Citroën DS4 hatchback (2011-2018)
“The DS 4 is stylish and well equipped, but it’s expensive and the rear seats are small.”
- High-quality interior
- Premium, sporty looks
- Generous standard equipment
- 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.