Archive for citroen

Hydractive suspension – some anecdotes

Posted in Car conception, Desirable machines with tags , , on 13/06/2016 by Alexander

Hydractive was the fancy marketing name for Citroën’s now-defunct hydropneumatic suspension. Unlike other cars that rely on shock-absorbers and springs for ride quality, a Hydractive-equipped vehicle has a system of LHM fluid that self-levels the car, allows for a driver-variable ride height, and ironed out bumps, holes and all the other crap bad roads throw up like no other system. It also ran the power steering, which made it incomparably easy to steer a Citroën, and was used in the brakes, which made it safer than most other cars on the road since brake fluid was incredibly flammable.

If that isn’t enough to convince you how good Hydractive was, then a few real-world examples might. I had a lovely Citroën BX as a first car, and that fancy suspension got me out of a few tricky situations.

#1 The street thugs
One day upon leaving work, I got back to my car and found it was being used as an impromptu bench by some street thugs. I asked them to piss off (though not in so many words) and this seemed to annoy them and their stance gave me the idea I was in for a whooping. I got into the car and started it up, and it began to rise as it always did, and the street thugs little faces suddenly lit up. They gestured me to go higher so I did – no, wait, I decided not to pander to their whims so I gestured that it didn’t rise any higher and drive off without getting whooped.

#2 The lake on the slipway
A sudden and intense shower in the middle of summer in the city where I live caused a sort of flash flood on a slipway to get on the motorway. Part of the tarmac was submerged where the terrain dipped, mainly due to a clogged drain. There was one part of the road that was juuuust shallow enough for an ordinary vehicle to pass, as long as they stayed very, very closed to the guardrail and didn’t stall, as the water reached the cars’ door sills. The resulting queue of regular saloons and hatchbacks was tremendous, while lorries and 4x4s all took a shortcut and simply ploughed through the middle of the gigantic puddle, as did a certain Citroën BX with its hydraulic suspension set to maximum height.

#3 Crap but unpunishable parking
I was late for work, but it wasn’t my fault. It was one of those days where it seemed half the city had decided to drive to wherever it wanted to go, and I couldn’t even find a decent illegal parking spot, i.e., a place that will get you fined, but doesn’t really hinder traffic or pedestrians. I only found a spot beyond the pavement, on a patch of unkempt, wild and weedy grass. I drove the BX onto it, then slotted the suspension setting into its minimum height, and literally slammed the car into the weeds. Result: I could get a ticket, but there was no way I could get towed away. This became a favourite trick of mine.

Some more stories will be furnished at a later date!


Citroën – doing what it does best

Posted in Car conception, Desirable machines, News, Upcoming cars with tags on 10/06/2016 by Alexander


I’m a big Citroën fan. Always have been.

In fact, I’m a second-generation Citroën man, since my father owned most models of Citroën manufactured from the 60’s onwards. He had a wonderful olive-green Ami8, e had a couple of Visas, but he never had a GS simply because his car of choice was the CX.

Thanks to him, the CX is my favourite car to this day, and it represents what most purists argue was the last true Citroën that was 100% faithful to the core philosophy: innovation, lateral-thinking, standing out, no compromises.

The CX launched in 1974, and the following year, the company had to be bailed out by Peugeot. Peugeot did all it could to kill Citroën’s flair and innovative style, but a lot of crackingly good, original Citroëns managed to make their way to the showrooms.

There was the BX, which thankfully ended up being my first car, which was so good it inspired a cult following still vibrant to this day. There was the Citroën AX, a car everyone assumed would be just a cheap, forgettable urban runaround, but still chugs around transporting proud their proud owners in 2016. The Saxo, with its “street” following, the C6 with its unique stance… the list goes on.

The past decade or so has made me sad, in that it would seem that everyone now likes Top Gear-endorsed, overpriced German cars, with rock-hard suspension and seats that seem to be made of granite. Everyone now prefers cornering and a badge over common sense and an intact spine.

So it thrills me that Citroën, for years the last automotive stalwart for comfort and treating its passengers’ bodies well, has announced Citroën Advanced Comfort, a few simple technologies to make the car as comfortable as possible. Let me just pause by saying that this is a sad day for some die-hard Citroën fans, as it marks the definite end of the Hydractive suspension system, responsible for the Marque‘s “magic carpet” ride quality, and present in most mid to high-end Citroëns since 1955. I’m part of this number, since it was a fantastic bit of kit to have on your car (that adjustable suspension got me out of a few pickles), but let’s look at the bright side: at least Citroën is on the path to regaining its status for innovation and comfort.

The tech is comprised of cushioning the suspension further, as well as using different and supportive materials in the seats. Heightened body rigidity adds to he comfort, as does further sound deadening to isolate occupants from the outside world. You can read the testimony of someone who has tried this in this Autocar article.

Perhaps the main advantage is the low cost, which will allow even the entry-level Citroen offerings to be equipped with the extra comfort. I personally can’t wait, as this news plus the announcement that the PSA group plans to introduce a range of new vehicles including electric ones, means I might have an electric mega-comfy Citroën I can actually afford in the future.

