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Visa GTi

1985 test from Autocar

31 JULY 1985 AUTOCAR


FRENCH DRESSING

By delving into the PSA parts bin, Citroen has produced a worthy range-topping GTi. This new Visa is powered by the engine and transmission from the Peugeot 205GTi and is fitted with a full ‘sporty’ body kit. This takes the Visa into the hot hatchback sector - at a good price

FOR: ride, handling, value for money



AGAINST: refinement, luggage space


External modifications to the GTi include low profile Michelin MXV tyres on light alloy 5.5in wheels, a full body kit, blacked-out window surrounds and twin halogen headlamps.

Prior to the introduction of the new Visa GTi, top of this popular range had been the 1360cc-engined Visa GT and, more recently, the 14TRS, but neither packed the punch of the rivals. With the installation of the Peugeot 205GTi XUSJ engine and transmission in the Visa shell, however, the situation is likely to change. Citroen now has a worthy contender in this hotly-disputed hatchback sector.

It is not the first time that Citroen has taken advantage of its corporate links with Peugeot; the bigger-bodied BX 16 TRS also comes with XUSJ power, but in less muscular carburettored form. In the Visa GTi, output is 105bhp at 6250rpm and torque an impressive 99 lb ft at 4000rpm, identical to that of the Peugeot.

Theoretically, the on-paper figures would suggest that both cars have similar performance but we discovered this is not the case.

Citroen began with a similar bodyshell to that of the Visa Diesel which was redesigned to take the bigger engine and end-on transmission. As a result, the front track is increased and the engine, inclined at 30 deg, mounted directly to the body rather than via a separate sub-frame as in lesser Visas.

Instead, the subframe now carries the steering rack and transverse suspension links. MacPherson struts are used at the front along with coil springs, while the rear is hung via trailing arms, coil springs and vertical dampers, as before. Spring rates are up 40 per cent over the 14 TRS, though the car sits lower and benefits from roll bars fitted at both ends. The rear bar is now 16mm instead of 12mm. Stopping-power is improved by ventilated front discs but the rear drum arrangement with servo assistance is retained.

External modifications are fairly evident. The sports version gets low profile 185/60 X 13in Michelin MXVs on light alloy 5.5in wheels, plus a full body kit comprising roof-mounted spoiler, front air dam, wheel arch and sill extensions, plus a full colour keying job on Sunrise Red versions, while black (optional extra) and Pearl Grey versions come with plain grey plastic add-ons. All have blacked-out window surrounds and twin halogen headlamps.

Inside, there is a three-spoke sports wheel, distinctive two-tone grey cloth seats broken by red bands and similar door trim, plus full instrumentation with the neat and compact Peugeot 205 GTi display.

The Visa GTi package is competitively priced at £5899, which looks especially good value-for-money when compared to the more expensive, £6945 Peugeot 205GTi.

These cars share the same engine and gearbox ratios, with the exception of the final drive (3.93 Citroen compared to 4'.O6 Peugeot), yet the Citroen is considerably slower in sprinting ability and overall flexibility. The Citroen is 26lb heavier and has a worse drag coefficient (Cd 0.39 compared to Cd 0.34) than the Peugeot, but we would have hardly expected such differences in acceleration till upwards of 60mph, when aerodynamics begin to play a more important part.

In the Citroen’s favour is the smaller diameter of the tyres (13in Michelins as opposed to the Peugeot’s 14in Michelins) which ought to help standing start acceleration. In reality, however, it does not.

Leaving the line hard from rest produces the inevitable wheel-spin before traction takes over; a slightly lagging tachometer needle means that one has to be careful in first gear to avoid hitting the 6500 rev cut-out at 30mph. In second gear the rpm build-up is less frantic, the gauge can cope and the delightfully slick gearchange can be fully appreciated. At 53mph it is time to select third, passing 60mph in 9.7 seconds and on to 74mph. Fourth will take the car up to 94mph and fifth on to the maximum speed. We managed a mean of 109mph at 5950rpm and a best of 112mph at 6100rpm, slightly below peak power of 6250rpm from the overdrive ratio, but some way short of the manufacturer’s 117mph claim.

