The Citroen DS4 - A Grown-Up Crossover
The Citroen DS4 - A Grown-Up Crossover
February 12, 2014
It’s no secret that I am a fan of Citroen cars; I own a C1 and am entirely happy with it, within the constraints of a city car. You know, Citroen are very much like Chelsea Football Club, of which I have been a supporter pretty much forever. Like Chelsea, Citroen had their glory days followed by many, many years in the doldrums of the Xantia and Xsara era. Now thanks to the sainted José, Chelsea are back where they belong and Citroen, thanks predominantly to the DS3, are back in favour too. With the imminent arrival of the on-trend Cactus, the Company may very well be on a roll. For the most part Citroen’s designers can usually be relied upon to come up with stylish goods and such is the case with the DS4.
The car in the images is the DS4 DSport HDI 160 with a six speed auto ‘box. Essentially it is a high-riding five door hatchback based on the regular C4 but with the DS family facial features. As it is not an SUV, I suppose I will have to call it a ‘crossover’, for want of a better word. It‘s certainly very handsome from all angles. I like the way the roof-line sweeps down to the deep spoiler and the rounded haunches. The rear doors have ‘hidden’ handles for that sleek coupe look.
Specifications will obviously vary for the three trim options - DSign, DStyle and DSport - but on this car there are some nice touches. The 19” Cairns alloys are gorgeous (more on those later though) and the panoramic windscreen is a delight, giving the interior a light and airy aspect. In the unlikely event of being subjected to the glare of the sun however the visors not only hinge in the usual manner but also slide down to narrow the screen. Genius. The lid of the central cubby slides forward to make a handy armrest for both front seats. It’s possible to fiddle with the dashboard mood lighting too.
The rest of the interior is tidy and uncluttered. The seats are superb in Mistral & Red leather; really comfortable. They are heated, have electric lumbar adjustment but, rather oddly, only manual adjustment for height, reach and rake. At this money I would like to see all-electric adjustment. Still, it’s easy to get settled. In the back legroom is a bit stingy for the taller passenger although, despite the sloping roof, headroom is fine.
There’s plenty of storage and all the usual multi-media and comms are present as is a decent Denon Hi-Fi system. Around the back, boot capacity is down to 385 litres from the C4's 408 litres but the DS4 does come with split-folding rear seats as standard and the space on offer is still bigger than many of its rivals.
So, out on the road. The first thing to mention is the gearbox. It’s a six speed automatic that’s smooth in operation but otherwise unremarkable. What is remarkable is the manual option. Do you remember a few years ago how we all moaned about the arrival of, as JC himself put it, ‘flappy paddles’? Well, they’ve improved immensely and we are all used to them now. In fact, my fingers automatically reach for them these days on any automatic test car. So it came as a surprise to find that this DS4 had a sequential shift option. Slide the lever across, push to change up and pull to downshift. It works fine and enables more spirited driving but it just feels somehow like a step backwards. Paddles please.
The four cylinder 2.0L turbo-diesel on this option offers 163bhp, which is fine, and 251lb/ft of torque so progress can be brisk, reaching 62mph is just under ten seconds.
Thanks to up-rated suspension, the Citroen DS4 offers a sharper feel and is more agile from behind the wheel. Steering is nicely weighted and gives plenty of feel from the road with a precision that makes driving the DS4 a pleasure.
The ride is firm, which I personally don’t mind, and my only grumble really is that on sharp turns - roundabouts for example - there is a noticeable bit of body lean. I suppose that’s part of the ‘crossover’ compromise of comfort and handling. DSport and DStyle trims get an integrated automatic electric parking brake. Releasing this requires a touch of in-gear throttle which is a little sharp. All models get Hill Start Assist to hold you securely in place on steep inclines.
Nearby to me is a ‘B’ road I use as a trial. It has been patched and resurfaced so often that it‘s like riding a mogul ski run. I have the idea that when the latest round of touch-ups was undertaken a large number of sundry tools remained under the new tarmac. On the 19” wheels with 40 profile tyres the DS4 felt unsettled and lacking in composure although ride quality is fine on what remains of our well-surfaced highways. You could select smaller wheels which will help the ride although the 19’s are so good-looking you probably won’t.
I enjoyed my time with this car and was sorry to see it go. It is far better looking than many in this sector - especially with the optional pearlescent gloss black paint and it has a very comfortable and aesthetically pleasing interior. Performance, whilst not blistering, is fine for everyday driving and the whole package cruises well, meaning long trips are achieved with ease. It is interesting to note how much more positive the opinions of real-life owners of this car differ from those of some reviewers. On the whole I side with the former. The only blot on the paperwork is the price. The car you see in the images costs £27,920. Even taking away the cost of the special paint (£520), the Xenon directional headlights (£690) and the very expensive eMyWay Hi-Fi Signature pack (£1,190), it still runs to just over £25k. There’s a lot of great competition in this price bracket and it must affect sales of this car. The word is that, with the arrival of the Cactus at the budget end of the market the DS brand may upscale to differentiate. Personally I’d be happy with the price as is if it included the above plus full leather, electrically adjustable seats and a handling pack for the sports version. As you can see, I don’t ask for much.
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