Stylish, alternative choice of family hatchback based on the more mainstream Citroen C4.
The DS 4 has been something of an oddity ever since its 2011 launch, with people struggling to attribute the car to a sector, or understand how it fits alongside the more traditional Citroen C4 hatchback model.
It’s a hatchback, with a coupe-like look and a raised height, making it crossover-esque. Confused? So are we. The DS 4’s identity has become even more obscure with the introduction of the new 2015 Crossback, a variant which is specifically aimed at offering crossover appeal with roof bars and a 30mm increase in ground clearance. The standard DS 4 hatchback gets some minor updates as part of its 2015 facelift as well, with a redesigned interior, new ‘DS Wings’ front-grille and headlights.
Rivals, then, are up for debate, but we reckon it competes with models including the MINI Countryman and Mazda CX-3 But the DS 4 is not the cheapest option around and will have many people sitting on the fence and contemplating whether it is different and appealing enough to pull them away from brands like MINI and Nissan.
There are both petrol and diesels on offer, diesel being the most prevalent, with the bestselling derivatives expected to be either the 118bhp 1.6-litre BlueHDi or the 148bhp 2.0-litre BlueHDi – both with six-speed manual gearboxes. Petrol highlights include an entry-level 1.2-litre PureTech 128bhp and a punchy 207bhp 1.6-litre THP unit, capable of reaching 62mph from a standing start in just 7.8 seconds.
For most, the choice really will come down to the 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesels. The 118bhp diesel gives you all the power you will ever need in a hatchback, with a zero to 62mph sprint time of 10.9 seconds and enough oomph for swift overtaking. However, if you drive the 148bhp 2.0-litre, the added grunt and noticeably shaven sprint time of 8.8 seconds may tempt you.
Although the six-speed manual gearbox is expected to be the most popular, which is slick enough up and down the gears - albeit with a slightly long throw, an EAT6 automatic is also available and may be more appealing to those who are after
On the diesel front, the DS 4 is great, but something like the MINI Countryman has a lot more to offer when it comes to fun petrols, with the Cooper S model offering 187bhp and a benchmark sprint time of just 7.5 seconds. The 1.2-litre PureTech is a great engine for nipping about town in though.
Ride and Handling
The DS 4 has a ride known for being on the firm side, and it remains that way. Take it on a smooth country road and it can glide over small humps, but throw a few grids or potholes its way and the ride gets very unsettled. The new Crossback model handles adverse road conditions a tad better though and it takes more to upset comfort.
The steering has similar character traits as well. At lower speeds the steering feels weighty, but get up to speed on a winding road and it lightens up – not what you want. It does the job though when it comes to city driving and motorway driving. The new Crossback is also superior to the hatchback when it comes to deadening wind and road noise.
Although body roll is minimal and front-end grip is very good, the DS 4 does not replicate the fun feel of its smaller DS 3 brother – which is a little disappointing. For day-to-day driving the DS 4 is fine, but don’t get too overzealous.
The new Crossback model handles adverse road conditions a tad better though and it takes more to upset comfort. The Crossback certainly is comfier.
Did you know?
The first DS model was produced between 1955 and 1975 and came available in a convertible body style.
Interior And Equipment
As you would expect, the interior of the DS 4 offers a slightly plusher feel to the likes of the C4 hatchback. The dashboard has a soft touch finish, the seats are comfortable, the centre console has a carbon effect finish and all models now come with a seven-inch touchscreen as standard.
The layout of the buttons on the dashboard is now more streamlined, with a similar de-cluttering approach to Peugeot’s taking place. What was once a cluster of buttons is now one easy to fathom strip.
Kit levels are easy to understand as there are just two to choose from: Elegance and Prestige. Standard kit on every model includes sat-nav, dual-zone air-con, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth and cruise control. Prestige brings the likes of a leather steering wheel finish, 18-inch alloys, an LED fog light upgrade, a reversing camera and inner mood lighting.
The Crossback model is based on the Prestige trim, so it gains all of the above plus some unique Crossback touches like badging and aluminium front door sill protectors. As with MINI models, the DS 4 has a long options list, which can really rack the price up, with the likes of leather upholstery being around £1,000. As part of the facelift, DS has added some two-tone colour schemes to the body, allowing for up to 38 different combinations.
Rear passengers will feel claustrophobic thanks to windows that don’t open – which according to the DS brand is because DS 4 is a coupe. Still, leg and headroom in the back is decent and boot size is a respectable 359 litres, nine litres more than the MINI Countryman. The ubiquitous VW Golf hatchback has 380 litres, as a point of reference.
Go for what is expected to be one of the most popular models, the 1.6-litre diesel, in the Elegance trim and it is going to cost upwards of £21,245 – although entry-level models are available from £19,495. That is pretty pricey when you consider that the MINI Countryman starts from almost £2,500 less.
CO2 wise both the 1.6-litre 118bhp and the 2.0-litre 148bhp diesel offer emissions as low as 100g/km. The claimed average mpg figures for these engines are similar as well at around 73mpg. Unfortunately there isn’t an uber-efficient, sub 100g diesel available, which for those after a good all-rounder in terms of practicality, luxury and efficiency, may out them off.
DS expects the Crossback model, which starts from £21,745, to rake in about a quarter of DS 4 sales in its first year – which is around 1,000 units. If it were up to us, we would go for the Crossback 1.6-litre diesel (£23,495).
Entry-level models are available from £19,495. That is pretty pricey when you consider that the MINI Countryman starts from almost £2,500 less.
The main topic of discussion with the DS 4 will be its high list price. Considering today’s competitive marketplace, it will be hard to convince many buyers that this car is worth the money.
But let’s not get too fixated on price – for some people this may not be the biggest issue. The DS 4 does have plenty of strong points. It’s a great cruiser that offers an enjoyable experience behind the wheel, it has a comfortable interior and let’s not forget its dapper looks. The Crossback is an interesting addition as well, offering more comfort and a slightly more rugged appeal in terms of styling.
The DS 4 is not the most unique model out there, but it is different to its competition and will appeal to those who love a bit of French flair.