Citroen DS4

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - Contents -

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.

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