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The Citroën Visa is a supermini that was produced by the French car marque Citroën from 1978 to 1988.
The Visa was the first new model under the platform-sharing policy of PSA Peugeot Citroën after the takeover of Citroën by Peugeot in the wake of the 1974 oil crisis — the earlier Citroën LNA was just a re-engine and facelift of the Peugeot 104 "Shortcut". The Visa used much of the same mechanics as the 104, although the Visa lacked the Peugeot's three-door hatchback option, being available only as a five-door hatchback. A light van sharing much with the Visa was also produced - the Citroën C15.
Mention any minor facelifts or major changes made to the vehicle here.
Styles and Major OptionsEdit
Initially the Visa was available in "Spécial" and "Club" models (652 cc, 2-cylinder), and a "Super" model (the 11RE after 1984), with the advanced Peugeot 1124 cc Douvrin engine / PSA X engine, a four-cylinder "Suitcase engine" — all aluminium alloy, chain driven overhead cam, with gearbox in the sump, sharing engine oil, mounted almost on its side. The 1124 cc was as economical as the Citroën 2CV-derived twin, but with much better performance. Later on it had 1219 cc and then 954 cc and 1360 cc versions of the same engine. In 1982 the Visa underwent a major external restyling, designed by Heuliez, to look more mainstream. It kept the original interior and "Satellite" controls until 1985 when, along with the Citroen BX, it was updated with a new bulkier dashboard, instruments and switchgear that made the car feel smaller inside. Stalk switchgear like contemporary Peugeots added self-cancelling indicators. It had very soft, but well damped, long travel, fully independent suspension (Coil-sprung MacPherson struts at the front, with coil sprung trailing arms at the rear) that caused it to have a soft ride like the Citroën 2CV, but without such extreme roll angles. Car magazine made the Visa diesel one of its top ten models on the market for two years running in the mid-1980s (January 1985 and 1986), for its versatility (higher models in the range had split rear seats which could be lifted-out to give an almost van-like luggage capacity); ride comfort ("like a limousine"); its ability to maintain high average speeds due to high levels of grip; and value for money. It was also particularly aerodynamically stable at high speeds for a relatively light, narrow and tall car. It would remain unperturbed by cross-winds and truck bow waves at motorway speeds. It also had (currently unfashionable), but practical, grey plastic side rubbing strips, to protect against car park damage. The front of the revised car, was designed to aerodynamically reduce the deposition of dirt on the headlights, and to reduce the risk of stone chips to the headlights, bonnet and windscreen. Long time Car magazine columnist, the late George Bishop, actually bought one with his own money. The Visa hatchback ceased production in 1988, and was replaced in the Citroen range by the smaller and less commodious 1987 five-door Citroen AX.
The 1985 Citroën C15 diesel van version of the Visa continued to be produced until 2005, (the petrols were phased out in the early 1990s), due to its practicality (able to load a standard pallet) and low running costs, even though the 1996 Citroen Berlingo was supposed to replace it. The C15 was also the basis of the successful Romahome camper van.
A four-door convertible version of the 11RE was also produced in the Heuliez factory from 1984. This was heavier and slower than the hatchback that it was based on.
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As seen on the FuelEconomy.gov website, the City/Highway MPG averages are as follows:
Engine and TransmissionEdit
High-performance versions of the Visa included the "Visa GT" (1.4 L with double-barrel carburettor and 80 hp (59 kW) DIN), the "Visa Chrono" (93 hp (68 kW) from the 1.4 L engine, this time with two double-barrel carbs). The Visa "Mille Pistes" (112 hp (82 kW) and four-wheel drive) was the rare production version of Citroen's successful (if unlikely looking) Visa rally car, the Visa Chrono and Chrono II.
From 1985, there was a 1.6 GTi, the Visa diesel and 1.4L TRS. The GTi used the 1.6 L fuel injected engine/transmission (105 or 115 hp (77 or 85 kW) versions), from the successful Pininfarina styled Peugeot 205 GTI. It received good reviews about its ride, performance and roadholding, but due to its older, five-door unsporting looks, - even with a much lower price than the 205, it was not a big seller.
The Visa 17D and 17RD used the class-leading 1769 cc XUD diesel and transmission from the Peugeot 205. It had too wide a track for the original engine compartment and wings, so the front wings were extended with large black plastic wheel arch panels. The spare wheel that in smaller petrol engine versions, was mounted on top of the flat or near horizontal engine, was bolted to the otherwise flat boot floor — compromising luggage space.
The Visa 14TRS which was produced for two years, shared its engine with the Citroen BX14, wasn't very successful because the BX was extremely competitively priced.
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The Visa's downsides were body corrosion (improved on later versions), a plasticky interior, and its styling. Almost every contemporary road test found the styling controversial. The Douvrin engine as used in the pre-1988 Peugeot 205 and Citroën BX 1.4L, meant that changing a clutch required that the engine / gearbox had to be removed first.
Twenty years after it ceased production, the large glass area, and the narrowness of the Visa with its tucked in door mirrors, with its ability to totally absorb large bumps, make the few remaining examples better adapted to the modern 'traffic calmed' urban environment, than most of the current generation of (more crashworthy) cars that are much wider and have very firm suspensions.
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Design quirks and odditiesEdit
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