Road Impressions

The Citroen Dyane 6

To drive a Citroen Dyane 6 is to realise that a sense of the ridiculous, and the entirely practical, has not gone from the world of motoring. I asked for the car when there was a panic over petrol supplies, which was virtually over when it came. But it was an experience not to be missed, if only to be renewed on local journeys or for special reasons.

The Dyane is a de-luxe version of the more basic 2CV which C. R. explained to those unfamiliar with the lowest mode of Citroenism, some time ago. The Dyane 6 Weekend gives 32 DIN b.h.p. at 5,750 r.p.m. from its recently revised air-cooled flat-twin, alloy-headed engine, instead of 26 at 5,500. It has five doors, sliding windows, the fabric roll-back roof, the same coils-in-compression, splendidly-supple interlinked suspension resulting in sure but steeply angled cornering and a most comfortable ride, non-servo disc/drum brakes, an ingenious hand-brake lock, and lots of interior space. Like other front-drive cars the Dyane understeers — what happens when you lift-off in a corner I do not know, because with only 32 b.h.p. you never do! You sit in luxury armchairs and this little but roomy Citroen is lofty. You know how owners of Silver Shadows tend to look down on Jaguars and the like? Well, Dyane owners do the same to Fiestas and Minis. But for all its 602 cc. (74 x 70 mm.) the Dyane can get quite a move on. I was surprised to get it up to over 70 m.p.h. indicated on a Motorway and if acceleration figures sound alarming (0-60 m.p.h. in just over 31 seconds, for example), on the road I overtook far more powerful vehicles than I had anticipated. The noise level is commendably low, the comfort factor high. The worst feature is the facia push-pull gear shift, with neutral not easily selected and bad baulking into top gear unless a very quick hand movement is made. The clutch has a long travel, too. But you have a push-button on the rather flexible plastic facia cill to select the wipers, the blades of which had a juddery action, and even a brake-fluid indicator. The turn indicators, operated from the l.h.-stalk control, do not self-cancel but the twist action of the r.h.-stalk gives the lamps setting for the Cibies, and if these dazzle you can wind the beams down with the 2CV-type knob. The hand-brake is of the umbrella-handle type.

Anyone who thinks an air–cooled engine cannot give much interior heat should try the Dyane’s heater – before I discovered the crude lever that turns the flow of hot air off a plastic box on the floor had almost melted. The facia has amusing two-handle vents which direct cold air over a wide arc, the vent-jaws opening to any required degree. Children will no doubt delight in playing whistling tunes by moving the settings of the n/s one . . . The rear seat folds, for greater luggage space (9 cu. ft.), and the Michelin X tyres should last a long time.

If you see a Dyane driver who looks as if he or she is praying, or about to be sick, it is far more likely that the heat-dial, or more likely the fuel-gauge, is being inspected, these living under the big, lorry-angle steering wheel. At first I put the consumption of 4-star at around 40-45 m.p.g. However, a proper check, coasting a little, and away from Motorways, showed a commendable and useful 50.3 m.p.g. — and I do not think the engine was fully run-in when the test commenced. The rear door self-props, there are rigid door pockets, the dip-stick (no oil in over 400 miles) and oil-filler are extremely accessible, and both sparking plugs reasonably so. The test-car had a Blaupunkt radio, and the body finish was blue, about the only link a Dyane has with a Bugatti. The fuel range would be about 260 miles or more but the simple fuel-filler might invite “milking”.

The screen washers are foot-operated and equipment includes a wooden wheel chock!

You may think the Dyane the biggest joke in motoring — or remembering its modest engine-size, regard it as “a small joke”, as Prosper Profond of Galsworthy’s “Forsythe Saga” might have said — but even his “awful funny” can be uttered without disprespect to the Dyane. And if one has to conserve petrol, it is a joke that can be enjoyed, at £2,290, although one which only the French could perpetuate. — W.B.

New Managing Director for Aston Martin

Aston Martin have announced a new Chief Executive to replace Alan Curtis, the Managing Director for two years, who has moved over to handle international marketing and become Joint Chairman with Peter Sprague. The new Managing Director is John Symonds, at present M-D of the BL subsidiary Pressed Steel Fisher. Tony Nugent, Aston Martin’s Director of Sales, has been made Managing Director of Aston Martin Concessionaires, a newly-formed subsidiary responsible for international marketing.

Before he changed posts, Curtis announced that during 1980 only two V8 Volante convertibles would be built each week, instead of the present three, to allow an increase in production of the four-door Lagonda. Overall weekly production at Newport Pagnell will be maintained at a maximum of seven cars. None of next year’s Volantes will be available in the UK. Delivery of the four-door Lagonda is now being quoted as far ahead as 1983.

Next year’s Volante production is destined for the USA, Japan and the Continent. Since its introduction last year, more than 120 have been built, more than half of them for export. As the Volante has been selling at a premium in Britain, showing demand for “upper crust” convertibles, we can’t help wondering how well the Jensen Interceptor Convertible might have done had Jensen been able to stay in business. We feel sure that there are many more people at all levels of income interested in open-air motoring than most manufacturers would credit