I for Individuality

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I hr Individuality

Road Impressions of the Citroen CX2400 Gil — One of the World’s Most Sophisticated Cars

I HAVE been road-testing, over a considerable mileage, the Citroen CX2400 GTi. It is a car you need to get to know intimately, before all its sophisticated aspects can be fully assessed — indeed, one of the first tasks of a conscientious road-tester or owner must be to read thc excellent instruction-book issued with the car, net as to become properly conversant with it. Only then does the magnitude of the Citroen’s engineering proviess become apparent and other cars begin to pale into insignificance against its scientific and entirely logical specification. In short, I am again a great Citroen admirer. . . . It had been too long since I had tried one of the big Citroens. The car now submitted was the sporting CX model with the fuel-injection engine, announced in mid -1977. Like the present range of these bigger cars it retains Citroen’s front-wheel-drive, in conjuction with this transversely-mounted, over-square, 931/2 x 851/2 mm. (2,347 c.c.) four-cylinder five-bearing engine. This is Citroen’s idea of an uptatcd,

more-refined power unit for the still-very-advanced conception motor-car from the Quai-Andre Citroen in Paris. This type M23,622 power-unit has inclined o.h. valves operated from a chain-driven, side-mounted camshaft by cross-push-rods and rockers. It develops 128(DIN) b.h.p. at only 4,800 r.p.m. and 145 lb/h. torque at 3,600 r.p.m. The fuel-injection system is Bosch L-Jetronic, ignition is electronic and therefore contact-less, and the compression-ratio is 8.75 to I. To this new morn powerful and more refined engine is coupled a five-speed gearbox, or the optional 3-speed Citroa C-matic torque-converter. There are five-bolt alloy wheels, the interior trim is more luxurious than on lesser CX Citroens, and all the former

distinctive aspects of these sleek, aerodynamically-efficient four-door saloons have been retained. Thus there is the famous all-independent hydro-pneumatic suspension, which is self-levelling, and the hydraulic power-braking shared only with the Rolls-Royce.

whose makers pay Citroen a royalty to use it. The suspension has equal-length double wishbones at the front, of anti-divc geometry. and trailing-arms at the rear, and thc brakes use ventilated discs front and back, with respective diameters of 10.2″ and 9.2″, the hydraulic power ss,tcm of operation being dual-circuit, and with a load-sensitive limiting valve to the rear brakes. The parking brake works on the front wheels, using separate pads. The wheels have 51/2J rims and arc shod with those splendid XVS tyres, 185HR-14″. by Michelin, with whom Citroen is so closely associated. It goes without saying that rack-and-pinion power-steering is used, on Citroen’s Vari-power system, with manual reversion, geared as high as 21/2-turns, lock-to-lock, lore turning circle of 35′ 9″. That is a general outline of how sophisticated this CX2400 Citroen is. The 9′ 4″-wheelbase, 15′ car weighs 3,032 lb. empty “at the kerb”, takes a payload of 1,047 lb., and it retains the famous manually-adjustable-for-height build-in to the hydro-pneumatic suspension, which enables the ground clearance to be raised from the normal sit-inches to 91/2-inches, useful for fording streams or negotiating snow, ctc., and which also

gives power-jacking, and a, low level lot-easy maintenance working. It also provides the CX with that endearing habit of settling down to rest after the engine has been switched off! Incidentally, it no longer sighs as it does this. No ordinary car, this. How refreshing, to those who like to know that individuality in car deSign is still available. As to the sheer logic of this Citroen, I will try to convince you of this as we go through the controls and instrumentation of the CX2400 GTi.

