Pros: handsome, refined, comfortable, lots of tech
Cons: rear seat space, boot space, lack of brand awareness
DS began in 1955 with the original Citroen DS saloon — a car that could justifiably still be called ahead of its time. DS is now its own brand, and is the luxury arm of what was the PSA Group and which is now part of the vast Stellantis conglomerate. This DS 4 — the second generation of car to use that name — is the brand’s competitor to the likes of the BMW X2 and Mercedes-Benz GLA.
DS 4 Design
Really, the DS 4 is all about design — after all, you can buy exactly the same mechanical package with a Peugeot, Citroen, or Opel badge on the front, so it’s with the two weapons of design and refinement that DS is going to have to fight is corner. Certainly, the 4 has the whole design thing down pat — it’s not conventionally pretty, in the manner of a Mazda or Alfa Romeo, but it is distinctive, imposing and different. DS has decided to split the difference between a low, sleek hatchback and a high-riding SUV, giving the DS 4 quite high ground clearance (on wheels that are up to 20 inches in diameter), but a low, sleek roof. That, for now, makes it stand out in the crossover market, and allows it to exploit better aerodynamics for greater efficiency.
DS 4 Interior
The interior is genuinely gorgeous. From the deep seats, with the ‘watch-strap’ quilting and leather upholstery, to the digital instruments and screen, to the fact that almost everything you touch is swathed in leather or man-made suede, the DS 4 easily underlines that it’s a premium product. The quality of all the materials used is exceptionally good, and if the touchscreen is a little fiddly, and the digital instrument panel oddly small, then those are made up for by the excellent head-up display that projects your speed, warnings and navigation directions onto the windscreen. There are neat touches such as discreetly hidden central air vents, while between the seats there’s an extra digital touchscreen that allows you to access menu shortcuts on the bigger central screen. The downside is that space in the back seats is nothing special, and the 390-litre boot is a touch small for a car in this class.
DS 4 Performance & Drive
DS Ireland expects to sell around 100 DS 4s when the car arrives on our shores for January, and almost all of those will be this plug-in hybrid E-Tense model. It uses the same 1.6-litre petrol engine, 12.4kWh battery and 82kW electric motor as found in the likes of the Peugeot 508 PHEV and the Opel Grandland Hybrid. Electric performance is good — DS says you can get 55km from a fully charged battery, and that seems realistic — and when you’re using it as a hybrid for longer journeys, it’s pretty economical. Over a lengthy test route, we recorded 5.1 litres per 100km.
The DS 4 is also exceptionally comfortable. There’s an optional system that uses a camera in the windscreen to read the road ahead, and that camera can send a warning of upcoming bumps or potholes to the adaptive suspension. It works very well indeed, giving the DS 4 a mostly serene ride comfort that’s only occasionally upset by small, sharp intrusions.
Performance is generally very good, as is refinement, and if the DS 4 doesn’t quite feel BMW-sharp through the corners, then it is at least solid and planted at all times, and much comfier than most of its German opposition.
DS 4 Pricing
Prices and specifications for Ireland won’t be announced until closer to the DS 4’s January on-sale date, but with a starting price in France of €29,000, we’d expect it to arrive here at around €34,000. The head-up display will be standard on all but the basic model, and there will also be a ‘Cross’ version that has some 4x4-ish styling touches to try and make the DS 4 more appealing to SUV buyers.
Carzone Verdict: 4/5
The Irish market will always be something of an uphill struggle for DS, as trying to convince Ireland’s car buyers that a posh French hatchback is what they want will never be easy. That said, the DS 4 stands a good chance of finding a successful niche for itself. It’s not for everyone, but its mixture of style, quality, comfort and refinement is compelling.