Citroen DS4 2.0 HDi

9 May, 2011 10:51am Paul Bond

We see if the newest member of the DS family can repeat the DS3’s success - and inject some fun into the conservative C4


The DS4 is an interesting addition to Citroen’s luxury sub-brand, but on the road it doesn’t deliver on the promise of its looks. The subtle mechanical changes over the standard C4 don’t go far enough to allow it to challenge proper coupés, and it’s better suited to relaxed cruising than committed driving. An ambitious attempt at something different – yet if you were looking for the fun factor of the DS3 in something bigger, you’ll be disappointed.

The second member of Citroen’s new dynasty has arrived! The high-riding DS4 is a more luxurious, grown-up model designed to build on the success of the MINI-rivalling DS3. And Auto Express has got behind the wheel for the first time.

Style is a huge part of the DS4’s appeal, and you’re instantly struck by the way it looks. In profile, it appears similar to the standard C4, but in fact it’s 60mm shorter, and 40mm taller. Up close, the curvy bodywork draws the eye, particularly at the back, and the permanent LEDs front and rear help it stand out.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Citroen DS4

The shapely roofline and hidden rear doors are meant to give the impression of a sleek coupé. But they contrast with the increased ride height, which provides a raised, if not quite commanding, view of the road.

Citroen claims the DS4 can straddle several segments, and deliver a sporty, involving driving experience without compromising on practicality. To help it achieve this, and boost the handling, it has a number of suspension tweaks.

The overall layout remains unchanged from the C4, but the DS model features firmer springs and shock absorbers, plus stiffer anti-roll bars, as standard. The electro-hydraulic power-steering has also been given an overhaul, and the flagship diesel model we drove gets its own unique, sportier set-up. On the move, the steering does offer better feedback through corners, but still feels over-assisted.

Under the bonnet is the familiar 2.0-litre diesel from the C4, now with an extra 10bhp, but that’s no bad thing. It has a narrow powerband, but mixes gutsy in-gear acceleration with 55.4mpg fuel economy. It’s also refined, while road noise is well suppressed, making for relaxing progress.

Despite the stiffer springs, the DS4’s set-up feels more focused on comfort than driving thrills; the ride is smooth, although standardl 19-inch wheels fitted to our car mean it occasionally bangs over bumps. The body leans into bends, though, and it lacks the precision of a dedicated coupé such as the Volkswagen Scirocco.

The interior is swathed in leather, while black headlining gives it a cocooned, luxurious feel. The door handles, side sills and centre console are all etched with DS logos, but some of the plastics lower down the dashboard aren’t of the quality you’d expect in a car costing £20,000-plus.

The DS4 is aimed at a different set of buyers to the DS3, so there’s less scope for personalisation in the cabin, although there are four different leather options for the ‘watch bracelet’-style seats. The styling also demands a number of sacrifices to practicality.

The boot offers 21 litres less luggage space than the C4’s, at 359 litres, but that's still bigger than most family hatches. Passengers in the back get a decent amount of room, too, although amazingly the aggressive C-pillar means you can’t open the rear windows to let air in.

At launch, there will be a choice of five engines, including the firm’s new 1.6-litre 110bhp e-HDi stop-start diesel. However, bosses predict this powerful oil-burner, and the 120bhp petrol model, will be the best sellers.

Rival: Alfa Romeo Giulietta
It doesn’t have a raised ride height, but Golf-sized Alfa hatch pulls off the same trick, blending coupé-like kerbside appeal and a roomy interior, for a similar price.

Disqus - noscript

"the aggressive C-pillar means you can’t open the rear windows to let air in."
What?!?!? Surely Citroen designers wouldn't do that ? This must be a mistake! Whats the point if you can't open the windows? Thats amazing - Citroen taking such a bug risk! This can't be right - it must be a pre-production model!

I am smitten by the look of this new Citröen! I like the DS3, but find it a little too over-done, this DS4 however looks purposeful, classy, handsome. And a few years down the line will continue to look good.

As for the rear window issue; initially I was shocked, but seriously, how often are rear windows ever lowered? It wouldn't put me off buying one.

that it's basically an old 307 under there. I recognise a lot of the switchgear that fell off after a few months.

Air-con as standard I assume - so no real point in opening windows other than to pay tolls (when will they start accepting Visa Pay-wave so I don't have to open the window?) or ask for directions (only women do that anyway?).

Maybe it's just me, but I can't get my head around the idea of a Citroen as a premium vehicle. It's unlikely to be reliable (which is surely the 1st expectation of an expensive vehicle). To me Citroen were best when quirky but affordable (the 2CV and many other small Citroens since) - like an Alfa for those less bothered by the driving experience!

A. premium Citroen - ha ha - have you ever owned one, I have!
B. windows don't open - try selling that to a child about to vomit with car sickness.
C. 'hidden' rear doors - how childish - they always just look like doors (you can't hide the shutlines) with the handles missing, which spoils the symmetry of the design. They are my design bete noir!

