CITROËN BX Profile – A FRENCHMAN WITH CHARACTER
Whenever Citroën designed a new type of car, something unusual came out of it. This was the case with the “gangster” limousine 11 CV Traction Avant, the “goddess” DS 21 and the futuristic Maserati sprout SM. And so the new Citroën BX is sure to surprise.
Although the Italian tin artist Nuccio Bertone has made every effort to move away from the soft and flowing lines of the Citroën tradition, the BX has become a real child of his family: formally independent and equipped with that aesthetic appeal that makes it so difficult for lovers of this brand to switch to other companies. And despite its angular lines, the BX has remained a “typical” Citroën in terms of aerodynamics: The Cw-, or drag coefficient, of 0.33 speaks for itself.
And this slipperiness and the effort to lose weight (the BX weighs 900 kg) naturally results in spirited performance: Depending on the engine, the BX has a top speed of between 155 and 175 km/h. The three versions take 15.6 seconds (BX 14, 1.4 litres capacity/62 hp), 13.5 seconds (BX 14, 1.4 litres capacity/72 hp) and 11.5 seconds (BX 16, 1.6 litres capacity/90 hp) to reach the 100 km/h mark.
THE CITROËN BX BECOMES MORE EUROPEAN
You can be fast on the road in the Citroën BX. Especially since the techniques of the Quai André Citroën 133 in Paris have finally brought the suspension to the attention of the more “sporty” Europeans, who do not appreciate the comfortable, but simply too soft suspension of the earlier models. The Citroën BX has a tighter road-holding; it no longer shows the downright frightening cornering tendencies of its predecessors and thus provides more safety. This means that even the most spectacular combinations of bends can now be negotiated at astonishingly high speed, without the passenger having to worry – or feel dizzy.
In terms of looks and chassis, the Citroën BX has thus come a pleasing step closer to the competition, but at least in the design of the dashboard the development department has left enough room for individuality: like the range of its ancestors, this instrument set is also of remarkable “originality”. Thus, all switches and levers were concentrated in two not very clearly arranged – and also not glare-free – “satellites”, which are mounted on the left and right of the single-spoke control wheel. Although they can be easily reached here with the fingers, some of them – such as the horn – can also be operated unintentionally with the knee by taller people, for example. And Citroën has still not adopted the reasonable view that the indicator should be able to reset itself. But apart from this anachronism, the car pleases with comfortable seats with sufficient lateral support, a pleasing amount of space and attractive colours – inside and out. The reasonable basic equipment is also pleasing, which makes the Citroën BX an attractive car even in its basic version.
The spacious luggage compartment is also pleasant. It is easily accessible through a large tailgate and – in the case of the more expensive equipment – has a folding rear seat back which greatly increases the transportable volume (from 444 to 1455 litres). However, additional luggage transport on the roof is difficult to achieve because the aerodynamics engineers have deliberately dispensed with rain gutters – roof racks are difficult to attach.
Some of the older Citroën models have suffered from a certain tendency to rust. So it is no wonder that Citroën has taken special care with corrosion protection: An above-average amount of plastic – even the bonnet is made of this material – and hot-dip galvanised steel were used; a particularly careful treatment of the entire bodyshell and a cavity sealing by injecting a wax-based preservative are intended – in addition to a number of other measures – to ensure a flawless appearance in the long term.
REASON RETURNS IN THE CITROËN BX
“The development of the BX is the result of extensive marketing studies, on the basis of which Citroën has designed a vehicle that offers a balanced mediocrity of both purely aesthetic and practical aspects. The BX has personality and originality – both of which are not overstated – and enough character to make its Citroën pedigree discreetly apparent” – this excerpt from the press kit shows how the company would like to see its latest model: beautiful to look at, suitable for everyday use, more “normal” than its predecessors – and yet still a Citroën.
The task seems to have been well solved: the BX is the most “sensible” Citroën for years – sensible because it has become “more European”. Not so French soft anymore, with more practical details, with better rust care. Nevertheless, for the friend of the house, it still has enough attributes of its Gallic origins: with the hydro-pneumatic suspension, the high-pressure braking system, the idiosyncratic (and aerodynamic) bodywork, the playful dashboard.
From March the first Citroën BXs will be available at German dealerships – at prices starting at around 15,500 marks. Anyone who has the courage for the extraordinary should take a look at them – and test drive them.
The original version of this text was first published in March 1983 in the Vogue magazine number 3/1983.
Photos Citroën Communication / Georges Guyot, Duke of London
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