Motor Sport investigates one of the world’s most advanced cars. Extreme comfort and security the highlights of this spacious 2-litre F.W.D. saloon with hydraulic clutch, gear-change, steering and brake actuation, and self-levelling, oleo-pneumaticatic all-independent suspension. Very high average speeds possible due to outstanding cornering, road adhesion and braking power.
One of the world’s greatest cars –– the Citroën DS19, or “Goddess,” has pleasingly aesthetic lines which look aerodynamically efficient, make no concession to fashion and dispense with a radiator grille, air for radiator and front inboard disc brakes entering via the shallow nose slot. Technically the DS19 is a decade ahead of other cars.
When you have established a definite and convincing lead in motorcar design and construction, the fame and commercial advantages such initiative secures are tempered by the need to maintain one’s reputation and position. In 1934 the Citroën engineers evolved their front-wheel-drive, torsion-bar-suspended all-steel saloon which put them twenty years ahead of contemporary automobile design. These cars, particularly in Light Fifteen form, gained an enviable reputation for stability, safety and controllability. But as the years rolled by the three-speed gearbox, a rather awkward gear-change and rather sluggish performance dropped sales of this famous Citroën.
Having got the brilliant little 2 c.v. on the market the great Citroën concern had to produce a new car to replace its former Light Fifteen and six-cylinder f.w.d. models. They had already provided oleo-pneumatic self-levelling, rear suspension as optional on the Six and a courageous step was taken when it decided to replace the earlier models with the revolutionary DS19, with automatic clutch, assisted four-speed gear-change, power steering, power brakes and the ingenious oleo-pneumatic independent suspension front and back.
Having put this advanced car into production in France and at Slough in England, Citroën are once again twenty years ahead of other manufacturers. Their use of hydro-pneumatic automation befits a concern owned today by the great Michelin Tyre Company, not only because of Michelin’s association with pneumatic products, but because, as confirmed by an American authority, the excellent Michelin “X” tyre, fitted as standard to the DS19, is particularly suited to air suspension.
The DS19 in detail
With a view to discovering how the Citroën DS19 behaves and what disadvantages, if any, come to light when it is used as regular transport over an appreciable period, we completed recently a 4,000-mile test of this intriguing motor car. After this extended road-test of the DS19 we tend to deplore the labour involved in driving other cars and crave the luxury, riding comfort and sense of security imparted by this truly remarkable Citroën. Its makers, we feel, are justified in describing it as “The car of the future, for the roads of today.” Apart from its hydraulically operated components and ingenious suspension it has many other unusual items of specification such as front-wheel-drive, inboard disc front brakes, single-nut road-wheel fixing, absence of a hand-brake, deletion of the usual ignition distributor, a nylon cooling fan, automatically balanced braking, single-spoke safety steering wheel, an aerodynamic appearance, pronounced crab-track, and roof and sidewalls of plastics construction.
Because this Citroën is so unorthodox it takes even experienced drivers some time to become accustomed to its controls and to feel at home in it. All the controls work to a light touch but they are placed unconventionally, so that the effect of teaching oneself to drive the DS19 is rather like learning to read Braille. In the first place, there is no hand-brake, its place being taken by a knob under the facia which slides in a vertical slot. To hold the car a foot pedal is depressed and the knob pulled down and to the left, whereupon the pedal remains depressed and the car is held firmly. A tiny safety catch is provided which can be used to lock the knob in the “on” position, presumably on the basis that children or others strange to the car are more likely to fiddle with knobs, with possibly disastrous results, than with levers. As there is no clutch pedal this foot pedal can be used for holding the Citroën on hills or in traffic before the clutch takes up the drive. Although the subsidiary pedal and its retaining knob remained in correct adjustment, in combination their function is more clumsy than that of a handbrake, although quite in keeping with the character of the DS19! This subsidiary brake pedal will stop the car in the event of failure of the power brakes but it does not possess any real retarding power.
