest car. It is true that two powerful wizards attended its birth: the marketing wizard and the advanced research wizard.
Years in advance, by meticulous studies and surveys, marketing explored the public's expectations in order to prepare a set of specifications to enable the new model to carve out a strong position on fast expanding market, the market of the small modern cars, smart and agile, which occupy sector B2 (sector Bl is the hardy simple multipurpose cars like the 2 C V). This sector B2 represents more than 25% of the European private automobile market. In 1985, it reached three million vehicles, including two million in the "three-door version” And that’s a lot!
A NEW CONCEPT
Scrupulously respecting the public’s wishes and needs, marketing did not hesitate to place the bar very high, demanding from the engineers and technicians, paradoxical configurations which were considered impossible until then : small outside dimensions-big inside dimensions, high performance-economy, lightweight-strength, etc.
To keep its promises, and it certainly does, the AX has profited from the fallout of the Eco 2000 project, an advanced research program for reducing small vehicle fuel consumption, by improving aerodynamics, reducing weight, optimizing engine design.
With this general orientation, the design work on the AX, conducted in harmony by several divisions of the company (marketing, design, methods, quality, then production, personnel, sales...), resulted in the creation of a CitroŽn of the new generation.
The AX is a kind of reasoned masterpiece which converges the contrary directions and exalts them, one after the other, into a coherent series of technical challenges, successfully taken up.
This is how this new automobile concept was created, a concept based on wit and daring and “Wit and daring" is the title of one of the best articles on the AX, by Christophe Bonnaud in the Auto-hebdo of September 17, 1986.
Also it should be noted that CitroŽn, in order to spread and differentiate the effect of its approach to the public, started by presenting not just one AX model, but a range of six "3 door” (supplemented at the reunion of 1987 by company car model and a sport model, based on three engines (954 cc, 1124 cc and 1360 cc), two transmission (four and five speed), four equipment configurations (E, RE, TR, TZ).
ALL THE RECORDS
It is customary to express the progress contributed by each new CitroŽn model in terms of number of years lead over the competition. This is not too reasonable. It is perhaps more useful to list all the measurable factors point by point. It then becomes clear that the AX beats almost all the record in its category.
Evidently this is due to the streamlined coachwork and the Cd goes down to 3.1 which is exceptional for a small car.
For fuel savings, lower weight is an essential factor, even more so than streamlining (mainly important at high speeds). The AX is lighter, 220 lbs lighter, than most of its competitors, a result obtained both by the choice of new lighter materials which are just as strong, and by the use of fabrication methods which differentiate the bodywork areas according to their function, thus reducing the number of parts and welds. With a weight to surface ratio of 68 lbs per 10 ft, the AX has already reached the structural weight evolution point predicted for the year 2000.
The weight savings have not been obtained at the expense of safety, definitely not; the head-on collision standard at 31 mph limits the shove-back of the steering wheel to 12.7 cm. On the AX, the shove-back distance is barely 4.5 cm.
The engines also deserved to be mentioned. They are highly efficient, which means that they are, at the same time, very potent, very economical and very sturdy.
Their power, together with the weight reductions obtained, provide the AX with a weight-power ratio which goes down to 10.7 kg/hp for the AX 14, a figure which is close to the 10 kg/hp which formerly was the prerogative of sports cars only.
All these factors participate in road holding qualities which, during the test, incited extravagant eulogies, as did the steering, the braking, the handling and the transmission.
In spite of its overall compactness (length 3.50 m, with 1.56 m), the AX provides passenger space which is often envied by its competitors. The very compact engine compartment gives it the best passenger surface in its category. Still, it was necessary to arrange this space. The AX contains no less than 18 storage volumes, each more ingenious than the other.
The car of records, the prodigy of its generation, the AX is also and above all an agreeable little front wheel drive saloon of 4/5 seats, 3 doors, brilliant, joyful, not thirsty, balanced, easy to live with, which will give good pleasure to its users.
To attain this objective, the highest performance, design and production facilities were brought into play, new methods and solutions were implemented
and an investment program of 5.5. billion francs was committed. You can't
|© 1986 le Double Chevron/2013 CitroŽnŽt