My Xantia is having some problems with the stupid fuel pump again, so I sent it in for repairs this afternoon. Since I had to leave my car there for a while, Choi Hoong lent me a car for the afternoon, and the loaned car is.......
WOHOOOO!!! A Citroen BX!!! I've always wanted to drive a BX!!!! People say it's weird, but I say it looks very sporty and spacy, it's like a Mitsubishi Starion 4WD with spaceship parts!!!
The Xantia's daddy and predecessor, the Citroen BX is the double chevron sibling of the roaring lion's Peugeot 405, just like what the Citroen Xantia is to the Peugeot 406, or the Citroen C5 to the Peugeot 407, or the Citroen XM to the Peugeot 605, yada yada yada, you get the idea.
What sets the Citroens apart from their Peugeot counterparts though, is the quirkier polarizing styling that does away from convention, and the application of hydropneumatic suspension.
Good looks notwithstanding (in my highly unshakable opinion, anyway, blah to those of you who disagree, C-classes, A4s and Camrys are so blah :p ), the Citroens are also endowed with superior braking (brake fluid boiling? never heard of it) and cornering capabilities (corners? need to brake one meh?), and also, the precious gift of height-adjustment and self-leveling abilities from the hydraulics makes it a bit easier for these cars to traverse minor floods, and turn heads while at it! Blah to those who disagree too, come, one fine heavy rainy day we go roll into small floods and wipe that smirk off the face of those uncles who think they're so ghetto because they think only their sissy Pajeros can do that!! Better yet, we can then lower the suspension back to normal and fly straight over the next speed bump (bump? was there any? didn't feel it) with a vague "doop" sound while the dashboard in their cars are shuddering from the impact!!! Yes, so much advantage makes the driver stupid and encourages excessive bravado, some might argue, but that's why I love it. I might be a lousy driver with no balls, but the car will cover me up so well!!
Well anyway, I was quite occupied today, and didn't have time to snap more photos of the BX, but I'm absolutely thrilled to drive it!! What I noticed when I first got in the car is the seating position; the stock seats were low, the butt is placed lower than the thighs in the seat, and the sides of the lower cushion are high and firm, providing lots of lateral support, very sporty, me likes!! The 6 spoke steering is slightly smaller than the Xantia's and is slightly dished, I like too!
Although visually dated, the BX's interior layout is almost exactly the same as the Xantia, there's almost an instant sense of familarity here, but there's also where the similarities end. Once I turn the key, a world of similarity and difference came to me instantly. Whereas I have to wait for the Xantia's front to dip a bit when I start the car, the BX does quite the opposite and the rear starts to rise instead. The steering is heavier, and it locks earlier, at about only 2.5 turns.
The accelerator pedal is harder to push too, and unfortunately this BX I'm driving is an auto, so my hard work stepping on the pedal isn't rewarded with any grunty acceleration. Well yea the grunt's there, but the pick up isn't :p
Primitive hydraulic suspension cars use regular brake fluid for all their hydropneumatic needs, but regular brake fluid is viscous and absorbs air easily, resulting in excessive compression and sometimes enabling boiling, making it not so ideal for the application in cars where all steering, braking, and suspension needs depend on it, thus the mineral LHM oil was invented. With it's extremely low viscosity, LHM absorbs very little, if any, air or water, and hence the compressibility of the fluid is consistently very low. The BX runs on an older hydropneumatic suspension system, utilizing a red mineral fluid as opposed to the Hydractive system in the Xantia that feeds on green mineral fluid (very nice colour, btw, it almost looks yummy). C5, the Xantia's successor, and all current hydraulics-equipped models are running on Hydractive 3 with orange hydraulic fluid for blood. Anyway, the BX's suspension is precise and does well to resist body roll, but the bump-absorbing capability is noticably lower, so the ride's harsher compared to Xantias.
Now comes the biggest difference, and similarity; the brakes! Like the Xantia, the brake pedals in the BX have hardly any travel, although the BX's pedal has almost no noticable travel! It's all in the polish; while brakes on both cars work about equally well in city drives, the Xantia's brake calipers bite into the discs progressively and gently, bringing the car to a swift, but smooth stop, such finesse!! Step on the BX's pedals a bit too much, however, and the car will hit back at you by screeching to an almost instant neck-snapping halt! The BX demands respect from the driver :D
Hm, overall, the BX proved to be a very interesting car, the steering, brakes, accel pedals, suspension and everything is harsher, so there's more rawness in the driving experience. I didn't have a chance to let the car charge into corners, but I've no doubt it'd have been very fun and satisfying :)
Cool, I enjoyed the BX drive a lot. Hm, now, if only there's an XM I can drive ^^ Oh man, I love these Citroens, when they don't break down, of course!!!
Btw, while what I had in mind when I started this "short post" was a pic of the car with some teeny little driving impressions, I had no idea how it became the half-cooked review, comparison and brief history all-in-one it is now. I just do not know. I just get carried off when it comes to cars :D