Wednesday, May 27, 2020

European hatchbacks: third in a series.

Welcome back to France! After a quick trip across the channel in the previous Euro hatchback post we've returned to take a look at the Renault Clio and Citroen AX econoboxes and their hot hatch variants that were not available in the North American market.
European econoboxes and hot hatches.

The Renault Clio was introduced in 1990 to replace the successful but aging Renault 5.
In 1993 the basic model was powered by a 60hp 1.2l eight valve inline four cylinder engine driving the front wheels to a top speed was 155kph (96mph). From a standing start 15.2 seconds would pass before the speedometer would read 100kph.

Renault Clio. Photo from
1993 saw the introduction of the Renault Clio Williams. Named to celebrate the Williams Formula 1 cars sporting Renault engines this upgraded Clio housed a 2.0l, sixteen valve, DOHC, I4 powerplant in its engine bay. Although a far cry from the 3.5l V-10 found in the F1 car it still more than doubled the horsepower of the base model. It's 150hp powered the little rocket to a top speed of 215kph (134mph) while reaching 100kph in 7.8 seconds, almost exactly half the time taken by the base model. Some of the differences between the base version and the Williams include wider Speedline alloys, uprated (JC5) gearbox, bespoke four-to-one manifold, firmer suspension, and cosmetic differences on the exterior and interior.

The Williams edition was designed to allow the marque’s motorsport department to go rallying. It's initial run of 3800 units sold out quickly so another 1600 were produced. Because the demand was so high at total of 12000 were eventually built, the last 6600 being in the series 2 and 3 versions of the Clio. The Williams proved to be a successful track car in its day which resulted in a very high proportion of them ending up as race cars. Relatively few are left as road cars. Oh, and you could have the Williams in any color you wanted, as long as it was blue!

Renault Clio Williams. Photo from

Next on our tour of France we take a look at the Citroen AX. First available in Europe in 1986 it was updated in 1991 and it's that version we'll focus on in this post. The econobox edition of the AX was motivated by a 1.0l, eight valve four cylinder engine. Its 50 horsepower output was enough to propel this light weight hatch (it only weighed about 800kg) to 100kph in 14.6 seconds while reaching a top speed of 149kph (93 mph) putting it in a three way tie for the second slowest in the group of cars we're featuring in this series. Only the base Ford Fiesta Mk3 was slower at 143kph (89mph).

1991 Citroen AX

To spice things up a bit Citroen popped a 1.4l eight valve fuel injected four cylinder under the bonnet and named the upgraded variant the AX GTI. Output was doubled to 100 horsepower, 0-100kph was reached in 8.7 seconds and top speed was increased to 190kph (118 mph). Exterior upgrades included wider 13" tires on stylish alloy wheels and a spoiler mounted on the hatch, much like the one on the Ford Festiva GL Sport of the same vintage.

Citroen AX GTI Photo from

Follow these links for more on the cars featured in this week's post:
What are your favorite econoboxes, or hot hatches, from this era? Leave a comment below and come back in a couple of weeks for part 4 of the Euro hatch series when we head to Italy and points further afield. Next week... memories of a first car!

No comments:

Post a Comment