Citroen DS4 hatchback

£17,855 - £26,595

The DS 4 is the mid-sized model in the range from new car brand, DS. That name might be new, but the car isn't, because it used to be badged as Citroen DS4. In an effort to make the car appeal to a more well-heeled audience, who might also consider a model such as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, it now does without the Citroen badge.

Despite the name, the DS 4 harks back to the golden age of Citroens, when it sold cars which featured distinctive looks and sophisticated suspension providing an extremely comfortable ride.

A blend of classy looks, an upmarket interior and a raised ride height mean that (for the price) the DS 4 has few direct rivals. Potential competitors cover a broad spectrum of talent that includes the Volkswagen Golf, BMW 1 Series and even the Nissan Qashqai. Subjectively at least, the DS 4 doesn’t make a great case for itself – it falls behind all its rivals in key areas, but if you’d like a car that marks you out from the crowd, then keep reading…

The DS 4 is available with a choice of three diesel and three petrol engines. The petrols can’t match the economy of the diesels, but the basic 1.2-litre petrol model is the cheapest version in the range, while the THP 200 is almost as quick as hot hatchbacks such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The diesels also deliver spritely performance and the mid-range HDI 135 mixes that with good economy. Yet the Airdream 1.6-litre diesel engine makes the most sense in the DS 4, because it's by far the most efficient and cheapest to run.

Faster DS 4 models make a less convincing case. Citroen has attempted to make the DS 4 better to drive than the Citroen C4 hatchback on which it's based – often maligned for offering little feedback, the electric power-steering has been dropped for a more communicative electro-hydraulic system. But the car's raised ride height means it leans quite a bit in corners and can’t match the ‘magic carpet’ ride of the classic Citroen DS from the 1950s and 60s.

There are three trim levels to choose from in the DS 4: DSign, DStyle, and DSport, but this is a well equipped car and even the most basic version comes with cruise control, alloy wheels, air-conditioning and electric windows.