French flair meets the premium compact segment in the stylish shape of this new DS 4 Cross E-Tense 225
Car Reviewed: DS 4 Cross Rivoli E-Tense 225 PHEV
DS Automobiles, the company behind the DS 4, has already given us an early look at how the DS4 shapes up and drives.
This time, let’s take a closer look at the UK spec now the model’s officially on sale, at the same time focusing on this top edition of the smart new DS 4 family.
First though, a quick refresher. What exactly is the DS 4? The answer it’s a French-speaking premium hatch brought to you by Stellantis. This giant European automotive group now controls the fortunes of Peugeot, Citroën, Fiat, Abarth, Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Vauxhall, Chrysler and Maserati.
While underneath the DS 4 is mechanically similar to the new Peugeot 308 and Vauxhall Astra, the aim of the DS 4 is to create a more innovative, more upscale premium hatch to target the likes of the BMW 1-Series, Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class.
That’s a big ask but with French designer fashion a huge and seductive thing in the market, why not apply it to the automotive sector?
Interesting idea. Hence the range of DS Automobiles, cars which encompass the smaller DS3 and larger DS 7 and DS 9 offerings, plus this Golf-sized DS 4 somewhere in the middle, which kicks off at just £26,860 on the road.
Petrol, hybrid and diesel variants are on offer, as DS looks to cover the market, but no pure electric version, or at least, not yet.
Our chariot of choice this time is the uppermost DS 4 Cross Rivoli E-Tense 225. This is a 1.6-litre Plug-In Hybrid with a sticker price of £42,200 but as tested, with options, came out at an even more challenging £45,245.
Flick through the DS 4 e-brochure and you find three different versions: DS4, Performance Line and Cross, each with its own trim level options, so you are hardly lacking in choice. Comprehensive is one way to describe the DS range. As in very.
Tick the DS 4 Cross box, and you’re getting a kind of SUV-inspired hatch with side skirts, front and rear skid plates, black roof bars and black bumpers to ramp up the visual action.
From there, your choice is Trocodero with cloth trim or the more up-spec Rivoli, as here, with black leather interior and unique 19-inch LIMA diamond cut alloys.
Worth it? In the metal, the DS 4 really does catch the eye with its compact, elegant shape, finely crafted character lines, unique lighting and upscale presence.
The DS cabin is also a pretty special place, artfully designed and specced out. The seats are plush and there’s a sweeping, uncluttered dash and a maze of exciting tech.
DS Smart Touch, for instance, is a small touchscreen below the centre console that lets you configure data shown on the main screen. This you can use like an iPhone, which links with the car’s innovative DS Iris system. An infotainment system operated via the main central touchscreen or by voice commands.
Fit and finish are good and the cabin has a classy air and feel to it, although the more basic everyday stuff such as rear cabin space and luggage hauling is nothing too much out of the ordinary.
There’s a decent punch from the 1.6-litre plug-in hybrid drivetrain, good for 225 bhp and muscular 360 Nm of torque, with DS quoting 7.7 secs for the 0-62 mph sprint.
Shifting gears, you can have any transmission you like in the DS 4 so long as it’s an eight-speed automatic, no manual being on offer.
By default, the DS 4 starts up in Electric mode, and theoretically you then have some 35-40 miles of silent emission-free running, assuming the battery is fully charged (0-100% takes just short of 2 hours via a 7kW wall charger, DS says).
Or you can run in Hybrid mode (petrol engine + 110 bhp electric motor variably working together). Sport mode beefs up the accelerator/steering/gearshift settings. At the same time, Comfort is a more sophisticated variation on Hybrid, using DS Active Scan Suspension to ‘read’ the road and automatically adjust ride comfort. Clever stuff.
As you might expect, there’s an inherent softness to the ways of the DS 4. The steering feels light, although accurate and well connected and through bends, there’s some degrees of body lean and understeer to adapt to should you start to push on. But then this is a French car, non?
Ride comfort, however, is excellent, the cabin is quiet and the DS 4 feels poised and sophisticated, although you do find some small details like control weighting are not quite up with Germanic level.
Whisper it, but you can get a lot of what the DS 4 is all about without shelling out a steep £45k on this particular loaded-up, full kit edition, as attractive as it is.
In the big picture, the DS 4 comes over as an appealing, compact high-grade package that says something new and different on the road. Full confession alert: I liked it….Bonne route!
As a motoring journalist, he’s been writing about cars for a long time, starting in London in fact around the time the Sex Pistols first began limbering up….
Thereafter his journalistic remit has covered both new and classic cars, some historic motorsport reporting plus a long spell in Tokyo, covering the Japanese car industry for a range of global media outlets. Peter is a car writer and tester in the UK. Gooner, Alfisti and former Tokyo resident. If it has wheels, then he is interested.