A brilliant new suspension system which in effect eliminates body roll while cornering will be introduced by Citroen early next year, writes Mark Catterall.

Dubbed Activa, it significantly improves comfort and safety for both driver and passengers - and allows even inexperienced motorists to go round bends faster, and more confidently. The Xantia will be the first Citroen to be fitted with Activa, which detects any inclination of the car as the driver begins to corner.

Suspension is immediately stiffened to prevent roll, and two hydraulic cylinders are activated to maintain balance.

'Grip, wheel control and traction achieve limits that have been unattainable on almost any production car until now,' said Pierre Boisjoly, Citroen UK managing director. PR hype aside, he has a point. No car in this class before has blended such taut responses and huge grip with such a smooth ride - and these are qualities which even the most unenthusiastic driver can appreciate. For onlookers, it can be terrifying - you cannot believe a car attacking a corner so fast with no body lean is sufficiently gripping the road.

The Xantia Activa will make its British debut at the Birmingham International Motor Show next month, although there has been no launch date fixed for the UK market. The system will add pounds 900 to the cost of a car.

And will you ever be able to buy another car with Activa? Probably not. Other manufacturers are unlikely to be able to steal the idea as it can only be used as part of Citroen's hydraulic suspension, and a patent has been taken out by the French firm.

(Photograph omitted)

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