£20,495 - £27,295 Price range
47 - 74 MPG
The DS 4 is a five door family hatchback which aims to offer buyers something a little different from the rest of the segment. With DS now marketed as a distinct brand from parent company Citroen, the latest DS 4 loses the Chevron logos and gains a cleaner style, which the brand hopes will aim it further upmarket.
The premium connotations and the way it is priced suggest the DS 4 could be seen a rival for the likes of the Audi A3 Sportback, but equally it can consider high-end versions of the Volkswagen Golf and Mini 5-door as competitors too.
The DS 4 is offered in two distinct body styles, known as Hatchback and Crossback. While the former is a fairly traditional five -door, DS hopes that the Crossback – which gains 30mm of ride height, chunkier wheel arch trims and silver roof rails – can tap into the ever-growing crossover market.
Buyers can choose from three petrol and three diesel engines. The most frugal is the 1.6-litre BlueHDI diesel, which in official tests returns 74.3mpg. The pick of the range is likely to be the 148hp diesel. THe 2.0-litre unit has a little more urge than the 1.6, yet is only marginally less economical.
Equipment levels are very high in all models, with every DS 4 featuring a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, automatic air conditioning and rear parking sensors. Top spec Prestige models add Xenon/LED directional headlights, keyless entry, a reversing camera and leather upholstery.
Arguably the strongest point of the DS 4 is the quality of its cabin. The standard of materials used and the way in which they are all screwed together is easily a match for the often-referenced class benchmark, the Volkswagen Golf. Even the plastics hidden away in the footwells aren’t of the nasty, scratchy variety that crop up in so many cars of this size.
The ‘Watchstrap” leather upholstery – optionally available for the Crossback and Prestige trim level – improves things even further. Soft hide covers the door panels and the dashboard, in addition to the distinctive quilting on the seats themselves. Though the quality of some switchgear might fall slightly short, in this iteration the overall feel inside is on a level with the Audi A3 Sportback or Mercedes A-Class. Rearward visibility isn’t great, but it isn’t any worse than the Mercedes.
Citroen DS 4 passenger space
While the DS 4 scores high marks for the interior style, unfortunately it just isn’t roomy enough – particularly in the back. While legroom isn’t significantly tighter than in the A3, the lack of foot room under the front seat makes it feel more cramped. Headroom is also fairly tight for rear passengers taller than six foot.
This slightly claustrophobic sensation is made worse by the rear doors. Their rakish shape means that the windows can’t wind down, while their relatively small size makes it harder than it should be to get in and out.
Citroen DS 4 boot space
The DS 4 boasts a total boot volume of 385 litres. That’s marginally better than the Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3 Sportback and Seat Leon (all of which have 380-litre boots), and significantly better than the Ford Focus (316 litres). However, the load lip is high so lifting heavy items into the back will be quite an effort.
Elsewhere, storage space is limited: there is one small cup holder between the front seats, and the door pockets are shallow and not particularly wide.
While the interior has much to praise, out on the road things aren’t quite as positive. Unfortunately the ride is too hard, particularly in the Prestige model which features sports suspension as standard.
The extra suspension travel of the Crossback improves things slightly, though little bumps still tend to jiggle the car around.
It would perhaps be more excusable if it was fun to drive. While it isn’t bad through bends, it is by no means a class-leader. Despite the firm suspension, the DS 4 never really settles, though grip is fairly strong in either iteration. Depending on budget, those looking for fun handling should try either a Mazda 3 or BMW 1 Series instead.
Many of the petrol engines are a little too noisy at cruising speeds, though they do make a fairly pleasant noise while accelerating. Overall, they’re pretty frugal for the performance they offer, too: the base 1.2-litre turbocharged model can return a claimed 55.4mpg.
As with the petrol counterparts, the diesel engines are noisier than the class leaders but they are generally the best choices here. The pick of the range is the 148hp 2.0-litre diesel, which is paired with a six-speed manual gearbox.
The 1.6-litre THP 210 sits at the top of the line-up, and if you’re looking for the absolute performance from the DS4, it is the engine to go for. It is thirstier than the others though, so it would be wise to weigh up your requirements before picking it.
Citroen DS 4 petrol engines
The 163hp 1.6-litre unit is used elsewhere in the DS range, and it’s a smooth and powerful engine that’s fairly fun to use. It sounds pleasant enough under acceleration and isn’t noisy when travelling at steady speeds. It’s reasonably efficient too – a real world fuel economy in the low forties should be realistic. However, it is only available with an automatic gearbox, which might not be to everyone’s taste.
