DS: it will take quite a while for people to get the hang of the fact that the DS 4 is not a Citroën.
Well, sorry, DS, it sort of still is… in that it is the current crop of derivatives of that marque, with new styling and badging. If you google DS, you find yourself starting off on the Citroën website.
Be that as it may, DS says it aims to produce ‘premium’ vehicles, a tough ask indeed. Immediately that makes us think of the German trio’s cars in their corresponding sectors. With the best will in the world (writing as an admirer of many of Citroën’s sometimes quirky products over the decades), build quality has not always in the past been up to that mark.
Enough of that…the new DS 4 is in fact sufficiently changed from its Citroën predecessors to be allowed to stand on its own as such.
The DS 4 is available in two forms, a hatchback and the Crossback, the former’s ride height being lower by 30mm.
Driving both cars one after the other revealed no obvious differences, although DS tells us that the Crossback is aimed at ‘adventurous’ people (does this mean that hatchback buyers will be unadventurous people?).
So, to concentrate on the Crossback, the test car’s full nomenclature goes like this: Crossback BlueHDI 120 6-speed, manual. On-the-road at £24,315, including optional Tourmaline Orange metallic paint (£520) and Keyless Entry and Start (£300).
This is one of the tough sectors of the car market and DS knows full well that it has to produce cars that offer at least as much value as the opposition in terms of performance and equipment. The ever-more-important refinement that we are getting as the years roll by. (Compare on the road any new car in any sector with, say, a fifteen years older example and you will know what I mean.)
Does the DS 4 succeed? Up to a point, the answer is yes.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but, for me, DS has a range of very attractive cars, with this one certainly included. If the orange colour is a bit bright, there are in fact thirty-eight colour combinations, with four different roof colours, to make your car personal to you. I much like the fact that the transition between roof and body colour is not hidden behind a chrome strip or suchlike. It’s said, it takes five painters seven hours to achieve this on the flat bodywork.
Interiors differ, too, and the first test car’s seats in the Prestige trim were of the ‘Watchstrap’ design — imagine a typical metal strap with its interlinking pieces, translated into a leather car seat. Another claim (although why should I doubt it?) is that, whichever of three grades of leather you opt for, the end product is the result of twenty-one hours’ work.
Owners of the now-defunct Citroen DS 4 will notice that the instrument panel has been completely re-designed; it is simpler, thanks to having twelve fewer buttons on the dashboard. There is a seven-inch touch screen and the instrument lighting can be varied.
Externally, the DS 4 has the latest headlamp technology on offer. The avant-garde design that DS tells us is of number one importance to it is there, still, thank heavens, because it would be boring if manufacturers got into the habit of just copying one another’s success points.
Refinement and attention to detail is another of the company’s pre-requisites and, again, up to a point, it has succeeded. Driving the car was enjoyable and easy. It was pretty quiet, smooth and comfortable (DS mentions ‘hyper comfort’ which is pushing it a bit). The steering was nicely-weighted and accurate, the handling was secure and sporting.
The Crossback is really only a 2+2 in its seating capacity. The front seats are comfortable and the front cabin is spacious for two adults. Although DS claims it to be a four-seater, space in the back is quite severely limited and, although it is a four-door vehicle, the rear is not very easy to access as a passenger. Boot space is more than adequate, but there is no spare wheel, only a puncture repair kit. A space-saver wheel is an optional extra.
Performance stats are: the 4-cylinder 1560 CC, 120 bhp diesel engine can get you to 62 mph in 10.9 seconds via a very nice six-speed gearbox; the exhaust emission figure of 103g/km means the lowest of annual VEDs that we pay; the official combined fuel consumption figure of 72.4 is only to be taken as a guide with which to compare rivals. On my two similar runs in reasonably testing conditions, the DS 4’s trip computer told me that I had got 40.8 with a 150 bhp engine and 40.3 mpg with the 120 bhp unit. The car’s tank capacity is a useful 13.2 gallons.
Service intervals are 20,000 miles, and the insurance group is E24.
Car test reports can’t escape the connectivity angle. DS is, naturally, into all of this and offers a range of options such as Apple CarPlay enabling the driver to keep in touch with the outside world via iPhone. As we now begin to expect, there is an SOS system should you break down or, hopefully never, become involved in a serious accident. To keep in touch with what is directly behind you when reversing, you get a high definition colour camera to reveal all.
The DS 4 Crossback has quite a lot going for it: looks, safety and convenience equipment, and would certainly be the answer for someone who wants something just that bit different.
Prices start at less than £20,000. Negotiate!
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