Citroen BX GTI: Spotted

Just as every 1980s children's cartoon superhero must have his sidekick, so every 1980s halo-model hot hatch must have a less powerful, more accessible equivalent: a 1.6 to the top-of-the range 1.9; a naturally-aspirated version of the turbo - or indeed, an 8v to the 16v.

So it goes in the case of this Citroen BX GTI - you're looking here at a bona fide sidekick. And that's rather appealing, to be honest, as more often than not it's the lesser models that get overlooked in favour of the faster, more honed, and more special stars of the show.

Evidence of that comes in the fact that prices of BX GTI 16vs are starting to creep inexorably upwards - though they still come up for sale, while rarely, with greater frequency than eight-valve GTIs. Or at least, eight-valve GTIs as clean as this one.

So what's the big deal? Well, under the bonnet sits the same XU9 engine as you'll find in a Peugeot 205 GTI. Actually, that oft-espoused fact is not quite true - the BX uses a 'J2' version of the engine with 123hp compared with the 128hp 'JA' variant found in the 205. So it's not as quick, a fact you'd probably already gathered from the larger body - albeit one with its weight mitigated by the considerable use of composite body panels.

0-60mph takes 8.1 seconds, mind you, which is brisk enough to be entertaining, and the GTI feels it thanks to a useful wodge of low-down torque, a willingness to rev and a rasping engine note. It's pretty good fun in the corners, too; there's a considerable proclivity for body roll - the payoff for the softer suspension which allows the BX to float over mid-corner bumps without being knocked off its line - but that is combined with a remarkably tenacious front end and the ability to provoke gentle, predictable oversteer with a mid-corner lift.

This example looks remarkably original - even if the wheel trims aren't quite right for the car - and it's rare to happen upon an early example like this one without the front chin spoiler and smoked rear lights. The mileage is distinctly reasonable, too, and the dashboard doesn't appear to be cracked either. If the seller's description is to be believed, it's also had four recent new spheres - always extremely handy - and comes with a decent amount of MOT, too.

True, the seat covers look rather baggy, but that's a common problem on these older GTIs to do with the metal cross-bracing in the seat base popping out. In short, it's easy for someone with the right know-how to sort out, just as long as the fabric itself hasn't worn through or faded. But there's little else to be concerned about here. So why hasn't it sold yet? After all, it's been for sale for a few months now.

The price may have something to do with it. It seems people simply aren't quite ready yet to spend that sum on a non-16v BX - especially one that looks barely any different to a bog-standard diesel. It wasn't all that long ago that a decent GTI could be had for well below £1,000, which makes the £2,000 being asked for this one feel a little steep.

But that may be short-sighted. The upward creep of 16v prices means that, whether now or in the near future, this GTI will be worth the money it's up for. And let's face it - this is a car which has lots in common with a 205 1.9 GTI - a halo model in its own right - yet costs a tenth of the price. Sometimes, buying the sidekick makes sense.


Engine: 1,905cc, 4-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 125@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 129@4,500rpm
MPG: 36
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1987
Recorded mileage: 92,000
Price new: £10,994
Price now: £1,995

See the full advert here.



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Comments (43) Join the discussion on the forum

  • aaron_2000 17 Feb 2018

    To think just how many were ripped apart to put the engine in the 205.

  • georgezippy 17 Feb 2018

    A mate and I scrapped one of these back in 2002, it had a blown head gasket. It meant my scabby BX estate (I bought for £50) got a nice shiny interior. He fixed his crash damaged BX with other bits. Between us we had about 5 of the things, great shed motoring, the 1.9 was a fun nippy thing. Can't remember when I last saw one on the road.

  • mooseracer 17 Feb 2018

    aaron_2000 said:
    To think just how many were ripped apart to put the engine in the 205.
    Surely it was the 16v's that suffered that fate?

  • Hub 17 Feb 2018

    They don't look very gti-like do they? - apart from the badge on the rear pillar you wouldn't know.

    I think it would have to be a 16v for me!

    Performance isn't bad for the power - they were always lightweight flimsy plastic-y things though! Don't crash it - I saw the outcome of a BX crash back in the 90s and it wasn't pretty.

  • sandysinclair 17 Feb 2018

    Had a white one with a brown interior , the bonnet was made out of awful plastic which yellowed in the sun, the clutch broke, the gearbox broke , the electric windows had a mind of their own and would randomly go up and down of their own accord, the front sub-frame cracked and the rear driverside door dropped down to the pavement after opening it whilst at the cornershop as the hinges gave way. The central locking would unlock and lock itself but that's ok as the door locks would pop off so passenger door exit would be required. Sometimes the hatchback boot would not open usually when it was full of shopping so that had to be removed by lowering the rear seats . Went through 4 batteries in 18 months as there was unknown electrical drawdown. I could go on. . A truely hateful hateful loathsome car

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