THE CitroŽn car, with its self-levelling hydropneumatic
suspension, front-wheel drive, streamlined body, and many other
advanced features, is as modern as it was when it was introduced nearly
10 years ago. The subject of the present test is the new DW model,
which has all the features of the DS except the clutch-less gear
change. It employs the normal clutch and synchromesh gearbox of the ID,
but is endowed with the power steering and brakes of the more expensive
model, plus the more potent engine of that car.
The DW, like its sisters, is a very big ﬁve-seater
saloon with a long wheelbase and a wheel at each corner. The front
suspension is by double transverse arms, with single trailing arms at
the rear, and anti-roll torsion bars at both ends.
The operation of the suspension has often been
described, but brieﬂy each wheel is linked with a small piston that
operates in a cylinder against a hydraulic fluid. This fluid transmits
the wheel movements to vessels which are divided by flexible
diaphragms, the latter compressing an inert gas which takes the weight
of the car. An engine-driven pump pressurizes the suspension system,
the four units of which are inter-connected with a self-levelling
arrangement. A driver-operated lever allows the car to be raised for
covering rough ground.
The elaborate hydraulic system also powers the brakes,
which are applied by the well-known “’button"’ on the floor, inboard
front discs and outboard rear drums looking after the retardation.
Pressurized by the same means, the power-assisted steering is operated
by the excellent single-spoke steering wheel, a British invention
pioneered by Humber, but now forgotten in this country.
Designed on aircraft principles and tested in the wind
tunnel, the large saloon -body is quite remarkably efficient, giving
low drag and good directional stability. A very complete heating and
ventilation system is built in, with a separate service for the rear
passengers and demisting of the back window. Owing to the absence of a
rear axle, the luggage boot is exceptionally deep, yet the car has
virtually no rear overhang.
In spite of rumours of a ﬂat-six and a V8, CitroŽn have
retained their ancient long-stroke four-cylinder engine of only 2
litres capacity. Petrol is so expensive in France that the car would
not sell on the home market unless it were economical. The old “four”
is certainly that, and so this apparent anachronism is retained in the
otherwise futuristic design.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this wide, bulky
saloon is its capacity for attaining a genuine 100 m.p.h. with a gross
power output of only 83 b.h.p. The engine is curiously lacking in
low-speed torque, which is supposed to be a virtue of ‘long~stroke
units. and as the car weighs 25 cwt., it has to be rowed along with the
gear lever if anything in the way of acceleration is required. The
machine is exceptionally high geared, and so third speed is often used
for miles at a time on winding roads. This gear has an ultimate maximum
speed of 90 m.p.h., and second will encompass 55 m.p.h.—50 m.p.h. and
75 m.p.h. are quite normal changing-up speeds.
When maximum acceleration is called for, the engine is
neither quiet nor smooth. Indeed, it makes some rather agricultural
noises, but it is agreeably quiet when cruised fast on half-throttle.
The absence of wind noise is mostmarked, and there is no draught if a window is opened.
Quite outstanding is the roadholding, particularly on bumpy or
steeply cambered roads. The stability is so good that one need never
expect the car to veer off its course through hitting a pothole or
being struck by a strong gust of wind. The power-assisted steering is light and quick, and the
level ride gives confidence to all the passengers. This is a most
untiring car for long, fast journeys. It has a wonderfully long stride,
while the powerful servo brakes are always ready to cope with an emergency.
It is necessary to criticize the foot pedals. The brake button gives
good and progressive control, but heel-and-toe operation is impossible,
the accelerator being too far away. The clutch pedal is much too high
off the floor and has rather a long movement. Also earning a black mark, the time-switch
for the direction indicators is awkwardly placed. These things never
work for the requisite time, and this car is worthy of a better
As is usual on French cars, the seats are comfortable, the
upholstery of the English version being in leather. The external finish
is very good, several petrol pump attendants complimenting me on the
smartness of the car. Yet it had covered a considerable mileage. The
light grey paint seemed to suit the CitroŽn admirably.
The DW is easy to drive, all the controls being light in
action. The gear lever under the steering wheel is now normal in its
movements, all speeds including first being synchronized.
It takes a fast car with good roadholding to keep up with the CitroŽn
on the roads of France. Under our rather more cramped conditions, the
machine becomes less effortless in action and demands the use of the
three lower gears at frequent intervals. Yet the old CitroŽn magic is
there and the satisfaction of a rapid day's journey is very great.
As a 100 m.p.h. five-seater, the CitroŽn is extremely economical. Even
when driven ﬁat-out, the car will return a praiseworthy 26 m.p.g. and a
remarkable 30 m.p.g. is possible if the full performance on the lower
gears is not called upon too frequently. Fairly expensive and lacking
engine refinement, the DW is nevertheless the best CitroŽn yet, and it
will be welcomed by the devoted addicts of the marque.
SPECIFICATION AND PERFORMANCE DATA
Car Tested: Citroen DW four-door saloon, price £1,568 19s. 7d. including P.T.
cylinders 78 mm. x 100 mm. (1.911 c.c.). Pushrod-operated inclined
valves in light-alloy cylinder head. Compression ratio 8.5 to 1. 83
b.h.p. (gross) at 4,500 r.p.m. Twin-choke Weber downdraught
carburetter. Coil and distributor ignition.
Single dry plate clutch. Four-speed all-synchromesh gearbox with column
change. ratios 3.31, 4.77, 7.35 and 13.79 to 1. Spiral bevel final
drive. Open drive shafts to front wheels with constant velocity
punt-type chassis. Hydro-pneumatic self-levelling independent
suspension all round with engine-driven pump. Double transverse arms in
front and single trailing arms behind with anti-roll torsion bars at
both ends. Power assisted rack-and-pinion steering. Inboard front disc
brakes, outboard drums at rear, with high-pressure servo. Centre
locking steel disc wheels fitted Michelin X 165 x 400 tyres.
Twelve-volt lighting and starting. Speedometer, ammeter, fuel and water
temperature gauges. Clock. Cigar lighter. Windscreen wipers and
washers. Radiator blind. Heating, ventilation and demisting system with
separate services for rear passengers and rear window.
Flashing direction indicators.
10 ft. 3 ins. Track (front), 4 ft. 11 1/4 ins.: (rear), 4 ft. 3 1/2
ins. Overall length, 15 ft. 11 3/4 ins. Width, 5 ft. 10 1/2 ins.
Turning circle, 37 ft. Weight, 1 ton 5 cwt.
Maximum speed, 101 m.p.h. Speeds in gears: third, 90 m.p.h.; second, 55
m.p.h.; ﬁrst. 30 m.p.h. Standing quarter-mile, 19.9 secs. Acceleration:
0-30 m.p.h., 4.8 secs.; 0-50 m.p.h., 10.8 secs.: 0-60 m.p.h., 15 secs.;
0-70 m.p.h., 21.6 secs.
Fuel Consumption: 26 to 32 m.p.g.