What is it?
It’s the next stage in Citroen’s DS range, following the likeable and successful DS3. The DS4 is derived from the recently-launched and unremarkable C4, and like the DS3 it brings an upmarket cabin ambience and lots of design flourishes. This time, however, instead of a sporty three-door hatchback it’s a five-door with a highish ‘crossover’ stance, a coupé-like roofline and hidden rear door handles. Despite that unpromising loftiness, the idea is that the DS4 should be a rousing drive for the keen driver.
The DS4 weighs no more than the lower-set C4, nor indeed than the previous-generation C4. It has a simple torsion-beam rear suspension but great things are promised of it. The steering uses hydraulic rather than electric assistance, although electricity powers the pump. The usual PSA engine range consists of three 1.6-litre petrol units (118, 154 and 197bhp, the last two turbocharged) and two turbodiesels (108bhp 1.6 and 158bhp 2.0). The rear windows don’t open – as is obvious when you see that the glass would have nowhere to go. This saves 3kg per door.
What’s it like to drive?
Expectations were mixed, because the DS3 is a satisfying drive and the C4 is a bit of a dullard. But within a mile or two of driving the DS4, you wonder if Citroen deliberately made the C4 worse than it should be just to emphasise how good the DS4 is. Because it is a genuinely entertaining drive, with a deft precision I really wasn’t expecting given the relatively lofty build. It leans little on entry into corners, but this is achieved not by extra-stiff anti-roll bars, which would ruin the ride, but by unusually well-judged damping which keeps the big-wheeled DS4 supple over bumps but beautifully controlled in its body movements. The steering is precise and feels natural in its progressive build-up of weighting, and the front wheels track keenly around a tightening bend. You can lean hard on the DS4 and not run out of bite. The 197bhp petrol engine, similar to that in the Citron DS3 Racing and Mini John Cooper Works, is as crisp and feisty as ever with ample torque, smooth revvability and great overtaking ability. Cruising is quiet and serene, and the DS4 is very comfortable.
Top speed 146mph, 0-62mph in 7.9sec, 149g/km CO2. Fast enough for most needs, then. How does it compare? Maybe the question should be, what do we compare the DS4 with? Mini Countryman? Nissan Qashqai? Golf GTI five-door? Peugeot 3008? It crosses all those genres. You’d probably enjoy the Golf more but the DS4 is in many ways a credible alternative given the way the market is fragmenting. Lower CO2 emissions, too.
Anything else I need to know?
UK sales start in the summer with prices starting around £18,400. The top THP 200 DSport majored-on here will cost about £24,000.
Read more: http://www.evo.co.uk/carreviews/evocarreviews/267526/new_citroen_ds4_review_and_pictures.html