Compare these figures to the Peugeot’s 8.6sec 0-60mph, 29.5sec to 0-100mph and maximum speed of 116mph and the Visa GTi performance seems lacking. Compare this with other opposition, though, and suddenly the Citroen falls in line with the performance of the Fiesta XR2, Honda Civic GT and MG Metro Turbo.

Economy is just below average for a car in this class and our overall figure of 28.8mpg, recorded over the 797-mile test period reflects a fair degree of hard driving with a worst interim brim of 26.7mpg. At the other extreme, we managed 31.0mpg wihout trying too hard. A more restrained driver should see much better figures than these and, with a tank capacity of 9.4 gallons, a realistic range of 260 miles per tankful looks possible.

Refinement is not a strong point of the Visa GTi. Somehow, even with the Peugeot engine installation, the car still retains its characteristic sewing-machine rattle which becomes quite a loud thrashing at speed. Starting from cold is always at the first turn of the key and, with the oil cold in the block, engine noise control is improved, until the characteristic tappet rattle returns as the engine warms up. The Peugeot 205GTi, however, is particularly throttle-responsive, often leading to jerky round-town progress; the Visa GTi is less severe and much smoother in response.

For a car with fairly prominent window surrounds and seals, wind noise is well isolated when travelling at speed, which has the effect of accentuating engine noise further and on a motorway, long journeys can become especially tiring. Tyre roar is also noticeable on coarse road surfaces although largely over-ridden by the engine note.

The Visa GTi’s greatest attributes are its ride and handling, both a cut above the norm. Considering the fact that low profile tyres are fitted along with much tauter suspension, bump absorption of the well-cushioned ride is even more impressive. Similarly, the balanced handling is aided by the quick and responsive rack and pinion steering which also possesses good feel. Throw the Visa GTi into a corner at speed and the results are confidence-inspiring. Slight understeer changes to a neutral attitude, the car has great poise, roll is well limited and any correction needed is easy with such responsive steering.

Lifting off mid-corner will induce some tuck-in, though this is no worse than the Peugeot 205GTi and certainly less pronounced than some of the small turbo cars. The level of grip afforded by the Michelins is high and the Visa GTi will stick to a chosen line on all but the most severely broken surfaces — and with a good deal of comfort.

Unlike with certain other Citroens, a driver unaccustomed to their idiosyncracies is unlikely to stand the car on its nose at the first stab of the brake pedal. Citroen has built in plenty of travel. The pedal itself has a dead feel, though this does not take long to adjust to. The servo-assisted system came through our brake response tests well and produced a maximum 0.96g retardation figure for a near ideal 50lb pedal effort. Similarly, the fade tests served to highlight that the brakes have little difficulty in coping with repeated application at high speed.

Inside the Visa GTi one is immediately aware of the rather garish trim with thick red stripes sewn in between two-tone grey cloth on seats and door trims. The material itself is not that comfortable either; one tester likened it to an old blanket. Once seated, however, one is also aware of improved support and firmer construction which we found comfortable.

The wheel, pedal and gear-change relationship is good, but more legroom would be an advantage. Forward visibility is difficult to fault thanks to the large screen, sloping bonnet line and single wiper, which parks on the passenger side.

Flanking the thick-rimmed wheel are unconventional — by Citroen standards — instrument stalks, one either side. These are an improvement over the usual Visa satellite switchgear and can be reached without lifting the hands from the wheel. Full instrumentation including rev counter, oil pressure gauge and temperature gauges for both oil and water is provided directly ahead of the driver in the neat instrument binnacle.

We would have preferred more oddment space than the shallow door pockets. There is no glove box, just a narrow slot above, but at least some extra space is provided by an under-facia shelf. Valuable load space is also limited-by resiting the spare wheel— normally fitted on top of the engine — on the load compartment floor due to lack of underbonnet area.

