This TCR Legends car choice may have you thinking ‘what the hell’ but yes this is a great car and was more than worthy of the Hot Hatch moniker. I give you the Citroen AX GT:
For a car that was so great in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the tiny Citroen is perhaps not held in regard as highly as its competitors from the same era, for example the MK2 Golf GTi or the Peugeot 205 GTi , the mere mention of bring’s forward phrases such as ‘kings of hot hatches’. These cars are, quite rightly, held in high esteem and have at today’s money prices to match.
The much forgotten AX GT is so very rare these days that in the last years it has been documented that there are only around 50-55 examples still moving on British roads as of 2014.
Reviewers and owners alike will refer to AX GT’s build quality, or lack thereof. To be fair the build was pretty flimsy even for the 1980’s/1990’s when well every car was a bit flakey in the build department. The end result of this rather lightweight use of quality and materials was a kerbweight of 710kg, essentially making this little Citroen comparable to the weight of a Lotus Elise.
Contained within the 710kg mass was a carburetted 1.4 litre engine producing a mere 85bhp, you did read that right it was carburetted. At a time when the likes of Peugeot and Renault were going for fuel injection and turbocharging the little Citroen was old school. This power plant gave the AX GT a top speed of 112 mph, and a 0-60 mph time of 8.8 seconds. While this may not be setting the world alight numbers wise what it did do was make the car feel like it had an urgency about it, I used get an AX GT on loan from a Peugeot dealer where I would constantly take my sickly 309 GTi. I would come flying out of the dealership onto the A406 in this tiny AX GT and go for it using all of the 85bhp at my disposal. Get the little AX onto back roads and you were in heaven, just watch the lift off oversteer which I am sure killed many of these cars.
Also regarding my loan AX GT which was in my possession for many weeks, the build issue used to crop up every now and then an example of which would be the fuel gauge which decided when it wanted to work hence the only way to check the fuel level was to walk to the back of the car and rock it and listen for the fuel sloshing around. I kid you not.
Also I am aware of a story that when Citroen made the change for the AX of moving the wheel from the left to the correct side of the car for the UK, a large amount of the braking power was lost which may have resulted in changes that led to lift off oversteer or not.
A true classic underdog car for sure, small power but light and nimble and not afraid to play with the more powerful boys. It was just a great car then as it is now. If you ever sight one then please share the picture with the internet before they all die off.
Even a certain motoring writer/low rent film maker has owned one/may well still one in the form of Chris Harris.