Having released the retaining brake the DS19 driver is confronted with only three main controls – the light, excellently-situated treadle accelerator, the gear-lever, and the press-button for applying the power brakes. The gear-lever extends upwards from behind the top of the facia, moving in an arc. It might with slight advantage be placed beside the wheel, because. as placed now, it is necessary to reach for it over the rim of the steering wheel. First gear is selected by pushing the lever forward, after which it is brought back through neutral to select, respectively, second, third and top gears by moving it from left to right. It is thus a quadrant change and it is necessary to go through the third-gear position to gain top from second gear, and vice versa. This is no particular disadvantage because it is possible to push the lever to the position corresponding to the next gear required, changes being encouraged by manipulation of the accelerator but otherwise accomplished fairly leisurely, so that the lever can be moved through one gear and the change into that gear by-passed, at the risk of a jerky change-down or terribly sluggish acceleration after a change-up unless such manoeuvres are allied carefully to road speed. If second gear is selected from top the car will continue in top gear until the accelerator is depressed or road-speed falls to that for automatic engagement of second, so that some pre-selection is possible.
The gear-lever is finger-light and exceedingly smooth in operation. Three aircraft-style labels indicate the gear locations, The lever is moved left from neutral to actuate the starter, so that the engine cannot be started with the car in gear (an idea used, incidentally, by the late J.G. Parry Thomas for his Leyland Eight of 1919/20). Reverse gear is selected by moving the lever well to the right of the gate, beyond first-gear position.
Having started the engine the hydraulic storage cylinder is charged and the car rises up and levels itself. First gear is selected, it being necessary to be sure to push the lever fully forward, and on depressing the arcelerator the automatic clutch takes up the drive smoothly, albeit it refuses to be hurried, the lag being disconcerting until the driver’s mood has become attuned to that of the DS19’s
Even before driving off, the occupants of this Citroën are impressed with the appointments within this unusual car, apart from the comfortable ride they anticipate enjoying. This sense of luxury is Imparted by the wide, deep seats, beautifully upholstered In high quality soft hide in the Slough-assembled cars, by floor carpets that feel like the thick pile found in Directors’ offices, and by the splendid visibility through the wrap-round windscreen with its notably thin pillars, wide side windows, again with really slender pillars, and generous wrap-round sloping rear window. At night the interior is lit by subdued strip-lighting down the interior of the door pillars and in both the rear corners of the body –– and we mean strip-lighting, those on the door pillars each being 14 in. long. This very pleasant interior lighting is put on by operating a pull-out switch on the facia which, set in the halfway position, ensures that the lighting is actuated automatically when the driver’s door is opened. A drawer-type ashtray on the facia and a small ashtray for the rear-seat passengers are provided for those who must smoke in motor cars.
The front seats are separate and easily adjustable not only for 5-7/8 in. fore and aft travel but with squabs which can be set at any desired angle or folded flat to form a bed in conjunction with the back seat, this squab adjustment being effected by unscrewing and relocking two screws at the seat base. The back seat easily accommodates three people and has a folding central armrest. All the seats are deep and extremely comfortable, the squabs of the front ones having roll-over tops. Two children can be accommodated beside the driver but the bulge accommodating the rear-set engine restricts leg room for a second adult front-compartment passenger. Otherwise the front-drive ensures a floor completely clear of obstruction. The frame side-members form deep sills over which all occupants have to step, but this offers no inconvenience and is in the Citroën tradition of having to step down into a low safe car. The only criticism that can be levelled at the seats is that when cornering fast lateral support is somewhat lacking, against which, useful grab-handles are provided on the doors, very necessary in view of the DS19’s cornering adhesion! All four doors trail and possess windows that wind down fully, those in the front doors requiring 4-1/4 turns, those at the rear over 4-1/4 turns, from fully closed to fully open. There are no quarter-windows. The doors close rather “tinnilly.” They have push-button external catches incorporated in sensible handles. Special catches are incorporated in similar interior handles, pulling the main catch forward locking the door, pressing a small catch and pulling back the main catch releasing the doors, which are light and incorporate effective “keeps.” The interior handles are too far forward for these big forward-hinged doors to be easily opened in a single movement. Locking the back doors from the driver’s seat is, however, is simplicity itself due to this forward-location of the handles, a very useful feature. Both front doors are lockable with their own key, the key being easy to insert in excellent rotary locks embodied in the push-buttons. Each door, except the driver’s, has a deep inclined armrest, and all doors possess kick-plates.
