DS 4 (2011 – 2018) Review
DS 4 (2011 – 2018) At A Glance
The DS 4 – formerly known as the Citroen DS4 – is a difficult car to pigeonhole. Citroen made some wild claims about it rivalling the likes of the Volkswagen Scirocco and Mini Countryman when it unveiled the car in 2011, but these cars aren’t true competitors. Instead, the DS 4 feels more like a cross between a Nissan Juke and BMW 1 Series. In its simplest form, the DS 4 is a ‘tarted-up’ Citroen C4, with improved styling, a premium cabin and a range of punchy and efficient engines. With the earliest examples approaching 10 years old, it’s also a used car bargain.
The DS 4 is a bit of an automotive oddball. Based on the Citroen C4 hatchback, it’s part-crossover, part-coupe and part-hatchback. Sounds like the ideal recipe for a small family car, but unfortunately the DS 4 never really excels in a key area. That’s not to say it’s without appeal.
Indeed, in isolation, the DS 4 is a thoroughly pleasant car, with an upmarket interior, a long list of standard equipment and smart styling, especially if you opt for a post-facelift car. These are easy to spot, not least because the car lost its Citroen badges as part of the separation of the DS Automobiles and Citroen brands in 2015.
We’d call the DS 4 a car of two halves, but it’s more appropriate to call it a car of three thirds. The bits at the front and back are very good – it’s just the bit in the middle that lets the side down. Allow us to explain.
The boot offers 385 litres of luggage space, which is more than you’ll find in the new Volkswagen Golf. So far, so good. Up front, there’s plenty of space for the driver and passenger, who will enjoy the upmarket cabin and premium dashboard.
Things start to unravel when you look at the back seats. The rear windows don’t open, which is acceptable in a coupe, but not in a five-door hatchback. The doors don’t open wide enough, but once you’re inside you’ll notice the lack of room for your knees and feet. It’s very claustrophobic, so nobody will thank you for forcing them to spend too long back there.
There are essentially three versions: the original Citroen DS4, the facelifted DS 4, and the DS 4 Crossback. Of the three, we’d avoid the Citroen, not least because it’s getting a little long in the tooth. Of the other two, we’d recommend the Crossback, as the raised suspension helps to make it more comfortable, feeling a bit like a modern compact crossover.
In truth, you can only achieve so much when you’re basing a new vehicle on an existing car. Citroen did a fantastic job of creating something upmarket from a humble C4 hatchback, but it was beginning to show its age, even when the car was facelifted in 2015.
On the plus side, the DS 4 is available with a wide choice of engines, including punchy and efficient diesels, plus rapid and economical petrol units. Throw into the mix a bewildering array of trim levels and you’re sure to be able to find the right DS 4 for you.
The slightly schizophrenic nature of the DS 4 doesn’t detract from what is a thoroughly convincing take on the premium formula rolled out by Audi and BMW. But if you’re after something practical, there are far better options out there.