CITROEN has hit a rich vein with its snazzy DS3 hatchback – a car which outshines the MINI for affordable chic.
Now there’s another model about to arrive in the French car maker’s style stable in the shape of the larger DS4.
Based on the C4 family hatch the DS treatment not only adds plenty of panache but it also becomes the sports model of the range.
On sale from July 4 and priced from £18,150 to £23,950 it comes at a premium of some £400 over the straight laced version but gives owners the chance to customise the car to cut a dash.
There are also two performance engines which don’t feature in the C4 – a 200bhp turbo petrol and a 163bhp diesel.
We have just tried both and the pair is nicely potent while, in the case of the petrol version, there is a touch of venom.
Using all of its boost the DS4 THP 200 has a 0 to 60 time of 8.5 seconds topping out at 146mph yet with masses of torque from just 1,700 revs it flies through the gears.
The figures aren’t true hot hatch but on the road the experience is a different story.
And while the diesel is no slouch, its power comes to the fore later in the rev band and perhaps that makes it the better of the two for cruising.
It uses Citroen’s two-litre HDi engine tuned to deliver a top speed of 132mph with 0 to 60 taking 9.3 seconds.
The real benefit of the diesel is the added fuel economy, averaging 55.4 to the gallon compared to 44.1 for the petrol – both impressive figures taking performance into account.
Emissions come in at 134g/km for the diesel and 149 on the THP putting both into the 19 per cent tax band for business users.
The DS4 entry level model is the 1.6-litre VTi 120 in DSign trim which includes stability and traction controls, air conditioning and cruise control.
The higher powered engines are available in mid-range DStyle models priced from £22,950 in the case of the diesels but the THP 200 is the range topper and can be had only in DSport finish from £23,950 for a six speed manual.
All versions have LED running lights on the nose producing a very distinctive signature on the road.
The car is styled to impress with striking body lines.
It is much more coupe like than the C4, the body taller and a diffuser sits nicely below the rear bumper.
Although a five door the rear doors are almost invisible with concealed latch and blended shut lines which emphasise the overall sleekness.
Legroom in the rear is not over generous but the DS4 will seat five and the boot space ranges from 385 to 1,021 litres – slightly less if you go for the uprated Denon sound system which has a large woofer box in the luggage compartment.
Onboard, the instrumentation is utterly modern and the steering wheel – although quite busy with plenty of buttons for the entertainment, cruise control, trip computer and phone – has a flattened bottom adding a little extra street cred.
Electric parking brakes are standard on DStyle and DSport models and so are LED ambient interior lights, Bluetooth connectivity and there’s even a massaging function on the front seats.
The DSport model we drove was also fitted with a parking gap sensor which identifies spaces big enough to complete the manoeuvre – and warns if they are not.
However something must have got lost in the translation on the software which produced the message ‘Choice of the side by the direction indicator’ when it was engaged.
That is possibly the only gripe in a car which realistically is packed with feelgood factors ranging from the ability to change to backlight colour of the instruments to a panoramic windscreen which delivers a tremendous field of view helped by a slightly higher than normal driving position.
On the road the DS4 is definitely a car for the enthusiast with the suspension certainly on the sporty side when it comes to firmness and response.
Citroen is making great play that the DS range is for drivers who do not want to conform to any stereotype of a car and the option list for the DS4 enables it to be configured quite intimately.
Most of the extras are bundled into packs and can be used to really dress up the car with the likes of a special leather trim which has an embossed seat pattern that resembles a classy watch strap. That adds £590 to the DSport price and a full blown sat nav set up ranges from £850 to £1,190 depending on specification.
Although the DS4 is significantly more expensive than the DS3 it is almost in a niche of its own for four wheel fashionistas.
The MINI Countryman is currently the only car which can run it close – and while that can be had with the benefits of all-wheel-drive the Citroen is always going to have the edge when it comes to flair.