Study of the facia layout of the DS19 confirms that, as with the exterior styling, the Citroën designers have made no attempt to ape American flamboyancy. The facia is of plastic material, unimaginatively matching the body colour. We saw at Slough a Director’s DS19 in which imitation wood-veneer had been applied over the plastic dash and we believe two-colour facia schemes have been tried to brighten up this functional aspect of the Citroën. At each side of the facia two somewhat-crude ventilator grilles admit varying degrees of fresh air according to the setting of their control levers, while a flap at the base of the grille deflects cool air upwards away from the eyes if required. For hot-weather motoring this simple arrangement Is admirable. In the centre of the facia is a well-type storage space or cubbyhole, covered rather than closed by a non-lockable spring-loaded plastic lid. This well is lined and its floor is recessed in the corner adjacent to the passenger for the retention of a chocolate-box or suchlike, but, this well is really too shallow and will not take, for instance, a large handbag or a camera. It has another serious disadvantage –– with the heater in use the contents are baked, causing, we discovered too our dismay, a bar of chocolate to melt over our maps. On the other hand this storage well is easily accessible to the driver for quick manipulation of maps, etc. The Citroën is none too adequately endowed with stowage space, for there are no door pockets and no under-facia shelf. There is, however, the usual useful shelf below the rear window.
The minor controls consist of a row of small discreet knobs actuating, from left to right, interior lighting, screen washers, choke, self-parking screen-wipers and demister fan. There is also a knob for manual adjustment of ignition advance –– rather archaic, but useful when fuels of low octane-rating have to be tolerated. A knob protruding through a hole beneath the instruments actuates the instrument lighting, with rheostat-control, speedometer lighting remaining brighter, however, than that or the adjacent dials. A finger-lever protruding from another under-facia hole serves to lock the clutch should a tow-start or servicing involving engine cranking be essayed. The Jaeger speedometer is of oblong type, reading to 110 m.p.h. in steps of 10 m.p.h.. but with the more prominent figures spaced every 20 m.p.h. Its needle reads steadily and total and trip with decimal mileage counters are incorporated, but the face is set rather far back, behind the level of the other dials. There is a rather noisy, not entirely accurate, clock, an ammeter, and a petrol gauge, all by Jaeger. The petrol gauge. marked E, 1/2, F, has the disconcerting habit of reading mainly zero, even with some four gallons in the tank, but is reasonably accurate while the car is stationary.
On the right of the steering-column is the usual, excellent Citroën lamps’ control, its lettered knob twisting to select side or headlamps and its stalk also moving up and down to select sidelamps/dipped headlamps or dipped/full headlamps beam. Thus, at the slight risk of extinguishing the lamps by turning the knob the wrong way if absent-minded, the driver can instantly flash a warning of approach or go instantly from dipped headlamps to sidelamps. This is a truly praiseworthy arrangement enhanced by tiny sidelamp indicator-lights visible above each front wing. By depressing the knob the horn is operated, a low note or high open-road note being available, depending on the pressure exerted.
Reverting to the facia layout, three indicator lights are provided— for headlamps lull beam (a bright badly placed, blue light), lack of oil pressure, and to warn should pressure for power braking and steering fall too low. It is significant that, although the main reservoir operates at up to 3,000 lb/sq. in., this small red lamp is the only indicator considered necessary for the entire hydraulic system, apart from a float-level on the reservoir. The minor control knobs are lettered for identification, except the screen-washer button, which is plated. Additional items include a retractable lever under the facia which can be extended to provide manual screen-wiper operation in the event of failure of the wiper mechanism, and a 6-volt socket for a map-light or other accessories. Lightly constructed anti-dazzle vizors. which swivel sideways, are fitted, the roof is generously crash-padded, and there is a rather inadequate central rear-view mirror. The heater is controlled by a single large knob on the engine-compartment wall. Knobs on each side of the facia control heat flow into the car and a knob by the driver’s right foot regulates heating of the rear compartment. In the worst winter weather heating and demisting proved fully adequate. A control for the self-cancelling direction-flashers, incorporating a warning light, is situated on the edge of the facia, convenient to the driver’s left hand. The switch can also be used to cancel the warning before the automatic flasher has ceased to function.
