CITROËN CX REVIEW

Technological showpiece, style legend: or both? Manufactured from 1974 to 1991, the Citroën CX is widely regarded among enthusiasts as being the last of the true Citroëns, as it was the last car designed before the firm was taken over by Peugeot.

The initials CX refer to the French initials for coefficient of drag, a hint at the huge aerodynamic leap the car had taken over its predecessors and competitors. In addition to the sleek new shape, the CX featured technological advancements that made it one of the most exciting cars of the era including hydro-pneumatic self-leveling suspension, speed-adjustable power steering and sub frame mounted suspension to reduce road noise. The suspension setup on the CX was derived from the DS and went on to be used successfully by Rolls-Royce on the Silver Shadow and Silver Spirit cars. 

VITAL STATISTICS

CITROËN CX

Engine                                    2347cc/8V/OHV

Power (bhp@rpm)                  115bhp@5500rpm 

Torque (lb ft@rpm)                 137ft lb@2750rpm

Top speed                                108mph

0-60mph                                  12.4sec

Consumption                           20mpg

Gearbox                                    5-speed manual

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

BODYWORK & CHASSIS
 

Early CXs will be more prone to rust than later models, decent rust proofing and higher quality paint was only added in 1980. Check the boot floor for damp, lift any carpets and give it a firm poke. If there is any rust or crustiness, walk away. Feel inside each of the arches for loose rust. Dirt collects easily and the arches will rust from the inside out. Check the bottom of each door, drain holes frequently clog and they tend to go here first. Look for bubbling at the corners of the sunroof; it is a good indication that the roof skin will be rotten.

ENGINE

Check that the service history is comprehensive and that there are no gaps. Providing the car has been well serviced, the engine should outlast the body. Check there is no clutch slip, particularly on manual and turbo versions, where the engine needs to be removed to replace the clutch. 2.5-litre petrol injection engines are prone to flywheel ignition sensor failure. If the rev counter doesn’t move on startup or the car struggles to start when hot, assume it needs to be replaced. Check that coolant has been used and not water, and ensure that there is no oil present. Look for ‘mayonnaise’ around the oil filler cap, walk away if there is any trace.

 

RUNNING GEAR

Complex hydraulic system can hide a myriad of problems. Check the hydraulic fluid, it should be mineral based and light green in colour. If it is red or brown walk away, it is probably contaminated with Dextron II, which will damage the system. Fire the car up and push down on each corner, there should be a good amount of give. If it feels very firm the shocks may need replacing. Hydraulic pumps can be a weakness. Allow the car to idle and check that the pump activates every 30 seconds or so. If it runs continuously or with more regularity it may suggest a leak in the system. Speed adjustable power steering is fairly reliable, but make sure you take a test drive through a variety of conditions. Check it doesn’t pull to the side under hard braking, CXs are notorious for high levels of front brake wear. Check the jacking points to make sure they’re solid.  

Check rear suspension mounts for rust, and feel under the rubber trim on the lower windscreen surround. If there’s any rust avoid the car.


INTERIOR

Dashboard lights tend to have a mind of their own, but make sure you check them when the car is running. 

It may be gremlins, but assume any warning lights are correct and take heed. Be especially wary of electrical problems in later cars with ABS, they have complex computer systems and problems can be expensive to track down. 

 

OUR VERDICT

The Citroën CX is to many enthusiasts the last ‘proper’ Citroën. Design is very of its time, and exceptionally modern looking for what is now an aging classic. 

As a statement of style you would be hard pressed to find something more unusual – very much in the Citroën and Saab vein – which now seems to have gone out of fashion. 

The ride is famously smooth, engines reliable, and interiors spacious and comfortable. On top of all this, it seems to be following in the footsteps of the DS and holding its value much better than similar cars of the period.

 If DS values are any indicator, it seems to be one to watch. If you have a minter we suggest you hold onto it, it’s sure to rise in value in the future. 

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