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  • Writer's pictureMatteo Licata

CX Prestige: Travelling First Class

Presented in September 1974, the Citroen CX is the last vehicle the French marque designed as an independent automaker. A replacement for the iconic DS, the CX was about evolution rather than revolution, building on the DS's strengths while taking advantage of 1970s technology to overcome its flaws.

The CX carried over the DS's hydropneumatic self-leveling suspensions but did away with its predecessor's labor-intensive body construction with unstressed bolt-on body panels. Its more traditional monocoque was integrated by a subframe that stretched front to back and supported much of the vehicle's running gear, mounted with twelve elastic attachments to further enhance refinement.

The engines came from the DS as well, but on the CX were mounted transversely for improved maintenance access and reduced noise and heat transmission to the cabin.

Like the GS before it, its appearance was strongly influenced by the famous BMC 1967 Pininfarina prototype for an aerodynamic saloon. In fact, CX is the acronym for the coefficient of air resistance, which amounted to 0.37 for Citroen's new flagship.

However, the CX's more compact dimensions compared to its predecessor made it a less than ideal chauffeur-driven car.

increased legroom, together with the sumptuous seating and, from 1977, a raised roofline, makes the CX Prestige a real pleasure to be driven in

The introduction of the CX Prestige in 1976 was Citroen's answer to those criticisms. It was the top of the line model, built on a 25 cm longer wheelbase it shared with the CX's wagon variant presented the same year. All this increased legroom, together with the sumptuous seating and, from 1977, a raised roofline, makes the CX Prestige a real pleasure to be driven in; I can definitely vouch for that!

Please be aware that not all long-wheelbase CX saloons are created equal: the Prestige nameplate only identifying the petrol cars. The diesel examples were called "Limousine" and were often not as nicely appointed as the Prestiges.

Although most Prestige models come with vinyl roofs, this feature wasn't standard on all the around 29.000 long-wheelbase saloons made. It merely was a frequently ordered factory option, and I can see why, as it complements the car very nicely.

The beautifully preserved, all-original survivor that shows in the video belongs to the restyled "CX 2" range, introduced in 1986 and easily recognizable by the color-keyed plastic bumpers and thick protective moldings on the sides.

I loved every second of my time with this beautiful French mistress

Coherently with the Prestige's role at the top of the range, this example is powered by the largest engine available for the CX: a 2.5 liters fuel-injected inline-four that's still a 100% Citroen design, whose origins stretch back two decades to 1965.

In this configuration, it produces a lazy 138 HP. A more powerful turbocharged version of this engine was available, but not in conjunction with the ZF 3-speed automatic gearbox this car has.

Hardly a rocketship, but, once comfortably seated on the wide, soft armchair at the back, you won't care what's under the hood, as long as it gets you where you want as smoothly as possible. And that's something in which the CX Prestige truly excels at.

Nowadays, Citroen enthusiasts are willing to pay substantial premiums for the Prestige's relative rarity and exclusivity, even though it's not something I'd personally do.

Mind you, I loved every second of my time with this beautiful French mistress, but I believe the Prestige is best enjoyed as a passenger, and I sadly can't afford to pay a full-time chauffeur to shuttle me around in such an exquisite piece of French style.

But if you're the one sitting behind the single-spoke steering wheel, a regular CX will feel and drive exactly the same, and I prefer the look of the short-wheelbase saloon.

The Prestige and Limousine models' production ended, together with their regular saloons brethren, in 1989 upon the XM's arrival on the scene, while the wagons were manufactured until 1991.


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