The finest wines, haute couture, great grub – France is now giving us another luxury item, the DS 4
This marque is the premium car brand of the Peugeot Group, part of the phenomenal Stellantis organisation which now owns a whole swathe of European carmakers.
Not surprisingly, this gives DS access to come of the best design and technology in the market and the new DS 4 reflects this.
Once known simply for its connection with Citroen, DS is now pushing through in its own right and successfully challenging other premium models with sales rising steadily year on year.
The DS 4 is the fourth model in the company’s stable alongside the DS 9, the DS 3 Crossback and the DS 7 Crossback.
It comes in three models – the traditional hatch with lots of expensive-looking chrome, the Crossback, a more rugged-looking SUV-style with roof bars, black bumpers, skid plates and a gloss black roof and the Performance with its black grille, DS wings and design cues on the Alcantara sports seats.
There are three powertrains – petrol, diesel and hybrid – all sporting the kind of refinement you would be hard-pressed to find in a similar C-segment car and a suite of three plush interiors as well. Gone are all the fussy knobs and switches which seemed to date the DS and instead is an uncluttered and clean cabin that is a joy to sit in.
There still remains that wonderful diamond mesh finishes around the toggles and gear switch which has always been a signature of this brand but now it is more sophisticated, elegant and thoroughly French.
The exterior has flush handles, that wonderful DS light show that greets you when you approach the car, big wheels and like the interior, smooth clean lines.
Tech-wise too the new DS 4 is endowed. Among its attributes are DS Smart Touch, a second smaller screen on the central console where you can call up stuff on the central screen by using your fingers as you would with an iPhone – so swipe, contract and increase. You can also write on it if you so desire.
The main DS Iris system is also very clever. It is a 10-inch touchscreen which you can configure as you wish – like Facebook with various windows – and inset sat-nav, radio, climate – in six different ways.
A Home button takes you back in an instant to the main menu and Iris will respond to your voice for weather reports, temperature adjustment and many other simple requests.
The other great techy thing in this car is the Head-Up Display projected on the screen in front of you and – again – can be configured to your wishes.
I drove the 1.6-litre award-winning petrol PureTech engine in this car which is just terrific. It is peppy and agile. After that, I went into the hybrid E-Tense with its regenerative braking and smooth and silent cabin.
It would be hard to choose between them. The top-of-the-range E-Tense PHEV with its 1.6-litre petrol engine and electric motor has only 31g/km of emissions – a figure which more and more people are looking at – and the PureTech which is sweet and easy with a great mpg but no need to plugin.
And there’s a diesel- yes a diesel- for those who still yearn for its great mileage delights.
This is French practicality with great chic. The DS 4 looks terrific and the luxe feeling of the interior remains the same no matter which model you opt for. No wonder DS is so rapidly winning hearts and minds.
Maggie Barry is an Award winning journalist, she regularly travels in Europe and beyond to test drive cars. A former lecturer in journalism and motoring editor of Media Scotland she has written for and contributed to the Daily Record and Sunday Mail among others. She is on the panel judging the Scottish Car of the Year and Women’s World Car of the Year. She lives near Glasgow with her husband and several cars.