Review: DS 4 (2011 – 2018)
Unique styling and a high quality cabin. Standard equipment includes DAB and navigation. Good range of engines.
Uncomfortable due to hard ride quality. Tight for rear seat passengers. Rear windows don't open and come to a point.
DS 4 (2011 – 2018): At A Glance
The DS4 is the second former Citroen model to lose its double-chevron badges – it’s now simply a DS4. Aside from the branding change it has undergone a fairly comprehensive facelift, with a redesigned grille and new lights, but there are also more efficient engines. The changes from late 2015 certainly improve the DS4, but ultimately it's still a flawed car.
The biggest problem is the ride quality. Over rough surfaces the DS4 is unsettled at best and it never really calms down, even on a smoother road. Undulations, potholes and camber changes are all transmitted into the cabin and it really detracts from the premium feel Citroen – or DS – is going for.
Things are improved slightly if you opt for the Crossback variant. This has pseudo-offroad looks and, more importantly, increased ride height which makes for a slightly better ride quality. However even then the ride is fidgety and unsettled unless driving on smooth roads or motorways. If you tend to drive on rough or potholed roads the DS 4, in any guise, is not the car for you.
That said, there are positives. The interior is very well-finished and uses high quality materials including leather and brushed metal. Noise is well suppressed, with quiet engines and little sound from wind, though tyres – particularly on cars with larger 19-inch wheels - do rumble a little over typically coarse British tarmac.
The engine selection is very good. Even the basic 130PS petrol and 120PS diesel options offer reasonable performance and economy, with the latter capable of an official 72.4mpg. The more expensive engines blend high performance and low emissions well, particularly the BlueHDi diesels with 150PS and 180PS outputs. Furthermore the EAT6 automatic transmissions are smooth and barely alter emissions or economy.
The boot is a reasonable size at 385 litres, but rear seat access is poor. The rear seats themselves aren’t exactly spacious either – taller occupants will struggle for headroom and even shorter passengers will struggle for knee room with taller occupants up front. The rear windows, rather bizarrely, cannot be opened at all, which can make a big difference for travel sick kids.
The DS4 is distinctive and it feels upmarket, but the poor ride quality and limited practicality mean its appeal is limited. If you can cope with the poor ride and you don’t often carry passengers then you might be happy with one, but we’d recommend looking at cars like the Audi A3 Sportback or BMW 1 Series for your premium hatchback fix.
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DS 4 (2011 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?
DS is aiming for the premium end of the market, so the DS4 is impressively finished inside. The dashboard and seats use a combination of pleasing soft-touch plastics, metal components and leather, with some very intricate details like hand-finished stitching. Some of the plastics used lower down, out of sight, aren’t quite so impressive, but they are by no means bad.
Unfortunately the DS4 is not the most practical car. Access to the rear row isn’t great through the rear doors, while leg and headroom are limited even for average-sized occupants. Rather bizarrely the rear windows can’t be opened at all, which is bad news for those with car sick children.
Thankfully the boot is a reasonable size at 385 litres and access isn’t too bad. There is a lip to lift items over when loading and unloading but it’s not too big, so unless you’re trying to get particularly heavy or bulky things in or out it won’t be a hindrance.
The DS4 comes with a good level of standard equipment. All cars have alloy wheels, a novel panoramic windscreen with sliding blinds, LED running lights, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, an electric parking brake and a touchscreen system. This includes Bluetooth connectivity, navigation and DAB Radio.
There are plenty of options too, including some lovely watchstrap-style leather seat upholstery and various styling extras. Those who buy the hatchback can choose from a variety of contrasting roof colours, though these aren’t offered if you go for the Crossback variant.
Standard equipment (from December 2015)
Elegance trim comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, hill start assist, panoramic windscreen, LED running lights, cornering front fog lights, electrically folding and heated door mirrors, auto lights, auto wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, tinted rear windows, rear spoiler, leather steering wheel and gear selector, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, cruise control, speed limiter, electric parking brake, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, a rechargeable torch, 7-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, DAB and navigation.