Pajbse if you understood the history you would know that Citroen have done luxury in the past. Such comments you make are drivel. People these days can't accept change these days. Auto Express I see a bias again towards the Germans. People are seeing this more and more again and are getting bored more. The BMW X6 is probably the most useless car ever invented as it doesn't off road yet gives the impression it does and yet u praise it. The DS4 doesn't and isn't meant to and yet you dismiss it. Mebbe a change of journalists is in order.

I live in Spain and most Spanish mags have given the DS4 a good review, and all over Europe the DS3 is outselling its German rival, as for the rear window, we have no children now and NEVER use rear windows, air con, my daughters have to disable there windows to stop our grandchildren playing with them, so whats the fuss.....rear windows do not open in a 3 door car this is a replacement for the C4 3 door.

I live in Spain and most Spanish mags have given the DS4 a good review, and all over Europe the DS3 is outselling its German rival, as for the rear window, we have no children now and NEVER use rear windows, air con, my daughters have to disable there windows to stop our grandchildren playing with them, so whats the fuss.....rear windows do not open in a 3 door car this is a replacement for the C4 3 door.

@worldrallyman, yes, what's the problem indeed? With modern air con systems it's kind of redundant to have opening rear windows. I seem to remember did Citröen's 2008 C-Cactus concept not having ANY opening windows as a weight saving measure?

Here in Norway there also appear to be plenty of DS3s, so they are surely doing something right, I'm very much looking forward to seeing this car in the metal.

does any1 think this fabulous car looks like a nissan juke in profile? This car will sell by the bucket load! just like its smaller sibling the DS3 I think citroen is back on fine form!!!!!!.Whats next from them?

The DS5 thats whats next, out November, and I have seen the DS4 in the metal and your right it will sell bucket loads and I might be one of the first in July...

Cool enjoy it let us know if its worth 20k m8

On this DS4 looks damn wonderful, I want!

inicholson: what a brilliant description of what Citroens: "like an Alfa for those less bothered by the driving experience!" Hope Citroen is listening, for while the DS3 was quirky, this bomb ain't nearly quirky enough!!!

In this day and age - the recession - I doubt people will want to use air-con which costs fuel and performance. And anyway - isn't air-con bad for your skin if you use it too much? What about drivers who sit in their cars for hours during rush-hours? Nothing can beat having the natural wind cleanse the inside air! I think this will have to be re-thought when the DS4 is facelifted. It's not like it's a difficult or expensive thing to have on a car - look at Alfa's Giulietta.
THREEPOINTEDSTAR I agree with you very much! Autoexpress has always been biased to the Germans. They say they're 'always on your side' but with biased road tests shouldn't they think about their own problems before fixing ours!?

Not all of us live our life by Ebeneezer Scrooge ethics, and yes, there's a recession on (not that the Government is convinced), but thanks all the same, i'll keep air con switched on and not breathe the intoxicated city air, especially sat in a two hour traffic jam!

I am all for saving money, and maybe with innovations like PSA's HDi engine (borrowed by BMW) and FIAT's wonderful twinair we can be that little bit more efficient, miserly, and breathe a bit better

Have been looking for a car to replace my personal contract hire, which was Saab 93 Aero 180 BHP, yes saab dated but MPG is brilliant.

So I test drove for the DS4 DSport 160 bhp HRi, for 3 hours (motorway, A roads and B country roads)

Very pleasantly suprised to say the least, the firm ride, but responsive steering and lack of external cabin noise thought I was driving a petrol (actually stopped and opened the filler cap) with the quality of the cabin finish and clearly displayed instruments couldn't faulit the car.

Only one concern was the start off with hand brake on, when the hand brake was off and in first gear and set off, the clutch gives a judder and the accelerator seemed to stick on gear change up to 2nd. But I am sure that a small issue that is due to the number of test drive the cars had.

The mpg was very good even tripping around the country side and into two gave me a 49mpg.

I have decided to place my order next week for my 36 months personal contract hire, as long as the price is right !!!

Some people really are ignorant, laughing at the thought of a prestige Citroen... Some people still this volvo's are still safe and germans are reliable when in actual fact, the Citroen c6 is the safest car ever tested, followed closely by Renault. The Audi a6 has been the most UNreliable car in britan for 2 years running followed closely by mercedes vw and audi. While the Peugeot 207 is the most reliable car of the decade...!!! these are the facts people how can you argue, if you are in any way educated, you'd you. Only the media brainwashed sheep who followed the herd and cant make a decision for themselves could possibly even try. Now lets see who you are...

Key specs

* Price: £23,000 (est)
* Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
* Power/torque: 161bhp/340Nm
* Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
* 0-60/top spd: 8.6 secs/132mph
* Econ/CO2: 55.4mpg/134g/km
* Equipment: Cruise control, auto lights and wipers, LED running lamps, heated leather massage seats, multifunction steering wheel, Denon sound system, 19-inch alloys
* On sale: June