There is a deep padded, black-matt facia behind the bow-window screen, swept by a single-blade wiper that provides excellent unobstructed vision, as do the car’s slim windscreen pillars, the wiper-blade working with the air strcam. A binnacle before the driver contains four instruments and 17 warning lights. The former comprise, from 1 to r, a Jaeger quartz clock with second hand, the yellow-banded ribbon-type speedometer that shoots speed in large figures, one of these appearing at a time, with additional k.p.h. indications, the total and trip tnileometers, an electronic ribbon-type tachometer matching the speedometer, which has a red chevron zone before the red warning starting at the maximum safe engine speed of 6,000 r.p.m., and finally the combined steady-reading “fuel-contents” gouge and oil-level indicator. These are all stnall, square-shape instrument-faces, the illumination of vvhich can be controlled by an under-facia rheostat knob. Another square-faced dial, outside this cluster,

lower down the facia, is the water thermometer. its needle somewhat disconcertingly not always zeroing. On some Citroens there is a button for checking oil-level in the engine sump, as once fitted to Derby-Bentley and a few other high-gradc cars. This, however, was absent on the Test car, the instant-read-out oil-Iced gauge having been substituted. Coming to the long line of little warning fights above the instrument dials, these are sensibly symbolled, and are of orange, blue, green, yellow, and red huts. They indicate, again from I LO r, rear fog-lamps in operation, hand-brake on (a flashing-light), turn-indicators in use, sidelamps alight, hazard-warning on, this supplemented by

the turn-indicators lamps flashing, torque-converter oil-temperature too high (on automatic-transmission cars only, of course), hydraulic-system pressure at fault (I like the instruction “If the light conies on while driving stop inunediately, then start off again at a low speed to the nearest Citroa dealer”, Real-Trouble indicator, supplemented by lights to show that hydraulic pressure, oil-pressure or water-temperature is in need of attention, when a central button (not incorporated, however, on the Test car) is pressed, oil-pressurc too low. engine heat too high, oil-temperature too high, fuel level low (“Time to fill up without delay” it says), front-brake pads dangerously worn, dipped headlamps in use, caravan lights, if one is being towed, defective, and finally. warning-light no. 17 is to show that the rear-window heater is on.

There is a faint trace of the aeronautical about this logical instrumentation of the CX) Dials and warning lamps arc in full view through the single spoke 15.-diameter steering-wheel.

Having absorbed all that, down to the central console, for some more controls. For on this, apart from air vents, are set a cigarette lighter and the very neat little press-switches for the electric windows of the front doors (the rear doors have ordinary winding handles), the rear-window heater switch, and that for the excellent interior lighting. Here, aloe, are the rear-heater outlets and the gaitered stubby central gear lever, which functions without any double-dog-leg movement, reverse being behind the 5th forward-speed location, the lever spring-loaded to the centre of the gate. Further back one comes to the triple heater/cold air/fan vertical levers, sliding in a quadrant, the fan having three speeds, their symbols lit when the car lamps are on, and the lever for altering the height of the car. Clipped to the front passenger’s side of the console is a very neat little map lamp withilexible lead, that lights up as it is anclipped and enables a map or document to be read without taking it up to the lamp; which even incorporates a magnifier. The facia and console, respectively, have • the usual central and ottremities air inlets and there is a lockable underfacia cubby of reasonable size. The front doors also have useful rigid and elastic-topped pockets and there is a small central open cubby hole under the air-vents and the radio, and another before the driver’s knees, sensibly angled and dipped. Radio roof-aerial and door-located speakers are standard, the radio an extra; on the test car it was a Blaupunkt Coburg CR stereo-wt. Above it is a big sphere, which I did not like to touch at first — this turned out to be a lidded ash-tray, made to swivel towards either driver or passenger! You should by now be getting some idea of the Gallic logic behind she layout of the CX’s interior, soles us pass on to the minor controls. On the left of the instrument-binnacle there is a control “box” with a rocking-switch on its top edge, controlling the turn-indicators. These are non-self-cancelling but audible and visual warnings prevent the driver overlooking them. While the theory behind self-cancelling flashers is that, having signalled, the driver’s hands will he too busy with steering the car to work the control again, Citroen prefer him or her to know exactly when the signals are being transmitted. The lever rocks very lightly, so it is easy to select the wrong flasher momentarily at first, but once accustomed to this, as with much else on the CX, the action is acceptable, and as easy as playing the piano! A similar rocking-switch on the boo on the right-hand side of the binnacle dips the headlamps, again, like piano-playing. Going back to the I.h. control-box, a tiny lever beneath it selects the two-speed windscreen-wiper action, with an intermittent seeing, and, flicked towards the steering-wheel, the washers. The hazard-warning button is beneath this box, as is the switch for the front Cibie fog-lamps. On its extremity is the horn-push, which used gently, sounds a quiet note but, pushed further, brings 50 two loud air-horns. Similarly, on the end of the r.h. box is the push-button for flashing the headlamps, and a little lever beneath it brings in side lamps or headlamps. Beneath it also is found the switch for the rear fog-lamps. What could be simpler? When the ignition is “on”, the speedometer and tachometer are lit up, and, as I have said, there is a little knurled knob under the r.h. controLs’ bests vary the intensity of the lighting, of the speedometer and tachometer dials The driver’s door-mirror is adjustable electrically, from a tiny “pip” on the door-sill. The driving seat is adjustable forwards, for squab angle from a side lever, and for height, from a similar side-lever. Fore-and-aft movement is somewhat restricted and the squab does not have fme adjustment. Headroom is also rather restricted. The seats are magnificently comfortable, except when cornering at the high G-values of which a CX is capable, when more side support would be an advantage. They are upholstered in durable-looking ribbed jersey and cloth, and a wide centre arm-rest at the back converts the car into a very spacious four-seater. There arc elastic-topped pockets in the backs of the front-seat squabs, the rear passengers have neat ash-trays with what look like stainless-steel

