£22,745 - £27,495 Price range
56 - 72 MPG
With all signs of a Citroen badge eradicated from the DS 4, the (aspiring-to-be) premium French brand has now set about making its models more appealing to UK buyers – and what better way to do that than to launch a crossover model with high-riding suspension?
We say ‘crossover’, but the new DS 4 Crossback isn’t much more than a restyled version of the standard DS 4. It lacks the option to fit four-wheel drive as you can in its closest rival – the Volvo V40 Cross Country. Also worth considering are the Skoda Octavia Scout, VW Golf Alltrack and SEAT Leon X-Perience – all of which are only available as estates.
Instead of any true off-road ability, the Crossback gets black-plastic wheelarch trims and a ride height that is 30mm taller than the standard car – making it ideally suited to deflecting shopping trolley dings and speed bumps, but not much else. Revised bumpers with shiny black inserts complete the look.
While the regular DS 4 is offered with a choice of six engines, in the Crossback you only get two diesels and one petrol to pick from – but all are cheap to run. While the DS 4 remains an also-ran when it comes to handling, the raised ride height does make the Crossback version a tad more comfortable. Admittedly the non-Crossback DS 4 has one of the least comfortable rides in its class, so this isn’t huge praise.
Because the Crossback is only available in top-end Prestige trim equipment levels are high, with sat-nav, climate control and a leather interior all coming as standard. Check out the paint options available using our DS 4 Crossback colours guide or find out if it’s the right size for you by reading our DS 4 Crossback sizes and dimensions guide.
The DS brand is advertised as an alternative to high-end manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes and Audi, so you have every right to expect its interior to feel a cut above more normal cars, such as the Ford Focus.
Sadly, though, it isn’t. In fact it’s worse, with too many hard plastics scattered around major touch points throughout the car, to the point that it feels several levels down from the Volvo V40 Cross Country or, for that matter, the supposedly budget Skoda Octavia.
Potentially worse is the fact that the DS 4 Crossback lacks the kind of charm that might lure customers to the DS brand instead of one of its more mainstream competitors. It’s the sort of quirkiness you do get in the DS 5, with its appealing asymmetrical dashboard design and ‘shark tooth’ style buttons on the centre console. The DS 4’s panoramic windscreen that sweeps back above your head is a nice touch, and the dashboard design pleasant enough, but neither get near to giving the must-have cache retro models such as the Fiat 500 and Mini hatchback enjoy.
When we tested the DS 4 Crossback in 2016 we were impressed by some small touches, however, such as the driver’s and front passenger’s sun blinds, which slide backwards and forwards as well as flipping down – ideal for blocking out the sun from top of the huge windscreen.
DS 4 Crossback interior space
While there is plenty of space for adults to get comfortable in the front, the adjustable steering wheel can’t be moved far enough forward and the pedals are set too high for taller drivers. We found getting a perfect driving position impossible, with our arms too stretched out and our legs too cramped.
Things aren’t much better for rear-seat passengers. Once they’ve navigated their bodies round the absurdly pointy edge of the rear door (and through the small opening it leaves for access), their efforts are rewarded with what one tester labelled ‘shockingly tight’ rear legroom. That’s particularly true if those in the front are of an above average stature. It’s worth noting that the rear windows don’t open at all – not great if you plan on carrying kids in the height of summer or anyone slightly claustrophobic.
There is one positive to the Crossback, though, and that’s its raised ride height, which should make it easier for elderly relatives to get in and out of the car.
DS 4 Crossback boot space
Converting the regular DS 4 into the Crossback has done nothing to harm boot space and the cars share the same 385-litre capacity – 50 litres more than you’ll get in the Volvo V40 Cross Country. Not so good is the high load lip that you’ll really notice if you ever have to lift heavy items into the car.
Out on the road the DS 4 Crossback’s more compliant ride marks it out from the regular model and gives it a level of comfort that’s more in keeping with its premium billing. It’s still far from the finished article, though, with reviewers reporting that the car crashes over potholes and is unsettled at high speeds on all but the smoothest motorways.
