The Citroen DS4 is a wonderfully confusing car. Is it a tall yet sporty hatch? Is it an inexplicably powerful and somewhat compromised Crossover? Is it both of these things and more? Or less?
What is certain, though, is that the DS4 is a lot of fun, and remarkably handsome and stylish. The wonderfully Citroen nose and “almost” conventional hatch styling add to the fantastic sense of confusion that surrounds the DS4, while the rear doors, with their hidden handles and nonfunctional windows, may well be utterly impractical and an ergonomic nightmare, but they do look cool.
Move inside and you will find a beautifully detailed interior made from high quality materials. Comfortable seats with excellent lateral support are a highlight, while the visibility is remarkably good. It may not be as sexy and swoopy as the DS5’s interior, but it is extremely well made.
Unfortunately, it does share something with the DS5’s interior, in that they are both ergonomically mental. Switches and buttons are usually never where you expect to find them, and the tiny monochrome info screen in the centre of the dash is too small to show enough to be of use. The stereo is almost completely the opposite of “easy to use and intuitive”.
The high seating position, while adding to the fantastic visibility, feels unnatural in such a sporty car, and there is almost no rear leg room.
Still, put all that aside for a moment, because the brilliant little 147kW/ 275Nm 1.6-litre four- cylinder turbo feels strong and unbreakable. It is also a revvy little beast that charges eagerly to the red line. The six-speed manual transmission is a nice shifter, too.
While the revs do drop off quickly - making the DS4 a bit of an effort in heavy traffic - out on the open road it is a fantastic, feral, little corner terrier. It dives into corners hard and fast, and comes out equally eagerly. There is very little in the way of FWD histrionics, and the steering is nicely weighted and has good feel and feedback, while the rear end feels glued to the road.
In all the DS4 DSport is a fantastically fun bigger brother to the even more fun DS3. The DS4 offers similar thrills, but in a more grownup kind of way. Which is as it should be.
The excellent handling, decent ride and eager engine make up for a lot of the confusion about what exactly the DS4 is supposed to be, and at the end of the day, it is a Citroen. They have traditionally been baffling and slightly odd, so it is good to see this being incorporated into the modern designs.
Enjoy the engine and the handling, revel in the confused stares, and take pleasure from the fact that no one will ask you to be the sober driver and use your car, because nobody wants to hop in the back.