Old Gold Top Gear: Citroën ZX

Sorry, sorry, sorry. The trip to Geneva has completely thrown me off course and Thursday has rolled around quicker than I’d expected. This means you’ve been forced to read two updates from PetrolBlog today, with the first Geneva Unconventional appearing earlier and now this, the regular Old Gold Top Gear slot.

I therefore hope to make up for the lack of scheduling on my part by keeping the waffle to a minimum.

The subject of this week’s Old Gold Top Gear is the Citroën ZX. Now I know I’m probably alone here, but I’m beginning to find the ZX quite desirable. In a dark colour and kept in immaculate condition, I think they cut a fine figure on today’s roads. They’re also robust little things, with mileages of 200k+ not uncommon. The diesel versions are ridiculously frugal and in the increasingly rare estate form, they’re highly practical.

Of course, it’s the Volcane that I find the most appealing and Mr Clarkson seems to share the same opinion. But in this video, he forgoes the chance to test the Volcane and instead heads out onto the wet French roads in the Aura.

Citroën ZX Volcane

This piece of old Top Gear footage is memorable for the sight of some delightfully old school French cars and Clarkson’s almost perfect Queen’s English presentation. He argues that the ZX’s ride and handling as “faultless” and describes the rear seats as “wacky”. Also look out for Top Gear’s summary at the end, which looks to me like it’s been done on PowerPoint.

Incidentally, I checked out the How Many Left? website to see how the four types of ZX have faired in the 21 years that have passed since this Top Gear first aired. Of the 17.5k ZXs left, there are 1,199 Reflex models, 3,604 Avantage models, 2,227 of the Aura, but only 646 Volcanes. This makes me sad. It’s a car that I’d love to own and I see one every day on the way into the office. Each day it looks increasingly tired and I want to save it from oblivion.

Oh, and just how good do the yellow fogs look on the Volcane in the video?!

Enjoy.

Thanks to celticmadliam for posting the video

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

32 comments

  1. March 8, 2012
    Simon Hingston

    O goodness is the ZX that long ago 🙁 Don’t think I’ve seen one for years. Then again I’ve not seen a 12 plate car yet either.

    Must get out more.

    Must win lottery to pay for petrol for above.

    Reply
    • March 8, 2012
      MajorGav

      Funny, there seems to be no shortage of ZXs in the south west. Not enough Volcanes though!

      Only seen two 12 plates. One was a MINI, the other was a pick-up.

      Reply
      • March 8, 2012
        Simon Hingston

        Just figured it out the salt on the roads here will have killed them. Simple but shocking.

        Reply
      • March 9, 2012
        Tom (@why_theory)

        Saw my first 12 plate today; 1 series.

        Great video, mines still a Rover 200 though.

        Reply
  2. March 8, 2012
    Dave Forber (@df_themaster)

    Mate, you forgot the ZX 16V — like the Volcane but a 2.0i 16v head, several more horses, body kit and go-faster goodness!

    Reply
    • March 8, 2012
      MajorGav

      Ha! Not forgotten, it just wasn’t part of the TG review. Didn’t the 16v come along a year later?

      The 16v is an underrated hero. Shockingly, there are only 27 left on the road now…

      Reply
  3. March 8, 2012
    Joseph

    Would like a Volcane – one of the first diesel hot hatches. The 2.0i is nice too, and the diesels seem to last forever. A million miles better than the Xsara and one of the very few Citroens (make that French cars) which I actually like.

    Reply
    • March 8, 2012
      MajorGav

      The diesel ZX could stake a claim for being one of the best Bangernomics cars for the current economic climate. Cheap to buy, cheap to maintain, cheap to run and for the most part, utterly reliable.

      *off to eBay*

      Reply
      • March 8, 2012
        Simon Hingston

        Blimey can’t find any 🙁 Precious few ZX’s full stop. Autotrader has 3 private ZX’s for sale. All too far away as would have been cheaper than repairing the Forester!

        Reply
        • March 8, 2012
          MajorGav

          I see what you mean!

          This is too far from you of course, but it has a lot going for it. Low mileage, one owner, white and from a desirable location. Perhaps a tad pricy, but worth it for the reassurance ofone owner. http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C284997 Tempting!

          Reply
  4. March 8, 2012
    Joe Simpson

    My dad ran two ZX’s – first an avantage hatch – one of the first in the UK, then an estate diesel. They were great, even though retrospectively they were dull, they bring back happy memories and though few people would believe me, over 7 years of ownership nothing went wrong with them. I can still remember begging him to buy a Volcane though when he bought the first avantage…

    Reply
    • March 8, 2012
      MajorGav

      I think the ZX broke the mould for Citroen, being conservative in its design, yet ultimately quite reliable.

      Strangely, despite the relatively healthy number of ZXs on the road, there are very few for sale. People obviously want to keep hold of them.

      Reply
  5. March 9, 2012
    aldoliddell

    This has given me a flashback to about 10 years ago, when looking for a banger chose a ’93 Orion Ghia 1.8 over a similar age Volcane. Looking back the ZX does seem the better choice, but as you know when you are dealing in cars worth hundreds you go by condition and the Orion was the better car. Wouldn’t mind a turbodiesel now though

    Reply
  6. March 9, 2012
    Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

    Feel sorry to say I contributed to the demise of at least one ZX, a white non-turbo 1.9D estate in “Leader” spec. Was my banger rally vehicle for a trip to Spain last year.

