Magazine Article: Citroen CX2400


Real cars have hydraulics
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Fellow Frogger
May 8, 2000
Source: Wheels July 1982
Page 1 of 3

IT IS six years since WHEELS first and only road test of the Citroen CX appeared, but I can still remember the intense disappointment that CX Super 2200 four-speed caused the road-test staff. Our expectations for the CX had been generated by years of admiration for the marque; admiration, it must be said, which had been vindicated by the enormously high standard of innovation and practicality we had experienced in a variety of GS and D-series models over the years.

The CX Super simply wasn't the quantum step ahead of the 19-year-old D-series we had hoped for. Indeed, beneath that superb new body it lacked many of the refinements we had taken for granted on the big Citroens and we concluded that the CX needed power steering, a fully automatic transmission option and better finish. We added: "We'll wait for the 2.3-litre, fuel-injected engine and five-speed gearbox.''

The CX Pallas we have just driven almost 2000km is essentially the car we've been waiting for. lt has a 2.4-litre engine (although with carburettor and not fuel injection) power steering, five-speed gearbox and a superbly finished and equipped interior. The wait was most certainly worthwhile.

Our old enthusiasm for the marque has returned and the CX now fully deserves the lavish praise we are about to bestow, upon her. The CX has clearly enjoyed the full benefits of a principle that is nearly 50 years old and dates back to the Light 15.

Citroen's philosophy is to release an advanced design -- would futuristic be more accurate? -- and, through intensive development of the basic theme, refine and update it over many years.
So it is not just the inclusion of the power steering, extra ratio and added torque that have lifted the CX to new heights, but also the fact that it is smoother, quieter and far more refined in almost every area.

The CX replaced the D-series in 1974 and from a single model with a two or 2.2litre four-cylinder engine, has grown into an enormous range which includes sedans and wagon of varying luxury levels, a long wheelbase Prestige
limousine, and petrol and diesel engines with carburettors and fuel injection. Even the Renault single ohc Douvrin - used in
the 20 and the European Peugeot 505 -
is fitted to some models.
Today, Australians can buy just two examples of the CX. Both are Pallas 2400s in either five-speed manual or three-speed C'matic semi-automatic forms. Sadly, the chances of adding to that list are slim and there are few new Citroens available in Australia. More of that situation you can read in Wheels Within.

Apart from the, Prestige, the Pallas is the ultimate CX -- although there is a fuel-injected GTi sporting version in France -- and in Australia carries a price tag of $23,066 as a C'matic and $24,070 as a five-speeder - rather better value for money When compared to its obvious rivals was the $13,990 Super in 1976.

The extra capacity for the old DS in- line, but now transverely-mounted , ohv 2.1 litre engine comes from increasing the bore from 90 to 93.5mm for a small power increase of just three kW at 86.5 kW. More important to the general responsiveness of the CX is the gain in torque from 154 Nm at 3500 rpm to 191 Nm at much lower 2750 rpm. There has been no dramatic increase in acceleration, but the 2400 is quicker to all speeds and shaves 2.1 seconds from the 0-130 km/h time. to Complicate our figures, however, the standing 400m time has increased front 18.3 to 18.5 seconds.

Comparing manual with automatic is always dangerous but it is Worth printing out that the CX is now as quick through i the gears as the Rover 3500 and the Saab Turbo automatics. Not that it feels especially powerful - the driver still needs to remember that the large 1310 kg sedan is powered by a four-cylinder engine and that plenty of gear changing is required if overtaking is to be done safely.

The CX is a car which builds up its speed, gathers momentum and then retains it, but it doesn't rocket you away from standstill or press you back into the seats as it accelerates from, say, 100 km/h and the engine always feels reluctant to rev quickly. This can be disconcerting for the gearing is now so right -- in contrast to the old four-speed CX -- and the CX cruises so easily at 130-150 km/h that initially the driver expects the car to accelerate in a similar manner.
Of all the changes to the latest CX, it is the five-speed gearbox Which does most to lift the car above the old Super and give the Pallas the high-speed-lounge-room-on-wheels character that Was always one of the most appealing traits of the old DS.

The Supers four-speed gearbox ratios simply weren't up to job of matching the conflicting requirements of commuting and cruising. There was a very wide gap between second and third gears and fourth was relatively low, at least by Citroen (and French) standards, so that it was quite easy to reach the red line in top. The Pallas has a five-speed box, of course, with the same first and second gear ratios, a shorter third and fourth but much longer fifth. Combined with a change in final drive ratio from 4.769 to 4.357, this means that where the old car pulled 31 km/h per 1000rpm in top gear , the new CX has a much more relaxing 36.98.

The spread of gears is now just about perfect and there is a ratio for every condition, with fifth being a true overdrive and offering effortless high-speed cruising. Fourth will still go to the red line of 6000 rpm, but the best we could get out of fifth was 5600 rpm equal to 192 km/h; impressive indeed given the engine's power and a tribute to the CX's excellent aerodynamics.

The CX is not a fast car off the line, the clutch travel is quite long and the engine's lethargic nature and the way the car rises up on its suspension all insist the driver engages the clutch slowly and smoothly.

The accelerator travel isn't anything like as long as it was on the old Super and no doubt this plays a role in making the car feel more responsive than previously.

The gear change is positive, if a little Clunky, with long throws and is spring- loaded towards the three/four plane with fifth up and away. If not as slick as the typical japanese gearchange it is nonetheless pleasant to use and of a high standard for a front-drive car.

