Review

Citroen DS4 hatchback

Price  £19,595 - £25,595

Citroen DS4 hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • High-quality interior
  • Premium, sporty looks
  • Generous standard equipment
Cons
  • Rear side windows don’t open
  • Cramped interior – especially in rear
  • Dull drive doesn’t match sporty styling

At a glance

The greenest
Elegance BlueHDi 120 S&S 6-speed 5dr £21,345
The cheapest
Elegance PureTech 130 S&S 6-speed 5dr £19,595
The fastest
Prestige THP 210 S&S 6-speed 5dr £23,095
Top of the range
Prestige BlueHDi 180 S&S EAT6 auto 5dr £25,595

“The DS 4 is a good-looking and stylish family hatchback with a premium interior; that style comes at a cost though, as it’s not as practical or good to drive as some rivals.”

In an effort to make it more exclusive and desirable, the DS make now stands separate from Citroen as a whole, and the DS 4 hatchback is the brand’s answer to premium mid-sized family cars like the Volkswagen Golf and BMW 1 Series.

In choosing the name DS, Citroen hopes to remind buyers of the famously comfortable and technologically advanced DS model from that was produced from the fifties until the seventies. In truth, today’s DS 4 doesn’t match the car that inspired its name, but its unique looks and plush interior may appeal to some style-conscious buyers.

The DS4 has a slightly raised ride height compared to traditional family hatchbacks like the Audi A3 and Volvo V40, but it can’t match the practicality or ease of access that attracts buyers to compact SUVs like the Nissan Qashqai. Because it straddles the family hatchback and compact SUV classes, the DS 4 – inevitably – invites comparison to both types of car. Unfortunately, it can’t quite replicate the driving experience of a Ford Focus or the usability of a Renault Kadjar.

DS 4 buyers can choose from three petrol and three diesel engines. The cheapest (and most efficient) petrol is the PureTech 130, which has a competitive 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds, but manages to return 55.4mpg economy and emits 119g/km of CO2 for an annual road tax bill of just £30 – impressive for a petrol engine.

At the other end of the petrol scale is the powerful 208bhp THP 210, but this is more expensive to buy and tax, and the drop in fuel economy (it returns 47.9mpg) isn’t matched by enough of a rise in performance (it goes from 0-62 in 8.4 seconds) to make it worthwhile.

A diesel-engined DS 4 is more expensive to buy, but if you cover a lot of miles, the BlueHDi 150 offers an excellent blend of performance and economy. It’s road-tax-exempt thanks to low CO2 emissions and will return 72.4mpg, yet it’s capable of going from 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds – more than enough to keep pace with modern traffic. The less powerful BlueHDi 120 is marginally more economical, but it’s a fair bit slower than the BlueHDi 150 and not that much cheaper.

While the performance and economy of the DS 4 are impressive, its driving experience leaves a little more to be desired. The suspension is too firm, meaning poor road surfaces and potholes cause the car to crash and bounce uncomfortably, while the steering doesn’t provide enough feedback, denting driver enjoyment further.

The interior of the DS 4 can’t match the class and quality of a Volkswagen Golf’s, but it’s a pleasant place to sit thanks to an appealing design and some high-quality materials. Practicality is less impressive, however: the DS 4 feels somewhat cramped – particularly in the back – and the fact that the rear windows don’t open will deter many buyers. While the deep windscreen extends into the roofline, giving a sense of light and spaciousness, this can’t make up for the overall lack of interior space.

Trim choices for the DS 4 are refreshingly simple: you can choose from either Elegance or Prestige versions. The entry-level Elegance is well equipped, with air-conditioning, alloy wheels and cruise control, while the Prestige has larger alloy wheels, bright xenon headlights and a reversing camera as standard.

There are some question marks over the DS 4’s reliability: Citroen as a brand doesn’t have a great reputation in this area, borne out by a 20th place (out of 32 manufacturers) result in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. Before it became known simply as the DS 4, the Citroen DS 4 also did poorly in our Driver Power survey, coming 123rd out of 200 cars.

Fortunately, there are no such concerns over safety: the DS 4 was awarded the full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash-tests, with a host of airbags, ISOFIX child-seat mounting points and standard electronic stability control helping to make it a particularly safe car.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.7 / 5

Diesel versions of the DS 4 are cheap to run, but ultimately outclassed by rivals

Engines, drive & performance

3 / 5

The DS 4 is a long way off the best in class for driving fun

Interior & comfort

2.6 / 5

A stiff ride takes something away from the DS 4’s luxurious interior

Practicality & boot space

2.5 / 5

Access to the back seat of the DS 4 is poor and the windows are fixed

Reliability & safety

3.5 / 5

The DS 4 was awarded five stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP

What the others say

3 / 5
based on 3 reviews
3 / 5
"Citroen claims the DS4 can straddle several segments, and deliver a sporty, involving driving experience without compromising on practicality."
3 / 5
"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."
3 / 5
"It may look like a two-door coupe, but it does in fact have rear doors with hidden handles, adding to the coupe appearance in a similar fashion to the SEAT Leon. The DS4 is practical too with a 370-litre boot - more than a Volkswagen Golf."
What owners say 
4.5857142857143
4.6 /5 based on 28 reviews
86%
 of people would recommend this car to a friend

Owner rating:

2 star   0
1 star   0
Last updated 
22 Mar 2016
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