In some areas we were more than impressed with the Visa GTi, notably in road behaviour and to a lesser degree performance, which is still good, even if overshadowed by the remarkable Peugeot 205GTi. On the other hand, the car is far too noisy and we suspect that even a really enthusiastic driver might grow tired of the constant underbonnet din. All things considered the Visa GTi still has plenty in its favour: it offers increased versatility through the five-door arrangement, possesses the very driver appeal which has made this sector of the market so popular and is also very competitively priced.



Above throw the GTi into a comer at speed with confidence-inspiring results
Below the engine is the Peugeot 205GTi XU5l unit, which produces 105hhp at 6250rpm and 99lb ft of torque at 4000rpm
Above good instrumentation includes rev counter, oil pressure gauge and temperature gauges for both oil and water. .
Below luggage space is lost with the spare wheel resited on the load floor through lack of underbonnet space

SPECIFICATION

ENGINE

Transverse front, front-wheel drive.
Head/block Al. alloy/al. alloy
4 cylinders in line, wet liners, 5 main bearings. Water cooled, electric fan
Bore 83mm (3.32 in), stroke  73mm (2.87 in), capacity 1580cc (96.5 cu in).
Valve gear ohc, 2 valves per cylinder, toothed belt camshaft drive.
Compression ratio 9.8 to 1
Breakerless electronic ignition, Bosch LE2 Jetronic fuel injection
Max. power 105bhp (PS-DIN) (77kw ISO) at 6250 rpm. Max. torque 99 lb ft at 4000 rpm

TRANSMISSION




5-speed manual.  Single dry plate diaphragm spring clutch 7.9 in dia.

Gear

Ratio mph/1000 rpm

Top

0.865 18.33

4th

1.069 14.82

3rd

1.360 11.65

2nd

1.882 8.41

1st

3.308 4.78

Final drive: Hypoid bevel, 3.937:1


SUSPENSION

Front independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar
Rear independent, trailing arms, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar

STEERING

Rack and pinion. Steering wheel diameter 14.6in, 3.3 turns lock to lock

BRAKES

Dual circuits, split front/rear. Front 9.7in (247mm) via discs.  Rear 7in (180mm) via drums. Vacuum servo. Handbrake, centre lever acting on rear drums

WHEELS

Aluminium alloy, 51/2in rims. Low profile radial ply tyres (Michelin MXV on test car), size 185/60 T13in, pressures F29 R29 psi

EQUIPMENT

Battery  12V, 29Ah, Alternator 50A. Headlamps 110W. Reversing lamp standard. 7 electric fuses. 2 speed plus intermittent screen wipers. Electric screen washer. Air-blending interior heater. Cloth seats, pvc headlining. Carpet floor covering. Scissor jack: 2 jacking points each side. Laminated windscreen.

WEIGHT

Kerb 18.0cwt/2013lb/911kg
(Distribution F/R, 62.1/37.9)
Test 21.5cwt/2470lb/1089kg
Max payload 751lb/340kg


COSTS

£

Prices


Basic

4735.00

Special Car Tax

394.58

VAT

769.44

Total (in GB)

5899.02

Licence

100.00

Delivery charge (London)

138.00

Number plates

15.00

Total on the Road (excluding insurance)

6152.02

Insurance group

six

EXTRAS (inc VAT)


Tinted windows

113.57

* Central door locking/electric front windows

179.40

Glass sunroof

166.95

Black superlustre paint

59.80

* fitted to test car


Total as tested on the road

6331.42

SERVICE AND PARTS


Interval

Change

6000

12,000

18,000

Engine oil

Yes

Yes

Yes

Oil filter

No

Yes

No

Gearbox oil

No

No

No

Spark plugs

No

Yes

No

Air cleaner

No

Yes

No

C/breaker

No

No

No

Total cost

£15.49

£68.86

£15.49

(Assuming labour at £16.10 an hour inc VAT



PERFORMANCE


MAXIMUM SPEEDS





Gear


mph

kph

rpm

OD Top

(Mean)

