Prototype C4 Cactus CAC Lab

Comfort means many different things to many different people. Citroën recognises that, and it has taken a holistic approach to addressing the myriad parameters that add to the in-car experience – damping, body stability, acoustics, seats, light, space, ergonomics and cabin layout.

Of particular note within the Citroën Advanced Comfort programme are the progressive hydraulic cushion system, new seat technologies, and a stiffer body with improved acoustics. As observed by Citroën when a vehicle drives over a bump or dip, the oscillations are passed through the cabin and thus its occupants in three stages: through the suspension, onwards to the body shell, then reaching the occupants via the seats.

Where a conventional suspension setup employs springs, dampers and bump stops, Citroën’s system adds two progressive hydraulic cushions, one each for compression and rebound. In small to moderate suspension movements, the springs and dampers work conventionally, independent of the hydraulic cushions.

When greater oscillations work the suspension closer to the end of its travel, the hydraulic cushions essentially allow more suspension travel before the bump stops, gradually slowing the movements to accommodate larger bumps and dips in the road.

Citroen Advanced Comfort closeup

When those movements are completed at the suspension level, the energy from the road irregularities are transferred to the vehicle’s body – a stiffer body gives the suspension a better, more rigid platform to work from, which is where the structural body shell bonding comes in.

The process applied by Citroën is a sort of hybrid one, where adhesive bonds are applied discontinuously and structural welds pick up where the adhesive has left off. Citroën says that the electrical welds help ensure optimum rigidity during assembly.

Citroën cites a number of advantages to this technique. The company claims an average 20% improvement in body stiffness without increasing weight, which in turn makes the suspension setup process less complex. Additionally, the bonding technique reduces the number of electrical welds required, thus reducing manufacturing cost – Citroën says this allows expenditure for the new suspension on all new models.

At the third and final stage where road oscillations reach the occupants via the seats, Citroën took inspiration from the bedding world, specifically the memory foam used in mattresses.

Seat fabric

With multiple layers of polyurethane foam, viscoelastic or textured foam, bedding technology was mirrored to develop memory seats that adapt to the occupant’s body shape for optimum support. The seats’ memory properties ensure that they regain their original shape and subsequently adapt to the next user.

Citroën says the programme has four objectives – to filter out external interference; to simplify life on board with space and storage solutions; to enhance the driving experience with intuitive technology and driving aids; and to ensure the driver’s peace of mind with a relaxed cabin ambience and by minimising distraction.

These innovations have been applied to a prototype C4 Cactus known as the Citroën Advanced Comfort Lab, and Citroën says these will be progressively introduced to every model in its range, from the C1 city car and onwards; ultimately to deliver unrivalled levels of comfort for owners of all Citroën models.

The first series production model to benefit from the programme isn’t far off; the facelifted C4 Picasso range due to go on sale in the UK on September 1 will gain certain elements researched in the Citroën Advanced Comfort programme.

GALLERY: 2016 Citroën C4 Picasso, Grand C4 Picasso facelift