When thinking about all-wheel drive, the majority reference is usually Germany with the Audi Quattro system. However, the truth is that to tell its story we must necessarily turn to France. In fact, it is possibly in this country where more factors were concentrated to understand its appearance. First geographic. Given that Although France is a country with a dense urban network, it actually has millions of small farmers dedicated to the cultivation of their smallholdings.. And secondly political, due to the colonial presence in hard-to-reach territories such as Algeria.
Place that conditioned the birth of the 2CV Sahara with an engine on each axle, but also that of the Berliet T100 truck with its six-wheel drive. An interest in all-wheel drive that led to the emergence of companies dedicated to motor transformation such as Dangel or Sinpar. Specialized in Peugeot and Renault models respectively. Companies that caught the attention of large manufacturers, who They saw the possibility of reaching new market niches by offering 4 × 4 versions of their touring models. For this, Renault acquired Sinpar in 1980. After it signed models as efficient as the R12 Break 4 × 4, winner of the Rally Côte-Côte.
However, in the case of Citroën they decided to start on their own. Thus, at the end of the seventies, he presented a 4 × 4 version of the Mehari intended for industrial customers but also offered to the general public. An idea that, contrary to expectations, barely had a commercial impact. Setback that was not a problem for in 1988 the PSA Group presented two sedans equipped with four-wheel drive. The Peugeot 405 4 × 4 and the Citroën BX 4 × 4. Nowadays somewhat unknown but that, in the case of the one produced by Citroën, came to have up to 5% of the model's sales in France.
CITROËN BX 4X4. EXPANDING THE OFFER OF A SUCCESSFUL SALES
Manufactured for eleven years since 1982, the Citroën BX was one of the greatest successes in Citroën history. Designed to replace the GS, this sedan has the robustness and practicality necessary in any massive model. But with a design by Marcello Gandini that, together with the hydropneumatic suspensions, marks the points of daring and technological differentiation so defining Citroën. What's more, It was offered in a wide range of versions where up to eight engines were added. A panoply of variants in which we find specimens as special as the BX 4TC, necessary for approval in Group B.
A model that, despite not having achieved successes in the competition, is still much more famous than the Citroën BX 4 × 4. The version presented at the 1988 Paris Motor Show, offered in early 1989 in both fastback and station wagon bodywork. A model designed for the agricultural public that, despite the demands of their day to day, no longer satisfied with the more than austere 2CV and R4. Nevertheless, the equipment level of these Citroën BX 4 × 4 was the simplest of the entire range. Focusing efforts on motor qualities. Something that was worked even in terms of space, since despite the size of the transfer case, the passenger compartment is the same as in the models with front-wheel drive.
Defined as a permanent all-wheel drive, the Citroën BX 4 × 4 has differentials that in the case of the rear axle are limited-slip. All of them in charge of transmitting in a homogeneous way the force generated by a four-cylinder in-line engine and 1905cc capable of delivering 107CV in the gasoline version. Regarding the gearbox, it was modified to incorporate a very short first in the manner of off-road vehicles adapted to slopes and muddy tracks. March that is followed by four others with much longer relationships. All this supported on the everlasting hydropneumatic suspensions. Regulated here for greater lift and toughness.
THE SPORTS EVOLUTION OF TOTAL TRACTION
Although the Citroën BX 4 × 4 did not seem like a car with sports whims, the brand's managers thought that with an extra point it could become one. Something that they put into practice motivated by wanting to compete in the all-wheel drive sedan segment. So things, In 1989, the Citroën BX 4 × 4 GTI was launched based on the same 1-liter mechanics mounted on the normal 9 × 4 but boosting it up to 4CV. In fact, the same one that mounted the BX GTI with front-wheel drive, which had the advantage of a lower weight due to not having all the necessary mechanics to work with all-wheel drive.
Nonetheless, the Citroën BX 4 × 4 GTI was favored by excellent grip. Feature that made very pleasant and easy to drive even when forced into curves, where it continued to offer high doses of comfort to its passengers. Charms that, along with their sporty appearance, were not enough to prevail in the sector of the sedans with all-wheel drive. And is that, due to the rise of the sports family in the late eighties and early nineties, competitors such as the R21 Turbo Quadra reached 175CV.
A substantially different figure than the Citroën BX 4 × 4 GTI. Which remained in the brand's catalog until 1993 when it was withdrawn when the Xantia replaced the entire BX range. Unfortunately, the Xantia never had a 4 × 4 version for the street offered by the brand itself. And we underline the "For street" since Citroën itself manufactured a Xantia 4 × 4 for rallycross tests that started with 550CV. Drawn from the same 1-liter engine block fitted to the BX 9 × 4! A spectacular machine that, without a doubt, can be considered a tribute to the road opened by the 4 Citroën BX 4 × 4.
Photographs: Citroën Origins