No, said Jacques Wolkensinger, Citroën's PR director in Paris. The new Visa is not a Peugeot derivative like the LN. That was in 1978, four years earlier the Doppelwinkel brand had to merge with Peugeot, with fusion being the friendly description of a takeover.
Citroën had fallen into financial difficulties and Peugeot was now in charge. The frustration among the Citroën people was deep, the LN was a hastily born small car based on the Peugeot 104, which received the engine from the 2 CV in the base. For many Citroën customers it was a disappointment. It stood for poorly done badge engineering; round headlights and a single-spoke steering wheel alone were not enough to create an authentic Citroën feeling.
Everything should be better with the new Citroën Visa.
Is the Visa a real Citroën?
What Jacques Wolkensinger would have preferred to keep secret was the fact that the Visa was also based on the 104. This time Citroën had done everything right, the marriage of convenience brought the first successful product onto the market. The new small car filled the gap between the LN and GS and was recognizable at first glance as a legitimate offspring of the Parisian avant-garde.
The radiator grille and the sharply sloping hood as well as the covered rear wheel arches referenced the design of the larger models. What was new were the elastic bumpers integrated into the body, which could absorb even small bumps in Paris city traffic without causing damage. The design had already emerged in the pre-Peugeot era and had its origins in the prototype Y (Link), which was supposed to replace the 2 CV.
The Citroën engineers had improved the chassis. Firstly, in principle, because the Peugeot parts couldn't be good enough. Secondly, because you had a reputation to defend. The operation was successful, the Visa was considered an incredibly comfortable small car that had four doors and space for four people in an exterior length of just 3,69 cm. Amazing – and thanks to the innovative design.
Under the hood was either the two-cylinder boxer, which had received a new ignition system, or the in-line four-cylinder from Peugeot, which was initially only used in the Visa Super. After the engineers had dutifully completed their homework, they were allowed to let off steam in the interior.
Control satellites in the Citroën Visa
Because a Citroën is a Citroën and should be that way. In the cockpit, a control cylinder, which the press release also referred to as a satellite (which sounded much better), combined all the important functions. It controlled the windshield wipers, indicators, horn and lights and created a typical brand ambience. Anyone who knew the larger Citroën models could handle it. Anyone who tried it as a newbie learned quickly and thought the satellite was good.
The concept behind it was brilliant. Citroën called it the PRN satellite, where P stood for Pluie (rain), R for Route (road) and N for Nuit (night). All everyday functions should be accessible and operable in one place with a tap of a finger.
But the German motor press would work on it forever and ever impossible Criticize the service.
Nevertheless, journalists liked the Visa at its first presentation, for which Citroën had chosen Greece. They praised the sedan-like comfort, the long suspension travel and only found something to complain about in the two-cylinder engines. 652 cm³ displacement and 36 hp naturally struggled with the Citroën Visa, even if it only weighed 735 kilograms. And of course the Peugeot four-cylinder with 50 hp was much more refined and smoother than the boxer engine.
The verdict is that it looks like a Citroën, drives like one and is as idiosyncratic as you would expect. The first test was successfully completed.
The Visa small car was a balancing act for Citroën. He had to find his way between typical stubbornness and Peugeot corporate technology; the start was not easy. But he becomes a success. From 1978 and 88, 1.222.608 vehicles were produced, and by 2005 another 1.181.471 C15 panel van versions (Fourgonnette) were added.
In 1978, no one could have guessed that it would later get a diesel engine and that hot sports models would line its path. But that is also a completely different double angle story.