The top of the range petrol is a more powerful version of the 16-litre turbocharged petrol found in the previous DS 4. The 208hp unit is paired with a six speed manual gearbox, and delivers a 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds. While it pulls smoothly, it never quite feels as quick as those figures suggest.
Perhaps more puzzling is the gearbox. It shifts sweetly enough, but the gearing itself is too short: at approximately 70mph the engine is pulling 3,000rpm in sixth gear, which means that it isn’t as suited to motorway cruising as one might hope.
Citroen DS 4 diesel engines
As with the THP 210 petrol, the top spec diesel is a sweet enough engine let down by a slightly suspect gearbox. During our time with it, on more than one occasion it felt like it was going to stall when decelerating. The standard-fit start/stop technology seems to be as much a failsafe against the gearbox not engaging the clutch in time as it is a fuel-saving measure.
Generally the engine is smooth and refined, if a little gruff under heavy acceleration. A healthy 295lb ft of torque means that despite the power deficit to the most potent petrol, it doesn’t feel significantly slower.
During our time with it we averaged 43.5mpg. Due to the twisty nature of much of the test route and an air conditioning system left on for the full journey, we’re confident that figure could be improved upon by quite some margin in the everyday driving. Citroen it’ll get more than 60mpg if you’re careful.
The Citroen DS4 1.6 THP reviews are pretty positive. The general view from the critics is that it's a smooth and powerful engine that's fairly fun to drive. The reviews report that it sounds nice under acceleration and isn't noisy when travelling at steady speeds. It's fairly efficient too, with fuel economy around 45mpg.
However, a couple of reviews say that the 2.0 diesel engine is a better choice, as the running costs are lower and it doesn't feel much slower.
To see reviews for the other DS4 engines, use the drop-down box above to select another.
The reviews of the Citroen DS4 2.0 HDi are really positive. The experts agree this engine is powerful, refined and smooth. There's lot of low down torque so it's very responsive and overtaking will be easy.
It's a quiet engine too (although the engines fitted to some rivals are even quieter) and with 55 mpg won't cost too much to run either. CO2 emissions are reasonably low for the power and engine size, which will help environmentalists and the environment alike.
Many reviews say that the 2.0 HDi is the engine to go for, balancing power and economy very well. It’s a good engine that suits the car’s nature well.To read opinions on the other engines, use the box above to select another. Or to see a summary of what critics thought of the car as a whole, click the 'overview' tab.
Citroen hasn’t just made the DS4 special by making it more stylish, it’s equally safe as well. Front, side, and curtain airbags are standard, while the driver aids include ABS and electronic stability control.
There’s also the Isofix child seat mounts, and all this gives the DS4 a respectable five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests.
The DS 4 trim range comprises of Dsign, Dstyle and Dsport models. As the DS is aimed directly at up-market rivals from VW, Audi and Mini, Citroen has made sure all models looks smart on the outside.
Citroen DS 4 Dsign
For this reason even basic Dsign specified cars come with body coloured bumpers, wing mirrors and door handles. Tinted rear windows give the car a sportier appearance and 17-inch alloy wheels are standard fit. That sporty theme makes its way inside, too, where you’ll find a leather-bound steering wheel and chrome trim. Standard kit includes remote central locking, cruise control and air conditioning.
Citroen DS 4 Dstyle Nav
Mid-range Dstyle models up the ante with 18-inch alloy wheels and door mirrors that light up the surrounding road on entry and fold away when you lock the car. Inside, the seven-inch touchscreen brings the interior bang up to date (sat-nav is standard) and the half-leather seats lift the cabin’s overall feel. Additional equipment includes rear parking sensors, climate control and a Bluetooth hands free system.
Citroen DS 4 Dsport
Big 19-inch alloy wheels are the most obvious sign that you have spent your money on the top-of-the-range DS 4 and a full leather interior continues the theme inside. The extra outlay also buys you keyless entry, front parking sensors and a blind-spot monitoring system.
While there are several good reasons to buy a DS 4 – a distinct style, impressive build quality and a couple of strong engines – there are too many little faults which prevent us from recommending it for serious consideration.
We reckon it would be a much better car with one straightforward change: making ride comfort a much higher priority. For a car produced by a brand whose DS name references a Citroen famed for a magic carpet-like suspension system, it seems like the company is missing a trick.
As it stands, it isn’t fun enough to mention in the same breath as the sporty choices in the class, nor is it comfortable enough to feel as luxurious as the interior suggests it might.