For a car of its size and performance, the fuel consumption is impressively small. We drove the Pallas from Brisbane to Sydney cruising Comfortably between
Source: Wheels July 1982
Page 2 of 3

130-160 km/h, and returned between 8.0and 8.6 km/l (22.6 to 24.3 mpg). A stint of city motoring increased the running of performance figures substantially, but over a number of other checks this was never repeated and our overall average of 7.8 km/l (22 mpg) is probably on the low side of what the average owner could expect. The 68-litre fuel tank, which proved very easy to fill, gives an efective range of 500 km to further emphasise the carps ability as a touring machine.

Citroen's unique suspension remains one of the great novelties of motoring, although is is now nearly 30 years since it was first seen on the rear suspension of the Big Six version of the Traction Avant.

The CX suspension features equal length parallel links with anti-drive geometry at the front and trailing arms at the rear, with springing and damping provided by Citroens hydro-pneumatic system which is designed to maintain a constant ride height irrespective of the load. Its setting can be adjusted by a lever between the two front bucket seats, allowing increased ground clearance on very rough roads or easy changing of a wheel. Anti-roll bars are fitted at each end. Citroen takes the high pressure hydraulic system even further by using it to power both the steering and the brakes.

The result is a car with unique road behaviour. Initially it is the steering that can be disconcerting for the first-time driver. We first experienced the Varipower system on the Maseratipowered SM but in wasn't fitted to the CX Super, which came with low-geared and heavy manual rack and pinion steering.

The power set-up still uses rack and pinion but with a strange form of assistance that gives just 2.5 turns lock- to-lock and also powers the wheels back to the straight-ahead position whenever you let go of the steering wheel. This trait occurs even at standstill and can be unnerving the first time. The degree of power assistance decreases in proportion to an increase in road speed so there is built in feel that may be entirely artificial.

The first time you drive the car there is a tendency to apply too much lock but with familiarity the steering becomes one of the cars best points. Going back to virtually any other car you can't help finding the steering low-geared and ponderous. Getting back to the CX is to believe Citroen knows best. The steering is so responsive little more than a half a turn will do what most cars need one or more turns to achieve. It takes time to get used to the fact you not only turn the wheel into a corner, but out as well.

With almost twice as much weight over the front wheels than the back, it is inevitable that the CX will understeer. In the manual-steered Super the driver was constantly aware of the need to apply



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Source: Wheels July 1982
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plenty of lock, where in the Pallas the owe: steering disguised the undertaker in most conditions ( although the front end still feels a bit nose-heavy). The roadholding, on Michelin XVS tyres, is outstanding with a very strong grip on the road and a remarkable ever present feeling of stability no matter how rough the surface or how fast the car is travelling.

Despite its size, the Pallas is sensitive and precise once you master the steering and needs to be driven with a light, accurate touch if the driver wants progress to be smooth. Even with anti-roll bars at either end there is more body roll than would be ideal, but if this is the penalty you pay for the ride comfort then few people are going to regard it as a genuine complaint. Because of the way in which the ride comfort is bound up with the handling and general dynamics of the CX, they should
be considered in the same context Generally the ride is exceptionally good, the self-levelling suspension soaking up road undulations with a smoothness that is uncanny and unmatched by any conventionally suspended car. Only Jaguar's XJ sedan comes close. Indeed, after a non-stop 1000 km trip, one tester is convinced that the CX is the most comfortable car he has ever driven. There is never any tendency to wallow yet it really seems to float over most road surfaces. Only very severe potholes will catch it out, but that is more because they are heard - there is more road noise than we expected - rather than felt.

The CX has four-Wheel disc brakes, ventilated at the front, and, unlike the old DS, a conventional brake pedal. Because the pedal only actuates a valve; there is very little movement This suggest they might be over-sensitive , but in practice they are progressive: and work well.
Under crash stop conditions you can feel the supension's anti-dive set-up doing its job. It almost feels as if the tail is being dragged down rather than the nose. Like so many things about the CX you soon accept what was once unusual and ultimately come to respect the practicality of the Citroen engineer's innovation; Passengers, as well as the driver, love the CX. The cockpit is more of a lounge room on wheels. There is room aplenty for four or even five large adults in the very comfortable, soft, well-shaped seats which provide not only a wide variety of adjustments for the driver, but also allow the passengers to relax.

Citroen introduced the single-spoke steering wheel to the world in 1955 - how it must he laughing at the way the other car-makers are only now beginning to wake up to its advantages - and the CX retains the feature. With power steering it has a smaller diameter than the Super but still seems rather low on first drive. Then you get used to it and wouldn't have it anywhere else. Tall and short drivers will find the driving position close to perfect. There is seldom any need to lift your hands from the steering wheel for the minor controls are situated on either side of instrument pads. The lights, wipers/washers horn, indicators (they still don't self-cancel but that hardly seems to matter), dip and flash are all at fingers length. Only the key ignition and the choke, well down at the base of the steering column, require a long reach.

The only other instruments are a tachometer, fuel gauge and water temperature gauge; but there is a row of warning lights above the top of the dashboard for almost every conceivable function.
The Pallas is a superbly equipped car. air conditioning is now standard and a Eurovox AM/FM radio-cassette; There are electric windows in the front doors, sun-blinds behind the rear seats, sun visors above the rear doors, plenty of bins and map pockets for minor luggage and a I large, sensibly-shaped boot.

The ultra-stylish Citroen CX, in Pallas form, is a refined, well furnished and thoroughly charming car. It has real character and yet is not so strange as to be too far from the main stream that it won't appeal to people who might otherwise buy a Rover, Saab, BMW or Audi.

Eight years old it may be but in its design (inside and out) and dynamics it is still a class leader. There are some cars you admire for their overall engineering prowess, others for their fine engines and still more for there practicality. But you don't just grow to admire the Citroen for this is a car to love. It is quite simply the most comfortable sedan in the world.



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