Citroen DS4 raises the game

Go back a few decades and Citroen had something of a split personality. At one end of the scale they produced the Citroen 2CV, one of the most basic cars you could imagine. At the other end of their range was the Citroen DS, a forward-thinking, luxuriously-appointed technological masterpiece.

In recent years, it seems that Citroen has focussed on the lower-cost end of the scale, producing worthy but frankly unexciting transport.

Citroen DS4

Now, however, they have gone back into their history and latched onto the famous DS badge to define a new stream of vehicles. Under this plan the Citroen C models will continue to fulfil the requirement for everyday transport, while a new, parallel DS range will offer a more ‘aspirational’ option.

I tested the Citroen DS3 in this blog, some time ago and liked it. This time I am taking a look at the latest DS, the bigger DS4.

Like its smaller sibling, the Citroen DS4 has a certain presence with its sharper styling and a ‘family likeness’ to the DS3. Based on the C4, the DS3 has been raised by just over 30 mm, which gives it a distinctly taller appearance.

The rear door handles are concealed, in the way pioneered by Alfa Romeo, to give a more sporty two door appearance. Something that is bound to bring occasional complaints from those in the back is that the rear windows are fixed.

Citroen DS4 interior

Inside, too, the DS4 looks the part with a more up-market, inviting appearance. However, I found the driving position rather a neat fit. I really needed at least an inch more between myself and the pedals. I would also have liked a little more space to slide my clutch foot off the pedal and onto the floor.

Unfortunately, the space issues continue in the back and it was just impossible to slide my legs behind the driver’s seat when it was set reasonably far back.

Thankfully, the boot is usefully dimensioned, although there is a pronounced sill over which loads have to be lifted.

Visibility seems to be a growing problem on many recent designs and the Citroen DS4 falls into this trap. Those heavy rear pillars may look stylish, but they pose a real problem for over-shoulder visibility. At one notable point, I found myself completely blind when trying to emerge from a parking spot on the right-hand side of the road.

With a sporting image honed by the likes of Sebastian Loeb on the World Rally Championship the question is, how does the DS4 drive? The test car was the Citroen DS4 DStyle with the 163bhp 2.0 HDi engine. This really is a great power unit. With a light touch on the throttle, it pulls strongly from low speeds and is so responsive and refined that you sometimes wonder if Citroen have secretly switched it for a petrol engine.

Acceleration 0-62 mph time is quoted at 9.3 second, with the DS4 capable of a top speed of 132 mph. With a power unit like this, the DS4 should be a great companion on B-roads and, in many respects, it is.

Citroen DS4

The steering is nicely weighted and precise and the grip is excellent. However, that extra height is noticeable as the cornering forces build up, leaving one wondering if a higher centre of gravity was a good idea. The ride quality is impressive, with only the occasional loss of composure on the worst of our pock-marked roads.

Economy is also impressive. The combined consumption figure is 55.4 mpg. Driving on a mixture of town and country roads I managed 37 mpg, which seems pretty good, particularly as I admit I was enjoying the performance and handling of the Citroen DS4. Carbon dioxide emissions are 134 g/km, which puts the DS4 into band F for UK road tax.

The price of the Citroen DS4 DStyle 2.0 HDi is £22,950. That’s £1,700 more than the equivalent Citroen C4. But, it is a measure of Citroen’s success that if feels maybe £1700 more desirable.

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