Prestige trim adds 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, keyless entry and start, reversing camera, rear armrest.
Crossback features Crossback badging, 30mm higher ride height and Crossback exterior styling, including black wheel arch protectors and glass black details.
Child seats that fit a DS 4 (2011 – 2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the DS 4 (2011 – 2018) like to drive?
- Engines range from 1.2 Puretech 130 to 2.0 BlueHDi 150 EAT6
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 43–55 mpg
The DS 4 is unfortunately not the greatest car to drive. The suspension does a poor job of ironing out undulations, bumps and potholes, with almost constantly unsettled ride quality. The DS4 only really feels relaxed on very smooth road surfaces, which is a real shame.
The problems don’t stop there. The steering is oddly weighted, which means it feels a little too light at higher speeds and not quite light enough at lower speeds. This, paired with the poor suspension set up, does little to inspire confidence on a twisting, uneven B-road, even though body roll is generally well controlled.
Picking the Crossback variant does help matters, thanks in part to its higher suspension. It feels somewhat smoother than the standard hatchback model, but it’s still far from the last word in relaxed ride quality. That’s unfortunate, because the DS 4 has some great engines that work well in other cars including the Peugeot 308.
From 2011 the DS4 range – originally with Citroen badging – was sold with some impressive engines including the 155PS 1.6-litre THP petrol, but there were some duffers in the mix too, including an e-HDi Airdream diesel with a slow-witted automated manual transmission. Thankfully things are better for later cars, with a very good range of engines to choose from.
From 2015 even the entry-level engine - 130PS PureTech petrol - is great, despite its modest 1.2-litre capacity. It’s smooth, punchy and responsive. Plus it is economical, with official figures of 54.3mpg and emissions of 119g/km. Better still is the 120PS BlueHDi diesel, which is just as quiet and smooth but with lower emissions and the option of an impressive six-speed automatic transmission. Official economy is 72.4mpg.
Those who want a more powerful petrol engine can opt for the 165PS 1.6-litre THP, which only comes paired to a six-speed auto. There is also a 210PS version of the THP with a manual transmission. Both offer surprisingly low emissions for such powerful petrol engines, coming in at 130g/km for the 165PS engine and 138g/km for the 210PS version.
But perhaps the best engines of all are the 150PS and 180PS BlueHDi diesels. These are quiet and refined, yet provide punchy performance thanks to good low down torque delivery. Despite this fact, emissions are low. Even the top 180PS engine, which only comes with an automatic transmission, produces just 115g/km of CO2, making it tax friendly. Claimed economy for this engine is 64.2mpg.
|1.2 Puretech 130||57–58 mpg||9.9 s||116–119 g/km|
|1.2 Puretech 130 Crossback||57 mpg||9.9 s||120 g/km|
|1.6 BlueHDi 120||72–74 mpg||10.9 s||100–103 g/km|
|1.6 BlueHDi 120 Crossback||72 mpg||10.9 s||103 g/km|
|1.6 BlueHDi 120 EAT6||69–72 mpg||11.4 s||102–108 g/km|
|1.6 BlueHDi 120 EAT6 Crossback||67–69 mpg||11.4 s||108–111 g/km|
|1.6 THP 165 EAT6||50 mpg||8.7 s||130 g/km|
|1.6 THP 210||48 mpg||7.8 s||138 g/km|
|2.0 BlueHDi 150||67–69 mpg||8.8 s||100–111 g/km|
|2.0 BlueHDi 150 EAT6||64 mpg||8.6 s||115 g/km|
|2.0 BlueHDi 180 EAT6 Crossback||64 mpg||8.6 s||115 g/km|
|2.0 BlueHDi EAT6||64 mpg||-||115 g/km|
|2.0 HDi 180 EAT6||64 mpg||8.6 s||115 g/km|
|2.0 HDi 180 EAT6 Crossback||64 mpg||8.6 s||115 g/km|
Real MPG average for a DS 4 (2011 – 2018)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the DS 4 (2011 – 2018)?
Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.
All four tyres on my DS4 are worn after 13,000 miles - is this normal?
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