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DS 4 review

Citroën’s premium brand steps up its game again with the DS 4.

A touch of class: the new DS 4.

A touch of class: the new DS 4.

If you are unfamiliar with the DS name, it’s Citroën’s premium brand. But don’t think that you will reveal a Citroën badge if you scrape away at the DS logo. When viewed next to a BMW 1 Series, you can’t help but notice that it’s the French car that has all the personality.

The DS 4 has been given a makeover with a quirky, chiselled appearance. It sports a large, mean-looking grille and tooth-like sidelights, which drop down from the headlights like squared teardrops, and interesting creases down the side of the doors.

There are also three different ‘types’ of the new DS 4. There is the standard line; the Performance Line (which has a more athletic styling) and the Cross (which offers various styling features you’d expect of a typical Crossback).

The standard version comes with four trims. Bastille Plus features LED headlights, 17-inch alloys, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and rear parking sensors. Then the Trocadero trim ups the rims to 19 inches, throwing in a second touchscreen with sat nav, a head-up display, keyless entry, front parking sensors and a reversing camera. Rivoli trim includes acoustic glass, adaptive cruise control, lane-position assist and rear cross-traffic protection. You also get 3D LED rear lights on the top-of-the-range La Premiere trim.

With the Performance Line, you get two trims. The first includes a seven-inch digital cockpit, a 10-inch touchscreen and 19-inch alloys. Performance Line Plus adds a heads-up display and matrix LED lights.

The Cross version comes in the Trocadero and Rivoli trims previously mentioned, while also including more rugged off-road-geared elements, like skid plates.

There’s also a choice of five engines, including a plug-in hybrid.

The petrol models feature a 131PS three-cylinder engine (47mpg, producing 136g/km of CO2) and two four-cylinder engines producing 181PS (43.4mpg, 147g/km CO2) and 224PS (42.8mpg 149g/km CO2).

There is also a 131PS four-cylinder diesel (58.8mpg, 126g/km CO2) and a four-cylinder 224PS turbocharged petrol-hybrid (217.2mpg, 30g/km CO2).

The hybrid model, driven for this review, will do a claimed 38 miles in all-electric mode. But even when the engine is on, it is still extremely quiet, while the car gets from a standstill to 62mph in a healthy 7.7 seconds. The electric motor provides instant torque, too.

The DS hybrid dishes out a decent amount of power suited to all speeds, as well as superb fuel economy. The petrol engines are good, but the diesels may be preferable to those whose driving distances will outlast the capacity of the hybrid’s batteries.

You also get something in the DS that the French automaker calls Active Scan. This is a camera system that examines the road ahead, looking for lumps, bumps and potholes and then adjusts the suspension accordingly. The technology adds to the DS 4’s ride comfort, which is quite spongy and absorbs imperfections in the carriageway well.

In terms of handling, there is no natural sportiness to the driving experience, but the steering is accurate, if not overflowing with feedback. The gear changes are smooth, and the DS takes bends well with plenty of grip. But the model isn’t designed to be chucked around corners like a hot hatch. That said, it does limit the body lean quite well.

As for the interior, well, it is enough to raise eyebrows – in an extremely good way. It looks classy and sophisticated. In addition, you get plenty of soft-to-the-touch materials, which add to the premium quality feel.

The screens are embedded within the DS 4’s dashboard, and there's a real cockpit-like feel about it, especially when using the heads-up display. All the screens are clear and high-resolution, while you can set up shortcuts using the second touchscreen to quickly get to the menus you want. Nevertheless, it’s a good thing that physical dials remain for the climate control system.

The seats are incredibly comfy in the front and you don’t feel hemmed in. However, the seats are on the large side, which doesn't help those sitting in the back. You will struggle to get any part of your legs underneath the chairs, meaning you can’t hunker down into the rear if you are very tall. Mind you, at least there is plenty of headroom to make up for it.

The new DS 4’s boot’s capacity is 430 litres, expanding to 1,230 litres, with the rear seats folded down in a 60/40 split. However, it is worth noting that the hybrid’s boot is 40 litres less than this because of the space required for the batteries.

Euro NCAP is yet to crash-test the new DS 4, but there is no reason to think it won’t be a very safe car. Why? Well, a DS 3 Crossback was tested a couple of years back and got a top five-star rating with impressive scores.

The DS 4 comes with driver attention alert, hill-start assist, lane-keep assist and automatic emergency braking as standard. But you will have to pay extra for an additional safety pack that brings rear traffic alert, advanced emergency braking, extended traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control along with it.

Overall, the DS 4 is a strong contender which, while falling slightly short of the premium brands, provides a decent middle ground between the Germans and the rest of the field.

The DS is sophisticated and drives well, and it looks and feels like a well-designed, quality product. What’s more, the car boasts lots of tech and has exciting aesthetics to match, both inside and outside.

The likes of BMWs, Audis and Mercedes-Benz are everywhere nowadays, so the exclusivity isn’t necessarily there. You can’t say the same about the latest DS 4, though.

DS 4 E-Tense 225 (Rivoli trim as tested)
Max speed 145 mph
Acceleration 0-62 mph in 11.6 seconds
Combined mpg 217.2 mpg (38-mile all-electric
Engine layout 1,598cc 4-cylinder petrol/electric
Max power 224 PS
CO2 emissions 30 g/km
Price £40,695

About the Author

Tim Barnes-Clay

Tim Barnes-Clay is a motoring journalist. He test-drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches worldwide.