The suspension of the remarkable DS19 is adjustable for height, apart from the automatic self-levelling action, which causes the car to rise up or sink down with an audible hiss. An aircraft-style lever at the left of the front compartment is set in line with a white paint mark for normal motoring. This lever can be moved upwards to two other settings, to increase the ground clearance very appreciably, at the expense of maximum comfort. To jack up the Citroën this lever is first operated to set the car in its highest position, the jack is inserted, and the lever then set to its lowest position, below the normal setting, whereupon the car lowers itself onto the jack, raising two wheels on one side clear of the ground! That concludes a description of the control arrangements.
The steering-wheel has a rim nicely bound in sweat-proof plastic cord. Visibility from the driving seat is excellent and the driver soon becomes completely confident in taking this quite wide car through gaps with bare inches to spare, while the 8-in. crab-track assists tight cornering. Visibility for reversing is not so good.
On the road, as experience over more than 3,000 miles and under almost every possible combination of weather and traffic, including driving over the sheet ice and snow of late February, taught us, the DS19 provides fast, safe, extremely comfortable transport, is interesting to drive, is at its best on long open-road journeys, and is even more “sure-footed” and foolproof under bad conditions than its famous predecessors.
Due to the fact that upward gear-changes cannot be hurried and the car takes its time in moving away from rest, and because the comparatively poor power/weight ratio is allied to high gear ratios, acceleration is the least impressive aspect of the car’s performance. The s.s. 1/4-mile occupies 22-1/2 sec., 0-50 m.p.h. is achieved in 14.6 sec., 0-60 m.p.h. in 23.2 sec. On the other hand, once in its stride in the 3.3-to-1 top gear, cruising speed rises naturally to 110 m.p.h. and beyond. Let the pace drop and there is a sharp reminder of the high gearing, because second gear is needed where many drivers would expect the car to pull away in third gear. The hydraulic gear-change renders this no particular hardship, however, except for the fact that the engine is noisy when accelerating, while the “clutch-slip” effect of too hurried throttle opening following hurried changes also audible. In top gear the DS19 becomes a pleasantly quiet car, engine noise subdued, road noise, except for the characteristic sound from the “X” tyres, divorced from the occupants, and wind noise at a commendably low level. Given sufficient clear road this Citroën will achieve fractionally over 90 m.p.h. (Citroën modestly claim 87), but at least a mile of uncongested road is required in which to greatly exceed 80 m.p.h. Yet third gear can be held to fractionally beyond this speed and the indicated maxima in first, second and third gears are, respectively, 30, 60 and 90 m.p. h. There is no synchromesh for first gear, which engages with a faint “clonk” and must not be selected except from very low speeds. The gears are inaudible, enabling third and second to be used impartially in traffic driving, the gear-lever action can be likened to flicking ash off a cigarette, and, unless hurried, the changes are effected impeccably.
The rack-and-pinion steering becomes exceedingly light, as soon as the car starts to move and renders parking an effortless operation. The well-placed wheel calls for just under three turns, lock-to-lock and the lock (turning circle averages 36-1/2 ft.) does credit to a taxi-cab designer! Although this power steering is finger light on the move, if heavier for initial manoeuvring, and is completely devoid of kickback, column vibration or castor-return action, it is not insensitive and the car can be steered accurately and “quickly” with the entirely effortless steering. If this is typical of power steering, we are all in favour. Only when driving at the limit are any disadvantages apparent, as will be described later. On the test car the steering column, when turned, gave rise to a horrid screech, where it was binding in a tight bush.