    With a car full of four people, spares, and luggage, it did about mid-40s on the motorway which wasn’t bad at all I thought. Handled nicely. Slow as merry hell but a nice, tough, (oil-swigging) engine.

    Ours was on its way out though. We’d got it free, which is some indicator of its condition, but it may well have been in a crash at some point judging by the steering geometry and the engine was consuming a litre of oil every couple of hundred miles. Had it not been virtually dead, I was seriously considering buying it for a few hundred quid.

    Reply
    • March 9, 2012
      MajorGav

      “Had it not been virtually dead, I was seriously considering buying it for a few hundred quid” – classic! 😉

      Reply
  7. March 9, 2012
    FailCar

    I have to admit when it comes to the ZX I’m not a huge fan. I am a huge fan of the underpinnings though which went into the 306 and gave us the much prettier 306 S16 and the later GTi-6 amoung others. I always thought the ZX looked a bit dumpy at the back. Love the pre “IN THE WOURRRLEED” Clarkson though. Big hair? Needed to lower his voice? Hatred of public sector workers? Him and Maggy Thatcher have much more in common than I realised.

    Reply
  8. March 9, 2012
    DB@0to60reviews

    Most people would think I’m mental when I say that the ZX seems pretty charming to me – I wouldn’t mind owning one now. Clarkson there in the good old days, when Top Gear actually reviewed cars…

    Reply
    • March 9, 2012
      MajorGav

      I must be mental too, as I agree with you!

      Reply
  9. March 9, 2012
    Simon

    I have a relationship with the ZX since its debut, I was working with Citroen when they first entered Ireland. The launch was an affair at Mondello with each of us getting 3 laps in each model, being young apprentices at the time we just went hell for leather comparing laptimes, good memories.

    Working on them over the next few years showed why there isn’t many left now, build quality was far from good its sister car, the 306 was far superior in both looks and build. That said I always liked the ZX, particularly the Volcane.

    I had the pleasure of working on a customers 16V for many years and it was a very smart car that stood out from the crowd not only because of its rarity but that thing really could shift. At the time I had a very tight 16V BX GTI and it had to work hard to keep up with it, eventually losing it on corners, driving a BX hard around corners is like driving a warm liquorice stick so not fair competition there.

    Anyway love the old Top Gear, proper car stuff on telly that! More please.

    Reply
    • March 9, 2012
      MajorGav

      Nice launch event!

      Shame there are so few 16v ZXs left now. Would love one. Volcane is on my list too though.

      Reply
  10. March 29, 2012
    Graham Roberts

    Still got my ZX 2.0i 16V. No longer my every day drive (replaced by a Alfa 147 2.0 Lusso which isn’t as much fun). 85,000 miles, doing nothing. Ideally would like it to go to a good home.

    Reply
    • March 29, 2012
      MajorGav

      Ooh, interesting. How much are you asking for it?

      Reply
      • March 29, 2012
        Graham Roberts

        I’d let it go for £500 to a good home as the MOT expires 13 May 12. Taxed until 31 Oct 12. I’d be happy to MOT it prior to sale but I’d add the cost of the MOT and any work needed onto the price. I think it’s worth more but I’d like it to go to someone who would appreciate it. It’s located on the Wirral, Merseyside.

        Reply
        • March 29, 2012
          MajorGav

          Good stuff. Any photos?

          I’ll ask around.

          Reply
          • March 29, 2012
            Graham Roberts

            Got some non-digital ones somewhere but would be happy to take some new digi pics if any one is interested (after I’ve given it a bit of a clean!) I’ve owned it since 1998 and it’s got a full service history. Any viewing/inspection welcome. Go on, you know you want it!

            Reply
  11. March 29, 2012
    Kerryman

    I love the ZX and was not swap my mine for all the tea in China. Paid £300
    for it four years ago and drive it daily from London to Souhampton six days a week. Am happy as a pig in shit!

    Reply
    • March 29, 2012
      MajorGav

      Result!

      Has much gone wrong over the years? How many miles has it done now?

      Reply
  12. April 3, 2012
    Aiman

    My late dad had a Volcane. It was a 1994, 2 liter 8 valve model.

    I’ll always remember it – partly because it was the first car I drove after I got my driver’s license, but more so because it was such a hoot to drive.

    Razor sharp steering and a shockingly good ride for a conventionally suspended Citroen. It went down roads with remarkable fluency. Build quality was horrendous though. Towards the end everything sort of fell apart. Good fun while it lasted though.

    Reply
    • April 3, 2012
      MajorGav

      That’s a glowing reference for the Volcane.

      “Towards the end everything sort of fell apart” – love this quote. 😉

      Reply
  13. July 15, 2012
    Jarek

    I had a ’94 Aura 1.8 automatic until several months ago – I loved it even though it was far from reliable. I wouldn’t blame it on the construction itself though – it had been seriously neglected by previous owners. What I loved about it was its comfort (uncomparable to my current ’97 Mazda 323P – I like it a lot and I expect much better reliability, but I still feel something’s missing) and it’s quiet but strong personality. A very friendly car, I might say. Very practical, too. I miss it. Fortunately, an elderly man with a flair for car mechanics bought it from me for pennies so I didn’t have to scrap it. I’ve heard he enjoys the ZX immensely.

    Reply
  14. December 24, 2015
    Jack

    Earlier this year I was given a 1.9l diesel aura. I love it, 1992 done 280k but it’s brilliant. So comfortable still needs a few minor repairs nothing huge though.

    Reply

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