Evo­lu­tion of the species How Citroën set the scene for the adap­tive chas­sis de­sign

Practical Classics (UK) - - CLASSIC WORLD -

With no nat­u­ral roll stiff­ness in the sys­tem, Citroën sought to elim­i­nate body move­ment with ac­tive ride as early as the For­ties. De­spite ex­per­i­ments with an SM in 1973, prop­erly ac­tive sus­pen­sion didn’t ar­rive un­til the 1989 XM. ‘Hy­drac ti ve ’w a sf ed by elec­tronic sen­sors on the steer­ing, brakes and throt­tle pedal, with the com­puter able to switch an ex­tra pair of spheres in or out of the cir­cuit. How­ever, ar­guably the great­est leap for­ward in sus­pen­sion tech came in 1994 with the Xan­tia Ac­tiva. En­gi­neers added hy­draulic rams that meant zero roll, yet a limo-like ride. De­spite re­cent chal­lenges from the Porsche GT3 RS and all-new M claren 675LT, the hum­ble-look­ing Xan­tia is still the fastest car to ne­go­ti­ate the Swedish ‘Elk Test’ slalom – and by a sig­nif­i­cant mar­gin. It re­ally is that good.

Cost im­pli­ca­tions meant the model was canned in favour of Hy­drac­tive 3, as fit­ted to the 2001 C5.

De­spite be­ing able to adapt in­stantly to the road sur­face and de­tect driv­ing style, purists be­moaned con­ven­tional brakes and steer­ing. The ac­coun­tants had fi­nally rum­bled the en­gi­neers.

Ac­tiva con­cept cars (L&R) showed the way.

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