SOTW: Citroen Xantia Activa/MX-5 update
Shed falls head over heels for a hydraulic hero
This Citroen Xantia is so fascinating because it's an £800 slice of automotive history; the Xantia Activa has the honour of being the world's first production car to be fitted with active suspension, where body roll is actively countered by electronics and, in the Xantia's case, hydraulics.
Taking a logical step on from Citroen's trademark hydraulic suspension, the Xantia Activa has two additional hydraulic rams and gas-filled spheres that, in conjunction with some sophisticated (in mid-1990s terms) computer technology, minimises the Activa's body roll through corners.
The next bit is even more ingenious. During long cornering, the two extra hydraulic rams (one at the front and one at the rear, set on opposing corners) firm-up the anti-roll bars, countering body lean. A roll corrector that works in a similar way to Citroen's self-levelling system regulates the pressure of the rams, and allows no more than half a degree of lean.
The result was eerily flat and surprisingly grippy cornering. As the seller points out in the advert, French car mag l'Automobile measured a maximum cornering force of 0.94g, which compares very favourably with the 0.93g managed by a Honda NSX or the 0.92g recorded by the Ferrari 512TR. Not bad for a family saloon wearing 205/55 R15 tyres.
The Activa was also criticised for a lack of feel - because of the roll-free cornering, it was hard to tell where the limit of adhesion was. Even so, take a look at the comparative cornering pics of an Activa and an Audi A4; it's hard not to be impressed.
This particular Activa looks to be in fairly fine fettle. The seller says that it's had new discs and pads, handbrake cables, exhaust, and front brake hoses in the past 1000 miles, and that all 10 gas spheres are still under warranty.
SOTW Special: UPDATE
SOTW Special, we were contacted by a chap named Mike Breslin, who told us of his surprise to see we had bought his old car; one that he thought no longer existed!
Mike told us that he had sold the Eunos with a few faults to a trader who had planned to scrap or break it, but evidently there was a change of heart, and the car was tidied up and sold on.
A longer chat with former owner Mike revealed that he is a motoring hack himself, and used to use our humble shed for reviewing track events all over the country for various magazines. Mike also wrote the Haynes Track Day Manual, in which our car is pictured several times (a copy will be included in the sale of the car).
Perhaps the best news of all was that Mike still had the service history, which he has kindly sent to us, along with a spare key. We've also sourced a badge thanks to helpful PHer Risotto. Just a few more bits to do and our little Mazda will be back on the market.