spring-closed covets, all seats have head-restraints, and a notable refinement is the fitting of side sun-visors for the rear occupants and pull-up rear sun-blinds for their use. I can recall such blinds only on a Fiat 130, in the glare of the Italian sun. . . . An electric sun-roof costs an extra £388.70 but gives draught-free ventilation to front and rear compartments. It opens fally in 51/2 seconds. Other options include air-conditioning, tinted windows and leather upholstery. The doors have sensible press-button external handles and finger-grip pull-back internal handles, with locking by small turn-buttons. One is sorry not to have central-locking on such an advanced motor-car. Three different-sized keys, easily identifiable, serve the various locks, the large one being for the Simplex ignition/steering lock. Behind the back seat there is a very roomy shelf, but oddments stowage is not possible, deliberately no doubt, on the front facia itself. The black imitation-leather trim gives restraint to the dignified-interior. The carpeted 11.6 cu. ft. luggage boot is like a large, unobstructed box, of ample capacity and efficiently illuminated without the car’s lights having w be on. It can be opened without the kcy, the lid is self-propping, the sill low. The spare wheel, with wheel-brace clipped to it, is under the bonnet, so the boot floor is unobstructed. I would not relish having to shift spare and punctured wheel from and to this position, which slightly mitigates the convenience of the aforesaid power-jacking. The Citroen has good wrap-round bumpers with substantial rubber buffers, and a rubber strip along the body

sides. The appearance of the car cannot, in my view, be faulted — sleek, smooth styling, emphasising the good aerodynamics of the CX. The bonnet-lid is opened from a release on thesis of the front compartment. It is self-propping, with a clodt-spring-catch that obviates any chance of it falling on one’s head, and easily released. The machinery revealed may passeth understanding by the layman and the average garage-hand but there is no denying the high quality of this engineering, as one would expect with, for instance, the central hydraulic system functioning at 2,540 lb/sq. in. at full pressure. Oil filler and dip-stick (with plug-in lead for the levellecorder) are accessible, but the battery is rather tucked away; it is served by a 93-amp alternator. The power-unit is canted forward and topped by the impressive inlet pipes. The Citroen name appears nowhere on the front of this fine car, the famous Chevron badge on the grille between the 4-lode Marchall headlamps being sufficient identity. Plastic protectors arc provided for the low-hung Cibie

