DS 4 Review 2024

DS 4 At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The DS4 feels genuinely special. The interior impresses with its premium finishes and impressive technology, while standard equipment levels are extensive. Are you prepared to stand out from the crowd?

+Stylish alternative to mainstream competitors. Available with petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid power. Spacious and luxurious cabin.

-Confusing, scattered model line-up. Firm ride.

New prices start from £35,600

Cars like the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 are a little too successful for their own good. If you're a junior executive, splashing out every month on a PCP for a German hatch is no longer going to impress your mates. Citroen's premium brand, DS, might have the answer – and, for once, it might not be quite the compromise you'd expect. Read on for our full review of the DS 4. 

The DS 4 is based on the same platform as the latest Peugeot 308 and Vauxhall Astra. That means it comes with a range of electrified engines, clever infotainment, and a lengthy list of standard safety systems to a much more worthy choice than the Citroen C4 Cactus it kind of replaces.

But it also has a dose of Parisian style found lacking on more mainstream family car models. From its flush door handles to its watchstrap upholstery and hand-stitched steering wheel, the DS4 looks (and feels) truly special. The same can't really be said for German alternatives, can it? The Audi A3, BMW 1 Series, and Mercedes A-Class are good, but maybe missing a dash of the DS's joie de vivre.

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the choice of DS4 models available when you first open the brochure. First, you need to decide what vibe you're after – choices include the standard DS4, the sporty DS4 Performance Line and then there's the SUV-like DS4 Cross. Each are then available in a number of different trim levels, all of them generously equipped as standard. No DS4 can really be described as 'entry-level'.

There's a strong mix of engines available, too, including petrols, diesels and a plug-in hybrid model with a 35-mile electric range. A pure-electric version is set to follow in 2024.

While the PHEV makes sense for company car drivers, its relatively high list price means it probably won't be on the radar of many private buyers. That's a shame as its 39-mile electric range means you might be able to cover the commute without the petrol engine kicking in at all.

You can't buy the DS4 with a manual gearbox – no great loss, in our eyes, as the eight-speed auto is incredibly smooth shifting. No matter which engine you choose, though, it's a car that's happier taking it a little easy. It's not as agile as the BMW 1 Series, while its almost SUV-like dimension mean it'll roll about on twisty roads.

Prices start from a shade over £28,000 and nudge close to £50,000 at the top of the range. It means you'd be making a very strong statement buying a DS4 over one of its German rivals, but standing out is part of the appeal, right?

Ask Honest John

Why am I being charged premium car tax when my new car is under £40k?

"I am buying a new DS 4 Cross Tivoli 225. The dealer says the tax will include the £40K premium car tax surcharge because the model was originally listed at over £40k. This particular model is no longer listed but the nearest equivalent is under £40K. I am paying £32,500. The car is brand new and unregistered. Why the surcharge?"
This is not a situation we have encountered before, but we can only assume that as the premium rate is calculated by the list price plus options, the dealer is reverting to the most recently-available list price for your car, which is over £40,000. Unfortunately the price you actually pay is irrelevant to how the charge works. This certainly seems unfair, but there are few options available to you. We would certainly raise it with the dealer and ask for a written breakdown of how the charges have been calculated. Also contact the DVLA and ask them to clarify, although you may not get a satisfactory response.
Answered by David Ross

Can you recommend an SUV available on the Motability scheme?

"We've followed you advice over the years which guided us to a second hand 09 plate Mazda 5, and a beautiful brand new 18 plate Mazda CX-5 Sport Nav. Due to illness we are now eligible for the Motobility scheme. We are looking for a similar family SUV that will take 2 kids easily as well as the occasional trip with the mother-in-law. Unfortunately, Mazda aren't on the scheme. Having test driven the SEAT Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan they seem nice cars but the specs on the Motobility scheme vehicles are low. Due to neuropathy a heated steering wheel is vital, as are reversing cameras. The Ford Kuga felt cheap, and the S-MAX was lovely but too big in our opinion. Most of the other contenders feel like a step down from the spec we have currently. The new Hyundai Tucson plug-in-hybrid Ultimate was mentioned on your page as a comparison to the Mazda, the spec looks great (£5,000 upfront though). Our driving is mainly short trips with the kids, with a longer 400 mile round trip to visit northern parents (we are London based) every other month. We can't go fully electric, but plug-in would work for charging outside shop, etc. Obviously we could just stick with the car we have (we wouldn't be looking if it wasn't for the scheme) but with the cost of servicing, insurance being covered by the Motobility scheme it seems too good to be true. Have I missed any obvious contenders? I see the Skoda Karoq is well regarded, but isn't on the scheme."
As you say, the Mazda CX-5 is a very good car that even today is nicer than many new rivals. However, given the savings offered on the Motability scheme there are some other choices worth checking out. Vauxhall has just updated the Grandland (formerly Grandland X) to make it a much more competitive car. Ultimate spec comes with lots of kit including a heated steering wheel and seats. The Peugeot 3008 is essentially the same car as the Grandland underneath, but with a classier interior, although the driving position won't suit all tastes. The Citroen C5 Aircross also shares its engines and platform with the Vauxhall and Peugeot and is exceptionally comfortable, but you might find the interior lacking in quality. We also see that the latest Nissan Qashqai is offered on Motability. It's a much better car than the old one, although perhaps still not as nice to drive or sit in as the CX-5. There are also raised-up hatchbacks that aren't quite as tall as full SUVs: check out the Kia XCeed and new DS 4 (the DS 4 in particular has a plush interior with lots of equipment). They may not offer the desired ease of getting in and out, however.
Answered by Lawrence Allan
More Questions

What does a DS 4 cost?