The Nomenclature

To find the meaning of the model name BX we have to look into the past. The legendary CX received its name from the French expression for the coefficient of drag (cx), stressing its outstanding and then-unparalleled aerodynamics. When the successor of the GS/GSA was launched (which in turn got its name after its predecessor, the first—and the most famous—Citroën with hydropneumatics, the DS, pronounced and meaning Déesse, that is Goddess in French; although there was another model inbetween, the ID, pronounced and meaning Idée, that is Idea in French), the X remained and the first letter was decremented to suggest a lower category.

The same logic was applied later to the AX, the smallest category of Citroëns. For the sake of completeness: the original small Citroën, the Duck was named 2CV meaning Deux Chevaux or Two Horses—CV (originally Chevaux Vapeur or Steam Horses) values are the fiscal categories of vehicles in France based on horse power, number of gears and several other factors, governing taxes and insurance fees.

Citroën retained the letter X in the later model names as well: ZX (with the obvious meaning of the letter Z as the last of the alphabet), XM (referencing the sporty SM, Série Maserati using a Maserati engine), Saxo (note the AX in the middle), Xantia (from a Hellenic word meaning beautiful) and Xsara.

There are numerous model variants of the BX. Basically, three petrol engines (1360, 1580 [with two major variants] and 1905 ccm [three major variants]) and three diesel engines (1769 ccm atmospheric and turbo, and 1905 ccm) were available. Most models came in both Berline (Hatchback) and Break (Estate) versions. The following table gives you a quick overlook of the major models (in reality there were more than 300 subvariants including special editions).

Date BX, BX 14
(1360 ccm)
BX 16
(1580 ccm)
BX 19
(1905 ccm)
BX Diesel
(1769/1905 ccm)
October 1982 E, RE RS, TRS    
September 1983       19 D, RD
March 1984        
October 1984 Leader Break/Estate GT    
July 1985         17 D, RD
August 1986     TRS, TRI GTi  
July 1987       GTi 16V  
February 1988         TRD, turbo
Summer 1989 TE, TGE TGS, TZS TZS 4x4 TGD, TZD
March 1990     TZi    
Late 1992   TXi      

The first 1360 ccm variant of BX was named simply the BX but as the palette of different engines and trim levels became wider, Citroën introduced a more complex naming scheme (partly used on CX models as well):


The number in the middle represents the engine displacement (14=1360 ccm, 15/16=1580 ccm, 17=1769 ccm, 19=1905 ccm; there were a few BX 10 and 11 models manufactured but in a very small quantity). The letters at the end have the following meaning:

Trim levels

(from 1989)
  Basic trim level*
R Riche
Second trim level: split rear seat, rear window washer/wiper.*
(from 1989)
Très Riche
Very Rich
Middle trim level: two/four electric windows, tweed seats, plastic C-pillar window, etc.*
TX (UK only) Extra High trim level: electric front windows and sunroof, split rear seat, velour upholstery, etc.*
TZ Last letter of alphabet Highest trim level: four electric windows and mirrors, velour upholstery, front foglights, remote controlled central locking, etc.*
* As there are much more optional accessories than designated trim levels, Citroën did not always use them consequently. Some models may have more or less gadgets than shown in the table.
Engine variations
E Économique
Denotes the smaller, 1360 ccm engine. Also used to denote the detuned 1580 ccm engine.
S Sportive
Denotes the stronger, 1580 ccm engine.
GT Gran Turismo Denotes the strongest, 1905 ccm engine.
I Fuel injected Denotes all fuel injected petrol engines.
D Diesel Denotes all diesel engines. Turbo diesels carry the word turbo on the badge.

The different model names were composed of these letters. Names like BX 14 E/TE, 14 RE, 14 TRE/TGE and 14 TZE speak for themselves. With the introduction of fuel injection in 1360 ccm engines, however, Citroën changed the naming scheme slightly: these models were badged BX 14i, 14i TE or 14i TGE (although 14 I, 14 TI or 14 TGI would have been more consistent).

The middle engine variant started as BX 16 RS and 16 TRS but later the spectrum was enlarged in both directions: 16 S, 16 TS, 16 TGS and 16 TZS. The fuel injected models were called BX 16 TRI, 16 TGI and 16 TZI. The BX 16 TXS and 16 TXI models were sold in the United Kingdom only. The original engine was later detuned to give less power. To differentiate this from the original version, these models borrowed the E descriptor of the smaller engines: BX 16 RE (in some markets: 15 RE, 15 TRE and 15 TGE). A fuel injected, stronger version was also manufactured as 16 GTi, sold in some markets.

The biggest, 1905 ccm engine arrived at the top of the palette as BX 19 GT—using a different naming convention than the previous trim-engine combinations but adhering to the long tradition of car manufacturers to baptize their strongest models with the name Gran Turismo. However, as the new fuel injected top engine (GTi) arrived in 1986, Citroën decided to return to the standard naming with the other 19 models: BX 19 TRS, 19 TGS (carburettor) and 19 TRI (fuel injected). At the highest trim level they were badged 19 TZS and 19 TZI (in fact, GTi and TRI/TZI models were practically the same as far as the engine was concerned, the difference was mainly in the sporty, stiffer suspension of the GTi models as well as some differences in the trim). As customary, models with bigger engines came at a higher trim level as standard, thus BX 19 S/TS/RS models were never manufactured, however, a 19 RI was sold in Austria. The GTi kept its unique name with the introduction of the 16-valve engine, too, as GTi 16v.

The diesel models used the same naming conventions: D, TD and RD for lower trim levels, TRD (DTR in the UK, apparently to avoid the rather unpleasant similarity with the word turd) and TGD for the higher ones, with TZD on the top, and the word turbo added on turbo diesel cars. The letter X was also used in England: BX 17 TXD turbo.

Many special and limited edition models were produced, each having an additional name like Athena, Cannes, Classic, Digit, Elegance, Halley, Hurricane, Image, Leader, Millesime, Pallas, Prestige, Preview, Selection, Sport, Tecnic and many more. Some of them were not that limited at all: some 16,000 Leaders were produced, 7,500 of Sport (a double twin-carburettor high performance version) were manufactured, and Millesime, Image, Prestige all included several model variants during their years of production.