Bold design can work wonders for a car… just ask Citroen. By taking the underpinnings of the C3, and adding spicy handling and a sharp new suit, it came up with a smash hit in the DS3 supermini. Now, the maker is aiming to replicate this success in the compact family car sector with the next DS model to hit showrooms.
The DS4 blends the space of a family car with the styling of a coupé and the jacked-up ride height of a crossover. It’s an odd mix, and makes picking direct rivals a tricky task. The French machine is effectively aiming to steal sales from a variety of sectors – and we’ve lined up two established competitors to test the mettle of the flagship 2.0-litre HDi DStyle.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Citroen DS4
First, it faces the best model in the compact family sector, and one of the most complete cars money can buy: the Volkswagen Golf. The desirable 2.0-litre TDI GT version looks good, promises impressive fuel economy and has a £900 price advantage over its Citroen rival.
The second car waiting to give the Citroen a run for its money is the Nissan Qashqai. It introduced families to the concept of crossover models, and is the best seller in its class, with 39,048 finding homes last year. Here, we test the 2.0-litre dCi n-tec, which weighs in at £255 less than the DS4.
DS4 vs Golf
1. Volkswagen Golf
Still the car all family models have to beat. The classy Golf has no flaws. It’s practical, superb to drive and affordable to run.
2. Citroen DS4
We're not convinced by the Citroen’s styling. Its high price, cramped rear and peaky engine are more obvious drawbacks.
DS4 vs Qashqai
1. Nissan Qashqai
The Qashqai was penned as an alternative to a family car, and it shows. Its looks and visibility come with few compromises.
2. Citroen DS4
First for style here, but the DS4 is a poor second for practicality. It makes more financial sense to company drivers than the Nissan.
After the storming success of the DS3 supermini, we were keen to see what the Citroen DS4 held in store. In trying to combine the best of coupé, hatchback and crossover worlds, the newcomer has a tough brief. The bad news for bosses is that it fails to deliver. It doesn’t provide enough rear space to work as small
family car, and this lack of versatility and space affects its abilities as a crossover, too. As an alternative to the C4, the DS4 offers clear benefits – it’s more stylish and engaging to drive than its regular five-door stablemate. But the sacrifices it demands of family buyers are too great, plus it’s not cheap. In reality, it’s more of a rival to three-door family cars than these contenders. We’re not sure why Citroen didn’t throw all its efforts into one standalone model. Then, perhaps, it may have produced a truly groundbreaking machine. As it stands, it has two cars that both fail to beat the big hitters in their respective classes. Although the firm deserves credit for trying something different, the DS4’s shortcomings give it niche appeal.