In spite of the softness of the suspension, the Citroën rolls only slightly in normal fast cornering, although rally-type tests cause it to heel over rather a lot. Not only on account of its all-independent suspension but because, as a glance at the car reveals, Citroën have adhered to their policy of “a wheel at each corner,” the DS19 is a commendably stable, safe car, which can be cornered exceedingly fast once the driver is accustomed to the light, high-geared steering action. On wet or icy roads the car shows up to advantage, nor is the driver conscious of the front-wheel-drive affecting control, either on drive or over-run. If pressed to the limit on wet roads understeer causes the DS19 to run wide.
The brakes are as interesting as most other aspects of this futuristic motor car. The rubber-covered brake button may at first confuse a driver accustomed to a normal brake pedal, especially in these days of high-set pedals not arranged for heel-and-toe manipulation. Confusion arises only because the foot drops from the Citroën accelerator to this button. There seems less likelihood of the foot slipping from it than from a pedal and certainly valuable time is saved by this ability to drop the foot straight down onto the brake. In action this button, which possesses only the faintest movement, has been criticised as not permitting progressive braking. The action is certainly sensitive and the driver is apt to apply too much pressure before backing off, resulting in slightly jerky braking; but if the application is not always entirely progressive and if a rather unfortunate lag is apparent, actual retardation can still be achieved progressively. The stopping power of these disc-cum-drum brakes is exceedingly impressive, even apart from the very light button pressure required. ‘The Citroën halts as if running into invisible sand without wheel-locking or deviation, even on slippery roads, and the only vice these superb brakes have, apart from the aforesaid sensitivity and lag, is occasional screech when applied at low speed. Certainly their power gives the driver of a DS19 great confidence when cruising fast in difficult conditions. The pedal-cum-knob parking brake holds securely.
Naturally most people, when invited to ride in the DS19, pay close attention to the suspension. Although it is not perfect, quick negotiation of hump-back bridges having the same effect as on a vehicle with ordinary springing, except that the car lands squarely and withont subsequent pitching, and bad road irregularities causing shock to be transmitted, the sheer merit of the hydro-pneumatic system is revealed by driving at, say, 80 m.p.h. over roads which shake up the occupants of normal cars, even those considered to be well sprung, at anything over 35 m.p.h. Moreover, in spite of this ability to absorb bad surfaces the Citroën does not suffer from undue sponginess, dipping its bonnet but slightly under emergency braking, wallowing very little when driven rapidly over inhuman pot-holes, and refusing completely to pitch.
The bodywork is mainly free from rattles, although a few mechanical tinkles emanate from near the dash. Gear-changing is apt to be followed by very discreet sighs as of a maiden with something troubling her conscience. The noise of the demister fan, which, however, is rheostat-controlled for speed, intrudes to some extent on the otherwise praiseworthy hush. The flat floor and unobstructed driving compartment enable the owner to enter the car impartially from off or near side. The screen-wipers fail to wipe the outside edges of the wrap-round screen and tend to smear it in heavy rain, but the blades park effectively.
The farther we drove this Citroën the more we became attached to it. Many small, as well as its major, design features appeal. The choke, for example, has only a very small effect on throttle opening, so that manoeuvring from cold on the automatic dutch is not rendered embarrassing. Incidentally, choke is not normally required, even for starting after parking for a winter night in the open. Nor does the engine “pink” on good petrol. It runs-on only after really hard driving, never after normal motoring. It warms to its work in a matter of a few yards, even on cold mornings. The bonnet has two safety catches which have to be sought for after the interior release-ring has been operated, before it can be opened, after which its lid has to be propped up. Once opened a veritable mechanical maze is revealed, which will render the average repairer quite impotent! The dipstick, oil and water fillers are accessible, however, but we had to scrounge a length of hose before water could be replenished in the screen-washer reservoir. The Exide battery is well placed.