lode fog-lamp glasses. The safety glass is by St. Gobain and Boussois, the Klippan safety-belts are easy to use, lass told, and Citroen recommend Total fuel and lubricants. The door “keeps” function well and the driver’s door lock and boot lock are properly mounted on the panels, not as part of the press-buttons, but no coat-hooks arc provided. Driving Comments Driving out of London, bound for Wales, in the rush-hour, at first I disliked she CX. Its steering wheel self-centred strongly, causing strange lurchings, the clutch was sudden in engagement, the gearbox seemed about the worst on any modern car as if. having evolved this very advanced car, Citroen’s engineers did not deign to design a decent manual gearbox), and the brake pedal, while preferable to Citroen’s une-time half-ball on the floor, was biased to the left and lower than the accelerator and it had a restricted movement. The Rover 3500 1 had been using before the CX seemed, at first, to be superior, with its Borg-Warner automatic transmission and good straight-ahead stability. But some miles later, I too only enjoyed driving this CX but I

admired its designers enormously. You just need to get used to it and to understand it. The gearbox is notchy and 1st-gear sometimes baulks but slow movements, with the rather heavy clutch fully depressed for each gear-change, make this not too impossible a gearbox. Reverse engages very easily, after depressing the knob. There is no space for parking the left foot except under the clutch pedal, which has a long travel The brakes are extremely powerful for light pedal pressures, a fact masked at first by the anti-dive stopping stance. The centre handbrake is well placed. The four-cylinder engine is not as smooth, obviously, as a multi-cylinder power unit, and nothing like as pleasant to sit behind as a “Solihull Citroen’s” V8. But in spite slits power it is quite astonishingly flexible, to the extent of pulling away easily, if slowly, from about 1,500 r.p.m. or less in 5th gear on a level road. This means that the gearbox need not be used overmuch, except when driving very fast or in traffic drag-races, when the car feels high-geared. Nor is it necessary to go anywhere near 6,000 r.y.m. to obtain very

effective acceleration. The gear ratios are: 3.17, 1.83, 1.25, 0.94 and 033 to 1, with a final-drive of 4.77 to I. This means that the CX2400 GTi will cruise all day at 5,000 r.p.m., equal to 105 m.p.h., or faster if called upon, and at our Motorway-70 is running at a mere 3,330 r.p.m. in 5th seas. Top speed is 117 m.p.h. and 0-60 m.p.h. comes up in fractionally over ten seconds. 100 m.p.h. from rest in 341/2 seconds. It is possible to wind this super-comfortable Citroen up to 29, 51, 74 and 99 m.p.h. in the four lower gears. So it will be appreciated that the fuel-injection CX is a very quick car, and it is moreover one which is usually travelling faster than the occupants or driver may realise. The ride comfort over truly poor surfaces need not be further commented upon; it is fully complementary to the luxury of thc seating. Admittedly, a hump-backcd bridge or a severe road-dip can catch the hydro-pneumatic suspension out, revealed by a kick-up from the rear-end. But that apart, the ride is superb. The CX tends to vvander a fraction on straight roads as its wheels, one at each corner, follow undulations, but one soon gets accustomed to this. The cornering power is very high indeed; outside the

CITROEN GTi — continued from previous page needs of normal fast driving, yet roll angles are by no means extreme. There is moderate under-steer but the weight on the driven wheels largely masks the power that is being put down through them, even for rapid starts, and transmission on nuise and snatch are moderate indeed, for a front-wheel-drive car. Thc power-steering varies its assistance depending on speed and lock, audit high-geared at 21/2 turns, lock-to-lock. Iris never overlight once on the move and transmits no kick-back or vibration.

