Encore Again! Archie Vicar tests Citroen’s long-wheelbase CX Prestige.
“Driver & Motorist”, July 1976. Photographs by Dick Trevithick. Owing to shutter spring failure, stock photographs have been used.
Despite producing some technically intriguing cars such as the GS, Citroen’s finances are not in the best condition. And despite this, Citroen devoted more of their precious francs to developing the CX yet further, with this long wheel base limousine, the Prestige. At least this proves that Peugeot are not going to interfere too much in Citroen’s engineering activities.
We don’t have space here to recapitulate the many interesting features which the CX demonstrates. Suffice to say that luxuriant ride is courtesy of Citroen’s famous “hydropneumatic” suspension. This system also operates the super-direct steering which is quite unlike anything offered on comparably-priced British cars such as Triumph, Rover or Jaguar. Progress being what it is, we can expect the CX to set the standard for steering in future.
Does such progress also imply that by 2005 cars will have virtually instant steering? This we can only hope but the auguries are good in this respect, if this CX and Alfa Romeo’s nimble Sud are any gauge.
Citroen’s engineers invited us to Chantilly, deep in the heart of the French countryside to test the CX Prestige. With a measuring tape, they showed us the car is 25 centimetres longer than the standard car. We brought our own ruler and discovered that what they meant was that the CX Prestige is ten imperial inches longer. Those inches should more than satisfy President D’Estaing for whom this car appears to have been solely designed. Other owners, few in number, I think, are mere accidental beneficiaries of Citroen’s urge to ensure the Presidential legs have plenty of liberté as they are conveyed from crisis to crisis.
Chantilly is famous for its horses and so we ate some as part of a “working lunch”. We scoffed horse meat tartar as a starter (and heard a little about the revised bushings, front and rear). The starter arrived with a resplendent 1965 Chateau Lapignac. Then, we enjoyed a horse-tail soup which is akin to a finer ox-tail soup. It was made with a stock derived from veal and blended with a lesser Margaux (and was paired with a small lecture on the new gearbox ratios). The main course was horse liver.
To drink, 1971 Pomerol worthy of the Pope’s own cellar. I had to drink two bottles of this as the man from the Daily Evening Post was unable to attend. Chief stylist Monsieur Opron chatted amiably about the door handles for some reason. We kept on eating. Perhaps some of Citroen’s money worries stem from the lavish level of entertainment they afforded us. Between us we seem to have eaten a whole racehorse. A fine desert wine from Yquem was chased by two 1934 cognacs. Merci, Monsieur Peugeot!
And so we proceeded to the race-course itself to drive the limousines at the highest possible speeds over the same turf our late steed once trod. Since the purpose of the test was to demonstrate the comfort of the rear accommodation, it fell to our photographer Dick Trevithick to do the honours at the tiller. And yours truly was poured into the back of the car to check the upholstery and other details.
First things first, the ashtray is located right in front of the passenger. This inspired me to fire up my havana. The combination of the supernaturally floating ride, the undulating terrain and Dickie’s leaden right hoof somehow inspired the racehorse I had eaten to want to revisit its old stamping ground. With the horse and the Cuban nicotine in mortal combat, I hunted desperately for a means to open the door.
Long after Trevithick had tested the CX’s excellent brakes (to the surprise of the speeding demon Mr Setright from “Mini and Small Car”) I was still struggling to affect egress. The good news was that the Prestige is fitted with leather which is easy to clean. The thoughtfully supplied footrests are removable and, indeed, replaceable. The door release mechanism is a trigger-style switch hidden behind the grab handle. Good to know if your tummy is a little delicate!
The CX comes with a 2.4 litre unit and will make Citroen’s Car Of The Year 1974 even more desirable. A vinyl roof is standard.