In contrast to the bonnet the lockable boot-lid, released by pressing a button, is held open automatically by struts. The deep well-type boot provides excellent luggage space; the side sills run through it but, if anything, enhance it, because luggage lowered down into the deep well thus formed can be packed securely. There is automatic illumination of the interior when the lid is raised—a splendid feature —and the Citroën further endeared itself to the writer because the gallon can of petrol he carries permanently as a penance for his curiosity about the fuel-consumption of the cars he drives, in this case fitted securely into the foot-pump compartment at the rear of the boot whereas usually it falls over and spills its contents over the luggage. Indeed, four such cans could be carried thus, if desired, thereby increasing the already-meritorious fuel range before a garage need be resorted to by approximately 100 miles.
It is difficult to exhaust the DS19’s practical features—the effective bumpers, which safeguard the lamps at the rear, the ingenious mounting of screen and rear window in rubber-backed clips, peg-secured rear wings easily detachable by removal of single nuts for wheel removal or replacement if damaged, the roof-high direction flashers forming part of the styling motif, the untidy but accessible stowage of tools within the under-bonnet-mounted spare wheel, the boot lid hinged forward of the back window to ensure reversing visibility while the lid is up, provision of tow holes, mud flaps forward of the back wheels . . . the list is inexhaustible.
During our extended trial of the car we made some careful checks on fuel consumption. At first we averaged only 20.3 m.p.g., using the Citroën mainly in London and its environs, for short local journeys and with many cold starts. When the big freeze-up drove Londoners into the Underground and left the roads clearer we recorded 23-1/2 m.p.g., in spite of wheelspin on frozen surfaces, while fast cross-country driving gave a figure of 23 m.p.g. Certainly the DS19 owner should never get less than 20 m.p.g. and might well increase this to 25 m.p.g. on sedate outings, although few enthusiasts care to “waste” the car in this manner. The petrol filler is beneath a spring-loaded flap in the off-side back wing. It has an unsecured bayonet cap, can just about be filled from a can without resorting to a funnel and has a drainaway for spilt fuel. A claimed tank capacity of 14 gallons ensures a range of over 300 miles. The filler is rather small, resulting in blow-back. After 1,400 miles we returned to Slough, where the Citroën was greased and the sump drained and replenished. Up to this time no oil, water or hydraulic fluid had been required.
The Citroën at speed
Soon after this routine servicing the car was subjected to a high speed night drive round Motor Sport‘s usual strenuous circuit. Conditions were unfavourable, the roads dry, but mist and some motor-coach traffic being encountered. The experienced driver who conducted this part of the analysis returned bursting with praise for the DS19. He applied to the Citroën such superlatives as “fabulous motor car,” “brakes terrific,” “it really is safe,” “when thrashed it just would not put a wheel wrong,” and similar expressions of pure unalloyed enthusiasm. The overall average speed for this test was 62.9 m.p.h., the speedometer being taken to 90 in third and top gears whenever possible. This was fractionally faster than the average attained by the same driver in a 1-1/2-litre British sporting saloon, but on a winding leg of the route the DS19 averaged 77.5 m.p.h., or 6.1 m.p.h. faster than the smaller so-called sports saloon! Driven flat-out petrol thirst was 19-1/2 m.p.g., and again no oil or water was consumed. To obtain these results it was found essential to wind the engine up to an indicated 90 m.p.h. in third gear, when the engine felt perfectly unconcerned. Impressions formed during this run were that the steering is generally superb except for some front-wheel shimmy and a disconcerting lightness after a sharp corner on sudden full lock, roadholding far in excess of engine power or the Iimit of the “X” tyres, so that full throttle can be used and more steering lock wound on in difficult situations, the wheels never breaking away on dry roads and the ultimate effect being that the car digs in its outside front wheel and restores its equilibrium. During this run the car was cornered so that the front tyres doubled under the rims and both front-wheel knave plates flew off and have not been seen again! Such roadholding is exceedingly safe and “forgiving.” At times, although the car understeers satisfactorily, the power-steering introduces a neutral-steer feel which diminishes the driver’s judgment, but on bumpy fast corners the Citroën is as steady as a rock and some 5 m.p.h. faster than many sports saloons. Driving visibility is 100 per cent, but the in-built Lucas 700 headlamps are not adequate for 90-m.p.h. cruising nor is the beam sufficiently “spread” for fast cornering. The panel lighting tends to reflect on the screen. On winding roads or long, straight main roads, unless badly baulked by traffic, this Citroën really comes into its own and, apart from engine noise, does not tire the driver, while front and rear-seat passengers remain comfortable and confident if somewhat thrown about while the driver is applying himself to his task. It proved possible to write legibly while the car negotiated fast curves and was driven at 80 m.p.h. over a notoriously poor surface. Coasting for several miles in neutral with dead engine while operating the suspension lever, braking and using the power steering to the full failed to exhaust the reserve of hydraulic pressure. Only once did we fail on a hill and that was when baulked by an Army Champ to a standstill on sheet ice—the Citroën restarted satisfactorily after being reversed onto a slightly less severe but still ice-covered gradient.