That pill might be easier to swallow were the DS 4 to conjure up some ability in corners, but sadly that doesn’t happen. Instead the raised suspension means it just suffers from more body lean in bends than the standard car.
Not that the steering encourages you do go hurtling towards the edges of the performance envelope, it manages to be both vague and un-naturally heavy. The latter makes in-town driving more of a chore than it ought to be. A shame, because the improved view outside afforded by the raised ride height means it’s otherwise well suited to town driving.
All but the most-powerful Crossback come with a six speed manual gearbox that is slack in its operation and, thus, not the most rewarding to use – we found it particularly hard work to go from second to first gear when the car was cold. Go for the 181hp diesel model and you get a six-speed auto as standard, but reviewers tell us it’s too keen to shift down – revving the engine hard when just a few-seconds worth of surge is needed. Even at a steadier pace, it’s not capable of the kind imperceptible changes the best autos can manage.
Choosing the Crossback instead of a regular DS4 means cutting your choice of engines in half, leaving you with the option to fit a 130hp 1.2-litre petrol or diesels of either 1.6 (118hp) or 2.0-litres (181hp) in capacity.
DS 4 diesel engines
It goes without saying that the diesel models are likely to be the bestsellers thanks to delivering decent performance, while keeping one eye on economy. The smaller of the two costs just £20 a year to tax and can return fuel economy of more than 72.4mpg. It gets from 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds (11.4 seconds when fitted with the £1,200 automatic gearbox) and tops out at 117mph. It’s not fast by any stretch of the imagination, and you often have to change down more gears than you’d think to get any meaningful acceleration. We found that the Crossback would struggle to accelerate at all if you put it into 6th gear at 50mph.
If you want more oomph you can of course go for the more powerful 2.0-litre model, which gets from 0-62mph in a far more entertaining 8.6 seconds and could cruise on to 127mph were it let loose on a German Autobahn. The downside is that the extra power only serves to magnify the deficiencies in the DS 4’s less than stellar chassis – with the car struggling to get traction as it attempts to convert its 295Ib ft of torque into forward motion.
DS 4 petrol engines
While the diesels are expected to be the most popular, it is easy to see why the 1.2-litre petrol will appeal to some buyers. It’s the cheapest model in the range by a margin of close to £2,000. And, with quoted fuel economy of 54.3mpg and annual road tax sitting at £100 a year, you’ll have to rack up some serious miles before the diesel engines make financial sense. Its also worth noting that the petrol is quicker on paper than the entry level diesel with 0-62mph dispatched in 9.9 seconds as it trundles towards its 123mph top speed.
Under its previous guise as the Citroen DS4, the car scored the full five stars when it was guided into to a wall by Euro NCAP. Full marks then, but because the crash test was conducted back in 2011 it’s likely the DS 4 Crossback wouldn’t score so well under 2016’s harsher test conditions.
Having said that, all the safety equipment you would expect comes as standard including anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Emergency Brake Assist and stability control that should stop the car from spinning out at high speeds. Splurge an extra £300 and you can also get a blind-spot monitoring system that should prove handy and includes parking sensors to take the strain out of slipping into tight spaces.
All Crossback models get a styling pack that separates them from the rest of the DS 4 range. It includes black-plastic wheelarch protectors, glossy black trimmed front and rear bumpers, gloss-black alloy wheels, aluminium-style roof rails, a different rear spoiler and wing mirrors, plus Crossback badging.
Because all models are based on Prestige trim they share the same standard equipment, which includes a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless start and entry, a reversing camera and Xenon headlights backed up with LED daytime running lights.
While the DS 4 Crossback’s mix of eye-catching styling, relative rarity and city-friendly body protection might win it some admirers, it’ll take more than a rebadge to persuade most buyers to choose it over rivals. What’s needed is an all-new model worthy of carrying on where the ground-breaking DS of the 1950s left off. Until then, the Crossback is set to remain a left-field choice for people who value individuality above all else.
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