Citroen DS4 review
The sleek Citroen DS4 promises to mix desirable coupe style, family hatch practicality and premium cabin quality
There’s no denying that the Citroen DS4 makes a bold style statement. With its blend of coupe styling, high-riding suspension and family car proportions, the French machine is unlike anything else on the road. Further boosting the car’s appeal is a classy cabin and strong line-up of petrol and diesel engines. And while it lacks the sharp driving dynamics of conventional rivals such as the VW Golf, the DS4 is a refined and well equipped choice. It’s not without faults, though, as a cramped cabin and fixed rear side windows damage its family friendly credentials.
Our choice: DS4 1.6 e-HDi Airdream DStyle
If you’re looking to attract attention, then the DS4 is just the ticket. Flowing lines, a coupe-like profile and a jacked-up ride height help the Citroen stand out from traditional hatchback rivals such as the Audi A3 Sportback and BMW 1 Series. Buyers can choose from three trims – DSign, DStyle and DSport – and all get alloy wheels and distinctive LED daytime running lights. Inside, the DS4 impresses with the quality of its fixtures and fittings, which are a match for more expensive premium rivals. What’s more, there’s also a decent amount of kit, with all models getting air-conditioning, cruise control and a multifunction steering wheel.
Underneath the DS4’s bold exterior are Citroen C4 underpinnings. However, thanks to uprated suspension, the DS4 feels much sharper and more agile from behind the wheel – although the payoff for its racier responses is a firm low speed ride. The entry-level 118bhp 1.6-litre petrol is a sluggish performer, while the punchy 154bhp turbo version is hobbled by the firm’s clunky six-speed EGS semi-automatic gearbox. At the top of the performance tree is the 197bhp 1.6-litre petrol in the range-topping DSport 200 THP. Shared with the scorching DS3 Racing, it’ll blast the DS4 from 0-62mph in only 8.5 seconds. Yet for most buyers the smooth and eager 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre HDi diesels will provide the best blend of performance and economy.
All DS4 models get six airbags, electronic stability control and Isofix child seat mounting points. As a result, the Citroen scored top marks in the tough Euro NCAP crash tests. And that’s not all, because DStyle and DSport versions get Citroen’s eTouch Emergency and Assistance system, which automatically calls emergency services if the car is involved in a crash. The DS4 feels solidly built, suggesting that reliability concerns should be few and far between. However, the brand’s dealer network finished a lowly 27th in our 2011 Driver Power satisfaction survey.
Despite its five-door hatchback layout, the Citroen DS4 fails to match traditional family car rivals for practicality. Its biggest failing are the rear doors, which provide a narrow and awkward opening to the slightly cramped rear seats. What’s more, the rear windows are fixed in place, meaning occupants in the back can’t let in any fresh air. And while the cabin is littered with useful storage, the glovebox is tiny. At least the well-shaped boot provides a useful 385-litres of carrying capacity, while a split/fold rear bench is standard.
While it’s the fastest and most fun to drive, the 200 THP costs the most to run – although its claimed fuel returns of 44.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 149g/km are barely any worse than the underpowered 1.6-litre petrol. Pick of the bunch for low motoring bills is the 1.6-litre e-HDi diesel, which promises a 64.2mpg return at the pumps and impressively low CO2 emissions of 114g/km. However, it’s fitted with Citroen’s slow-witted EGS semi-auto gearbox. Servicing costs should be no more expensive than the C4 hatchback, while all models should hold on to around 40 per cent of their value after three years.