After forming our high-speed impressions the DS19 was put back into everyday service as town carriage, school ‘bus and fast long-distance transport, including covering the R.A.C. Rally, etc. Further petrol-consumption checks while covering the R.A.C. Rally proved the range on a tankful of fuel to be 305 miles, driving hard, while over the entire 160 miles of pressing-on, including hurrying over snow-bound roads, the consumption came out to 22.7 m.p.g. A pint of oil was put into the sump, more to ease our conscience than because the dipstick suggested it to be necessary. We had covered 4,200 miles as this report went to press, and no further servicing was required, nor had any major or minor faults intruded—the answer, surely, to those sceptics who, while complacently accepting hydraulics in aircraft, eschew them in a motor car. This mileage is, obviously, but a fraction of the car’s total life, but it was achieved in less than six weeks, under varied hard-driving conditions, and Citroën’s attitude of “take it away and return it when you are tired of it” endorses their confidence that the DS19 no longer hides any “bugs” or teething troubles in its complex mechanism. This was a dangerous boast for Slough to make, however, for we are unlikely ever to tire of driving this incredibly safe, fast-cornering, superbly comfortable and well-braked car. It is a decade ahead of contemporary design and should appeal not only to engineers and other enthusiastic connoisseurs of good cars but particularly in America. because the gear-change of the DS19 is practically as foolproof as fully-automatic transmission and Citroen is not playing with air springing but applying it scientifically to independent front and rear suspension. And, in the States 2-litres constitutes a small car, in spite of the DSI9’s spacious interior and excellent performance. This is one more of those exclusive cars which, although wide and long, feel like small cars to the driver—as the Continental Correspondent remarked after trying it, “I must keep reminding myself that it is a big family saloon and not a Gran Turismo two-seater! I am really reluctant to return it.”
Before this test the Editor wondered if he ought to own a DS19. Now he not only wants one but also wants to reside in Paris and do nothing else except drive it between there and the Cote d’Azur. Considering all the applied science and mechanical complexity involved, this Citroën cannot be regarded as expensive at £1,150 (£1,726 7s, 0d. with p.t. and import duty). For those who prefer a normal clutch and four-speed manually-operated gearbox the ID19 is virtually the same car, priced at £1,498 7s. inclusive. At Slough about twenty-five DS19s are assembled per week and the first ID19 arrived in England at the end of February. The French factory, however, is producing some 200 DS19s and 100 ID19s weekly.
To conclude, this splendid car makes all other family saloons take a back seat and its safe roadholding and cornering make it more than a match for many cars which claim to be sports models. It is, indeed,”the car of the future, for the roads of today,” and withal a magnificent car both to contemplate and to travel in.—W. B.
New Dunlop tyre
A new tyre named the Gold Seal is now available from Dunlop stockists. The pattern of the tread is entirely new, having ribs separated by zig-zag grooves to give better grip on corners and when accelerating and braking. It is available with or without tube and with either black or white sidewalls
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