Citroen DS4 hatchback
Price: £17,580 - £25,030
- Sporty looks
- Strong equipment levels
- High-quality cabin
- Cramped interior
- Rear side windows don’t open
- Drive doesn’t match its sporty looks
"The Citroen DS4 is a sporty-looking family car with a premium-quality cabin and hatchback practicality."
The Citroen DS4 is based on the French company's standard C4 family hatchback, but gets an added dose of style and quality, extra equipment, plus a sportier drive. With this mode, Citroen is effectively taking aim at premium hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Golf, and perhaps even models like the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 Sportback. But can it really compete with those cars? Well, it certainly has an eye-catching design thanks to a sleek coupe-like body shape, alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights. And the interior feels a match for premium rivals thanks to the impressive quality of its fit and materials, great equipment levels and comfortable ride. But it's not as good to drive as cars like the Volkswagen Golf or BMW 1 Series and the Citroen badge isn’t any where near as prestigious. But the DS4 has a lot more character than its comparatively bland rivals, and that will appeal to buyers who want something a little out of the ordinary.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Economy and efficiency are reasonable but by no means class-leading
The Citroen DS4's engines all offer a reasonable mix of performance and economy but it hardly stands out in a class that boasts some extremely efficient models. The most efficient engine in the line-up is the 1.6-litre HDi diesel, which returns 65.7mpg and emits 114g/km CO2. That puts the car in tax band C, which costs £30 a year, so it's fairly inexpensive to run, but it looks a little weak when you consider the BMW 1 Series EfficientDynamics models are capable of 74.3mpg and 99g/km CO2, while VW Golf Bluemotion cars can do 88.3mpg and 85g/km CO2. Plus the 1.6-litre HDi diesel DS4 comes with a frustrating and clunky semi-automatic gearbox that really takes any enjoyment out of the driving experience. Servicing costs should be pretty affordable, though.
Interior & comfort
Interior is high-quality and very comfortable
The DS4 feels like a premium car on the inside. The quality of design, materials and build are all significantly improved compared to the standard C4 model on which this car is based. And comfort hasn’t been compromised at all despite the fact the DS4 features sportier suspension – it still feels great and will smooth out bumps in the road nicely. The seats are comfortable and supportive, too, making the DS4 great for long journeys, at least for the driver and front passenger. The rear seats are a bit cramped, compromising comfort for passengers in the back.
Practicality & boot space
Practicality has been sacrificed for sportier looks
The DS4's curvy lines may make it looks great, but they don't do wonders for interior space. As a result the DS4 is not as practical as the standard C4. Space in the rear is a little cramped, as the low roofline eats into headspace, and the boot has had to be made smaller, too. Capacity is down to 385 litres from the C4's 408 litres but the car does come, with split-folding rear seats as standard and the space on offer is still bigger than most of its rivals. The VW Golf, for example, has just 380 litres, while the BMW 1 Series has 360 litres. But there are other issues with the DS4, the main one being the rear windows - they are fixed and can’t be opened, so rear passengers can’t get any air. We also found the glove compartment frustratingly small.
Reliability & safety
DS4 feels high-quality but Citroen hasn’t performed well in recent customer surveys
The DS4 feels like a quality product, featuring decent materials that have been well put together. There have been no major issues reported on it and, as it's based on the C4, all the engines and mechanicals have been thoroughly tried and tested, so should prove to be dependable. And yet it's difficult to score the DS4 highly in this category because of Citroen's performance in customer satisfaction surveys. In the 2013 Driver Power manufacturer chart it finished 24th out of 32. Not enough DS4 owners took part in the survey for it to feature in the Driver Power Top 100 cars league table, but the DS3 came an impressive 36th – which suggests that the firm's more premium DS cars are proving to be more reliable and satisfying for owners than the rest of the Citroen range. The DS4 received a five-star crash safety rating from Euro NCAP and comes equipped as standard with six airbags, electronic stability control and ISOFIX points for child seats. While DStyle and DSport spec models come with eTouch emergency assistance systems, which automatically contact the emergency services and inform them of your location should you crash.
Engines, drive & performance
Sportier than the C4 but rivals are sharper on the road
There are a range of petrol and diesel engines available with the DS4. The most performance-focused one is the 197bhp 1.6-litre DSport 200 THP, which has enough power to take you from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds. If you’re looking for a better balance of list price, running costs and performance then we’d suggest the 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre HDi diesel engines, which are both smooth and powerful and still capable of returning decent economy. We’d also recommend avoiding the 1.6-litre petrol engine because the 118bhp version feels too underpowered and the turbocharged 154bhp version can only be had with the jerky six-speed semi-automatic gearbox, which robs the DS4 of any kind of driving pleasure. Overall, the DS4 definitely offers a more sporty drive than the C4 on which it's based. The firmer suspension means it's a lot more agile, and corners with better body control. But it's still not as sharp to drive as rivals, and buyers looking for sporty driving dynamics would be better off with the Volkswagen Golf or BMW 1 Series.
Price, value for money & options
Premium features at a lower price than rivals
The DS4 definitely has a premium feel. The styling is distinctive, it features the kind of LED daytime running lights that are more commonly associated with Audis, and the interior feels upmarket. It's not quite as good a car as the BMW 1 Series or Audi A3 but it's cheaper than those rivals, so you wouldn’t expect it to be. All models are well equipped, too, with even entry-level cars getting alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, air-con, cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel and intelligent traction control that keeps the car under control no matter the weather conditions. Used values won’t match premium rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and BMW 1 Series, but they will be stronger than the standard C4.
What the others say
"Citroen claims the DS4 can straddle several segments, and deliver a sporty, involving driving experience without compromising on practicality."
"Based on the C4 hatch, the DS4 is meant to blend coupe and hatchback bodystyles and the effect is pretty striking. It is shorter (60mm) and higher (40mm) than the C4 it is based on."
Last updated: 7 Feb 2014