In-depth Reviews

Citroën DS4 hatchback (2011-2018)

“The DS 4 is stylish and well equipped, but it’s expensive and the rear seats are small.”

Carbuyer Rating

3.1 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.8 out of 5

Read owner reviews

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

The DS 4 – previously known as the Citroen DS4 – is a small premium hatchback based on the Citroen C4. Although its humble roots are visible both inside and out, the DS offers a higher-quality, more luxurious package than its cheaper relative.

The DS 4’s mission is to compete with premium hatchbacks including the BMW 1 Series, the Mercedes A-Class and Audi A3. It’s around £4,000 more expensive than the C4 it’s based on, a premium explained partly by the fact that it has raised suspension – to the extent that it looks a little like an SUV. If you want to sit higher still, there’s the DS 4 Crossback (reviewed separately), which also looks chunkier.

Since this car is meant to compete with premium models and costs more than the C4, you’d expect it to be well equipped. Fortunately, it is. Elegance trim includes ambient lighting, a panoramic windscreen, 17-inch alloy wheels and rear parking sensors. The next trim, Performance Line, costs £1,500 more and brings larger alloys and sporty styling features. Top-of the range Prestige costs a further £500, but brings useful items including a colour reversing camera and xenon headlights.

Power is provided by a choice of petrol and diesel engines. The 128bhp 1.2-litre petrol offers a good balance of performance and economy. The 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel is slightly slower, but a lot more economical (74.3mpg compared with 57.6mpg). If you want more performance there’s a 176bhp 2.0-litre diesel automatic that can do 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds and will return 64.2mpg. It’s slightly faster even than the 163bhp 1.6-litre petrol.

The 1.2-litre is our pick of the petrols, especially since the more powerful one isn't that much faster but is more expensive and thirstier. Of the diesels, the 176bhp 2.0-litre is our pick for its extra performance but still reasonable economy.

The DS 4’s driving experience is a bit of a mixed bag. It corners reasonably well and develops little body lean but the steering – while accurate – doesn’t provide much ‘feel’ or instil much confidence. Being a raised hatchback might make you think the DS 4 will offer the comfort of a Renault Kadjar or perhaps, conversely, the driver involvement of a Ford Focus; in truth, it sits somewhere between these two cars, prioritising neither outright comfort nor driver thrills.

One thing you don’t get with the DS 4 is rear windows that open – or at least open properly. In order to achieve the sloping roofline and coupe-inspired looks, the DS 4’s designers found it necessary to fit ‘pop out’ rear windows that might be familiar to readers who remember hatchbacks from the late 1980s and 90s. Still, the front of the DS 4 is quite a nice place to sit, thanks in part to the panoramic windscreen.

The DS 4 didn’t feature in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but the mechanically similar Citroen C4 fared poorly, coming 139th out of 150 cars. Still, a five star safety rating from Euro NCAP means the DS 4 is undoubtedly a safe car.

Most Popular

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Tesla Model Y SUV review
Tesla Model Y SUV front 3/4 tracking
Tesla Model Y SUV
30 Jul 2021

Tesla Model Y SUV review

Engine size explained
Aston Martin 6.0-litre V12 engine
Tips and advice
26 Jul 2021

Engine size explained

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
13 Apr 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
15 Jun 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Best car interiors

Best electric cars
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
6 May 2021

Best electric cars

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Mercedes AMG A45 - rear
Hot hatches
25 Jun 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks