Tribute to Citroën Hydropneumatic Suspension

For true Citroën engineering fans, the progress made by the company over the 64 years hydropneumatic suspension was offered is a testament to what the company did so well, and so different from the rest of the automotive industry.

The video at the end of this article provides a thorough visual history of the development of hydropneumatic suspension in various Citroën models commencing with the Traction Avant and DS prototypes in 1954.

It should be noted that the first clip in the video shows the uni-body integrity of the Traction Avant and its ability to roll off a cliff yet still drive away. That clip was produced in the 1930s with a Traction that had torsion bar suspension.

Traction Avant – cliff rollover.

Hydropneumatic suspension came to the Traction Avant in 1954 and then only to the rear end of the 15/6H (6-cylinder – H for hydraulique) model. Although it was in a Traction production model, the consensus is that the 15/6H served as a practical testbed for hydropneumatic suspension setting the stage for the full implementation of hydropneumatic suspension commencing with the DS introduced in 1955. Great archival footage of the DS is featured.

The video then goes on to show Citroën’s innovation with the GS in 1970, followed by the CX, interestingly with comparison footage of Audi and Mercedes-Benz trying avoidance manoeuvres. It then goes on to show the aplomb of the BX.

A Lotus Elan and a Ford Sierra sedan come under scrutiny against the further developed hydropneumatic suspension in the XM. And things get really interesting from there…

The Activa prototype, unveiled in 1988, is shown going through its paces.


One of two Activas made, it was a testbed for the advanced “Hydractive: hydropneumatic suspension controlling body roll that appeared in the XM in 1990 and later, in 1992, in Xantia Activa production models as Hydractive II or H2. It used computer hydropneumatic suspension incorporating extra suspension spheres to allow a soft ride in normal conditions, but taut body control during hard braking, acceleration or cornering.

The video then moves on to the C5 (early version) and the C6.  


Hydropneumatic suspension ended with C5 III (x7) in 2017, when C5 sales were under 15,000 cars per year.

The producers are quite critical of PSA management and marketing, especially PSA CEO Carlos Tavares and Citroën CEO Linda Jackson, saying that they are responsible for whole middle class segment C5 & C6 failure after (2008). They are also responsible for ending hydropneumatic suspension and divorcing Citroën to unusable unpractical DS cars and quirky cheap Citroën cars.

Regardless of who’s to blame for Citroën abandoning hydropneumatic suspension, kudo’s go to the producers for putting together this educational video:

1 comment

  1. Have been a Citroën owner for over 20 years; 2CV’s, Dyanne Truckette, DS 21sedans and wagons, a BX and now a 55 Traction Avant. Always fascinated by the design and engineering…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Access further archives on our Archive Documents page.



A community of Citroën enthusiasts with a passion for Citroën automobiles.

Citroënvie © Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.