109

175

5950


(Best)

112

180

6100

4th


95

153

6500

3rd


74

119

6500

2nd


53

85

6500

1st


31

50

6500

ACCELERATION
FROM REST





True mph

Time
(sec)

Speedo
(mph)



30

3.2

32



40

5.0

42



50

7.0

53



60

9.7

62



70

13.0

74



80

17.9

83



90

24.8

91



100

41.6

103



Standing 1/4 mile: 17.4sec, 77 mph
Standing km: 32.6sec, 94 mph

TEST CONDITIONS

Wind

12 mph

Temperature

15deg C (59deg F)

Barometer

29.2in Hg (991mbar)

Humidity

83 per cent

Surface

damp/dry asphalt and concrete

Test distance

797 miles

Figures taken at 1252 miles by our own staff at the Motor Industry Research Association proving ground at Nuneaton.

IN EACH GEAR





mph

Top

4th

3rd

2nd

10-30

12.3

7.9

6.0

4.0

20-40

10.0

7.3

5.6

3.8

30-50

10.0

7.4

5.7

4.3

40-60

10.5

7.7

6.1

-

50-70

11.6

8.4

7.1

-

60-80

14.5

9.9

-

-

70-90

18.7

13.0

-

-

CONSUMPTION





FUEL





Overall mpg: 28.8 (9.8 litres/100km) 6.3 mpl
Autocar constant speed fuel consumption measuring equipment incompatible with fuel injection

Autocar formula driving and conditions

Hard

25.9mpg

Average

31.6mpg


Gentle

37.4mpg

Grade of fuel

Premium, 4-star (97 RM)

Fuel tank

9.5 imp galls (43 litres)

Mileage recorder

1.3 per cent long

Oil

SAE 10W/40) negligible

BRAKING





Fade (from 77mph in neutral)
Pedal load for 0.5g stops in lb

start/end


start/end


1

35-35

6

50-45

2

35-40

7

50-55

3

35-38

8

50-55

4

40-40

9

50-57

5

40-40

10

50-50

Response (from 30mph in neutral)

Load

g

Distance

10lb

0.15

201ft

20lb

0.25

120ft

30lb

0.45

68ft

40lb

0.60

50ft

50lb

0.96

31.3ft

Handbrake

0.28

107ft

Max gradient

1 in 3


CLUTCH

Pedal 30lb; Travel 5 1/2in


WARRANTY
12 months/unlimited mileage, 6 year anti-corrosion

PRODUCED BY:
Automobiles Citroen,
62 Boulevard Victor Hugo,
92208 Neuilly sur Seine
France

SOLD IN THE UK BY:
Citroen Cars Ltd.
Mill Street
Slough, Berkshire SL2 5DE

EQUIPMENT






Ammeter/Voltmeter

N/A

Rear seat belts

Extra cost option

Child proof locks

Standard

Automatic

N/A

Seat back recline

Standard

Fog lamps

Extra cost option

Cruise control

N/A

Seat cushion tilt

N/A

Inernal boot release

N/A

Economy gauge

N/A

Seat tilt

N/A

Luggage cover

Standard

Electronic ignition

Standard

Split rear seats

Standard

Metallic paint

Extra cost option

Five speed

Standard

Door mirror remote control

Standard

Rdio/cassette

Extra cost option

Rev counter

Standard

Heated rear window

Standard

Speakers

Standard

Headrests front

Standard

Interior adjustable headlamps

Standard

Aerial

Standard

Height adjustment

N/A

Tailgate wash/wipe

Standard



Lumbar adjustment

N/A

Alloy wheels

Standard









© 1985 Autocar/2013 CitroŽnŽt - thanks to Richard Needham