Every major auto show spawns a new entrant into the premium hatchback segment. Regardless of how off-kilter the European automotive market is, well-equipped city cars are finding more and more buyers each year. The concept is far from new, however.
Citroën, whose current premium offering consists of the two-year old DS line, gave the premium hatchback concept a shot in 1982 when it launched a limited edition of the Visa. Dubbed West End, it was based on the mid-range Super E model.
The Visa was designed to be as basic and affordable as possible, so giving it a high-end appearance was easier said than done. Citroën started by applying several coats of Delage, a shade of dark red that was widely used throughout the company’s lineup at the time. A white stripe that went down both sides of the car contrasted with the paint job and a black patch of paint under the windshield reduced glare from the sun.
13-inch three-lug alloy wheels pulled out of the Citroën parts bin and a white West End stickers placed on both fenders and on the trunk lid added a finishing touch to the car’s exterior appearance.
The Visa’s interior was also spruced up for the West End edition. The seats were upholstered in dark red vinyl and featured headrests while tinted windows all around protected occupants from UV light. Gray carpet and floor mats replaced the plastic lining that was found in base model Visas. A rear wiper and a transparent pop-up sunroof both came standard.
Citroën did not make any changes in the engine bay and the Visa West End used the same 1,124cc four-cylinder as the Super E. Linked to a four-speed manual transmission, it sent 49 horsepower and 61 lb-ft. of torque to the front wheels. The car had a top speed of 86 miles per hour.
Many claim that Citroën built 1,800 examples of the Visa West End but the company’s official records show that the actual number is precisely 1,000. The upmarket Visa was only sold in France and carried a base price of 44,800 francs, about 5,000 francs more than a regular Visa Super E.