There is no need to say more about the instrumentation and controls, except to reiterate their logicality. The odd speedometer and tachometer readings do not mean much, but are adequate for giving some idea of car and crankshaft speeds. The speedometer’s main calibrations are at 10 m.p.h. intervals, with alternate large and smaller digits; the tachometer’s in steps of 1,000 r.p.m. There is some reflection in the other dials.

The engine was an almost instant starter, pulling away warm or cold impeccably. It idles at a steady 1,000 r.p.m. There is a good interior dipping mirror to supplement the door terser, and driving vision is unimpeded, front and rear, the low hump on the bonnet top, to admit air, not impeding the driver’s view. The CX is at its best devouring long straight roads, a fast, quiet-running motor-car. Ventilation is one of its less good aspects. The fan on full speed is called for, to get a decent cool-air flow, and although it isn’t very noisy, in this quiet car it sounds irritating. ‘Thus the sun-roof is a good fine-vveather adjunct. The lamps are effective on dip and full-beam and wind-noise is low. To better assess it, and to check fuel thirst, after I had driven home to Wales lured it for local errands, and then returned to London, vta Leominster. Worcester. Pershore, Evesham, and

up Fish Hill, Broadway, which in 1927 the first Daimler Double-Six 50 took in top gear, as did the Citroen CX (in 4th). Then on through Moreton-in-the-Marsh and Chipping Norton, where lease spent a night before the war with a girl in a Brough Superior saloon, when the latter’s clutch-linkage broke. The return to London was made via the M4 and Gloucester to Ledbury and Hereford, but by-passing the latter town by taking the Roman-route, so that we did not actually drive along the stretch of road out of Hereford on which one of the two very-last public-road speed-trials took place, early in 1925. Over such going the CX cards itself. It then took us to the VSCC Silverstone Meeting, over the route Worcester, Stratford-on-Avon (what is that acro-enginc outside the Motor Museum there?) and Banbury, and back by a most remote hilly route, before I returned the car with reluctance to London, now along the M40. Using this Motonvay means no longer stopping at a rather good hotel at Tetsworth, or negotiating Stokenchurch Hill, on which the first car I owned, a flat-twin, air-cooled ABC, once threw a rod, causing masses of little smoking-hot big-end rollers to ma away down the road. . . .

Another journey took me to Ammanford, and returning over the Black Mountain road via Bethlehem to Llandovery we passed an early Citroen 2cv “corrugated-tie van, so that, apart from the British number plates, we might well have been on a similar remote rural route in France!

In mileage of more than 1,500 the Citroen gave 25.6 m.p.g. and used no oil. The fuel tank holds 14.9 gallons, and the range until the reserve light came on was 366 miles. The filler-cap is under a simple flap, its non-locking cap having good finger-holds, while the tank is easy to fill to the brim. The fuel-low warning light gives huts very small safety-margin before you are stranded.

For those who want the maximum of sophistication and science in their motoring and a remarkably comfortable car as well, this Citroen CX is the answer, unless you can afford a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. At £8,203.81 in basic form it represents rather remarkable value. Servicing is required at 10,000 intenals and chassis lubrication every 5,000 miles, and the suspension system is guaranteed for two years or 65,000 miles, against an overall warranty-time of one year of unlimited mileage.

It occurs to me that these Citroens need to sell if they are to continue to cock-a-snoot at conventionality and, if you cannot encompass the bigger models, the rnid-range Citroens are well worth investigating, incorporating as they do the same effective suspension and braking systems as the CX range, at quite modest prices. And if Citroen does not have Renault’s motor-racing image, they can at least point to victory in the 27,000-kilometre London-Sydney Marathon and to their performances in the 9th Senegal Rally; in both of these gruelling events the hydro-pneumatic suspension was convincingly demonstrated. Information (and a nice catalogue, about Citroens motoring is obtainable in this country from Citroen Cars, Mill Street, Slough, Bucks. SI.2 5DE. — W.B.

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