Compressed air hybrid

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Car conception, Upcoming cars with tags , , , , , on 28/01/2013 by Alexander

hybrid-air-1PSA Peugeot-Citroen’s fortunes have been dismal lately. They’ve posted one of the biggest losses of European car makers for 2012, and continue with alarming operating costs on a daily basis. This makes me very worried, because I’m a big Citroen fan, and I hate seeing them this way. However, PSA has recently announced a new type of hybrid system for their smaller cars,developed in conjunction with Bosch, that uses cylinders of compressed air instead of batteries. You can see a video of it here. The main aim of the system is for city driving, which as we know, is by far the most fuel-consuming part of a car’s use (unless you’re one of those lead.footed wankers). PSA say the compressed air will account “60 to 80 per cent of the time in city driving,”, and improve fuel efficiency by some 45% and range by 90%.

The system adds about 100kg to the weight of a traditional ICE powered small car, which is around half that of a conventional hybrid system. PSA claims it uses very simple, serviceable parts, with no rare metals like lithium-ion. The goal is to develop a ‘global’ system that’s cheaper than existing hybrids to appeal to China and Russia as much as European markets.

This is definitely an excellent idea, and any and every possible technological path that leads to lower fuel consumption must be explored. The problem is the release date: 2016. That’s very far down the line. Both PSA and the world at large need this sort of tech in showroons yesterday.

The demise of the European car market

Posted in General opinions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 16/10/2012 by Alexander

Europe’s worsening economic situation is reflected by many things: unemployment, social unrest, tight national budgets and so on. Because this is a car blog, what matters here are new car sales, and this year they’ve been appallingly low. All the big European car manufacturers are posting record dips in sales, except for one: BMW, who have seen a 10% increase in cars coming out of their showrooms.

Renault have sold a staggering 29% less, Fiat are 19% down, Volvo slumped 17%, General Motors and Ford lost around 15%, and curiously, PSA Peugeot-Citroen, a group in the news lately for their poor financial performance and their dubious alliance with GM, lost just over 8%, practically the same as that of the VAG group of brands owned by Volkswagen. Daimler-Benz, of which Mercedes is a part of, saw nearly a 7% loss, most of which can be attributed to the slump of Smart.

In the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association report, the reader can note an odd tendency: there’s a tendency for European-based manufacturers of more affordable cars such as superminis and family hatchbacks to have registered a heavy loss (GM and Ford may be American, but their European models are conceived and built here). On the other hand, Audi was up 1.4%, Jaguar Land Rover rose a staggering 13.2%, and as mentioned, BMW got an extra 10.5%. Really shows who’s suffering and who’s benefiting from the current recession!

In the long term, I’m worried this could mean Europe’s non-German car-makers disappearing altogether. It doesn’t seem to matter how well traditionally widespread brands like Fiat and Renault make their cars, they just can’t compete with the badge-conscious, overpriced German offerings. If these sorts of brands go under, anyone who wants a frugal small car will either have to buy a bland Japanese vehicle or a Volkswagen in one of its guises (Seat, Skoda, etc.). Or we could see a BMW-owned Citroen for example, since the only real small car the Bavarians make is the Mini and all of its bastard sprogs.

Either way, dark days are ahead for everyone on the Old Continent.

That Prince Rainier sure had good taste…

Posted in Desirable machines with tags , , , , , on 27/06/2012 by Alexander

Prince Albert of Monaco is auctioning off some of the cars in his dad’s collection. Many interesting cars are up, but the one that caught my eye was the lovely 1980 Citroen CX. Rainier knew his cars, but Albert probably doesn’t, otherwise why would he want to get rid of such a gem? And the article also states that 38 cars are up for sale. In a country the size of Monaco, where did he get the space to park so many cars?

Anyway, forget all that, the Autoblog article linked above has, at the end, a link to catalogue in PDF with the absolute crackers up for sale. There are some pretty exclusive machines as well as some wonderful, down-to-earth, bread’n’butter classics. If you’re in Monaco on the 26th of July, you might want to check it out.

DS9 revealed

Posted in Car conception, Upcoming cars with tags , on 21/03/2012 by Alexander

After yesterday’s speculations, Citroen has decided to go “oh, what the heck” and reveal its DS9 at the Place de la Concorde in Paris. L’Automobile magazine website has the exclusive on the car, so head on over to see the gallery.

Personally, I’m not blown away. It looks like a stretched VW Scirocco.

Citroen DS9: China only

Posted in Car conception, Upcoming cars with tags , , , , on 20/03/2012 by Alexander

The past 24 hours on good car blogs have been awash with news of a new Citroen. Citroen’s Facebook page published two teaser pictures some hours apart, and Autoblog Espanol were the first to advance that it as a China exclusive DS9 (apart from usually being the first, they’re also usually correct). Not long before, News2zest had published two pictures, one of a veiled Citroen concept car in Paris, and another photoshopped rendering of the aforementioned car mish-mashed with one of the teaser pictures. I’m not too sure about this last one though, since it looks very similar to Citroen’s previous concept, the Hypnos.

It’s interesting either way, since this will mean a probable successor to the Citroen C6, though it remains to be seen if this new car will maintain the high standards of Citroen’s current flagship model. On the downside, if the Metropolis concept is anything to go by, cars tailored for Chinese sensibilities might not actually work that well in the rest of the world. Perhaps the upcoming Beijing Motorshow will see the DS9’s unveiling, and we’ll see if this is true or not.