Test drive: Citroen DS4 DStyle HDi 160 and DS4 DSport THP 200
The TotallyMotor Verdict
So here we have the second model in the more premium-focused DS range of cars from Citroen, the DS4. We’ve already seen plenty of the debut-DS, the DS3, which has proven even more popular than Citroen expected with models like the DS3 DSport receiving its fair share of the love from press and public alike. Happily exceeding expectations; 10,000 DS3 models have found homes in the UK.
You might also have seen the odd special edition DS3 Racing nipping around town, but this 204bhp DS3 is an altogether spicier specialist supermini and just 200 are allocated to the UK. There’s also the biggest DS yet to come, in the premium-SUV-shape of the DS5.
All DS cars share the same “modern and stylish” and “non-conformist” attitude, as designed-in by Citroen, and while the DS3 certainly struck a funkier note with British buyers; now its DS4’s time to shine in a market segment crowded with coupes, 3- and 5-door hatchbacks and the latest taller-car-craze; crossovers.
Citroen feel that their new DS4 is none of the aforementioned more usual motoring shapes, but instead describe it as a hybrid of body styles; a 4-door coupe with five seats, and raised suspension for a more SUV-like higher driving position.
So some SUV-esque road-view and road presence, without the stigma attached to gas guzzling, but featuring the sleeker, arousing lines of a coupe. The market-researched punters got what they asked for – let’s see if this new car-combination stacks up, with both diesel and petrol power.
Test drive: Citroen DS4 DStyle HDi 160 and DS4 DSport THP 200
With the car-buying public currently enjoying a higher driving position, the DS4 purports to offer the same more relaxed – thanks-to-better-road-view – driving experience; topped off with coupe flavour.
So the DS4, based on the C4, rides 32mm higher on its suspension – which has been reworked to the more sporting DS dynamics – and seats the driver an extra 15mm above the road compared to the more conventional C4 model.
I found that regarding the DS4 from the side revealed more of its intended coupe styling cues, with short front and rear overhangs, swept-back A-pillars, rounded rump and disguised rear doors indeed delivering those more decadent coupe pleasures.
And while DS4 is based on the C4 platform, the only shared visible components are the headlights and the bonnet. The rest of the bodywork on these DStyle HDi 160 (from £22.950 OTR) and DSport THP 200 (from £23,650 OTR) TotallyMotor test drive cars is all DS4’s own work.
There are plenty of details to take in, from the discreet “DS” badging to the liberal sprinkling of chrome highlights and, most noticeably pleasing for me, the sharply creased curves over the wheel arches. Particularly bold are the creasing details that start in the rear light units and continue to flow over the rear arches and into the rear doors. The rear door handles are hidden in the sharpest point of the rear doors.
The DS4 is certainly striking and flamboyant; walking in the DS3’s stylish shoes, and while the suspension is taller than we’re used to, the handsome 19-inch Cairns alloy wheels, as seen on these range-topping THP 200 testers, work hard to fill up the large wheel arches. However, the distance between wheel and wheel arch will only increase as the wheels shrink to 18- and 17-inch as we go further down the trim ladder.
It’s a “riding high” coupe that we’re not used to seeing in car-world, but with the sales and awards success of the DS3, and with the crossover style also selling well, it’s clear that there’s an appetite for something a little different. And now there’s even more opportunity to step away from the norm.
Into the interior:
The C4 and the DS3 showed a new wave of well-executed interiors from Citroen and the DS4 builds on this solid and stylish start.
As you can see from our pictures there’s plenty to choose from in the luxury leather department when it comes to these mid-range DStyle and top of the range DSport test cars, with the cigar-coloured “watch strap” Habana Club leather really catching this tester’s eye. Of course budget restraints and personal taste will dictate your seating of choice, but the various leather options seen were all well stitched, bold in style and soft to touch.
Now a coupe needs a sleek roofline so for this taller tester there wasn’t a whole lot of space above my head in the front seats, while sitting in the back meant that my hair and the roof liner very nearly connected.
Citroen says that the rear seats are for occasional use as most DS4 buyers will be older and probably without kids, and with the front seats at their midway pushed back point there was indeed just enough wriggle room to ferry adult rear seats passengers in reasonable comfort. Those that want more space from Citroen for the same footprint will look at the C4, but practicality-wise, the DS4 gives up good size boot for a coupe with 385 litres available with the rear seats up.
However, due to coupe design constraints the back windows are fixed so rear seat passenger will have to rely on the front windows or air-conditioning for an extra air.
Up front and the multi-adjusting driver’s seat returned a comfortable driving position in both the DStyle and DSport variants; both of which sported leather, and with the steering wheel adjusted I could imagine myself settling happily for longer drives.
The extra 15mm of seat height doesn’t sound like a lot and at over 6-feet tall I don’t usually struggle for a good view ahead. Shorter drivers and drivers that want coupe looks without the low-slung body will doubtless feel more benefit from the 15mm of extra height.
Those A-pillars zoom back towards you, again to suit the coupe style, but Citroen have fitted a deeper “panoramic” windscreens to give back the daylight the coupe styling stole. And thanks to a neat sliding sun visor mount it’s your choice to go panavision or not.
The rest of DS4’s interior is cleanly executed with a quality, soft-touch feel wherever your fingers wander, and there are groovy colour-changing digital clocks to enjoy. I went for the cool-blue colour to highlight my speedo and engine revs; a subliminal calming influence, perhaps.
The petrol drive:
The 200bhp, as the name implies, DSport THP 200 gets its range-topping grunt from a 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that’s been put to good use through the current Citroen range.
It’s small enough in capacity to deliver good stats in the frugal vs. performance department, at 149g/km of CO2, 44.1mpg combined and £130 per year in road tax. And thanks to that quick-spooling turbo the quick-stats are pleasant enough, with 62mph arriving in 8.5secs and a plenty fast top speed of 146mph.
If found the THP 200’s clutch a little too springy for my tastes but once used to it I soon found myself enjoying the 6-speed manual gearbox, and I found it best to work all six of those forward ratios to get the most from the perky powerplant.
I didn’t get tons of torque to play with, but that’s the payback from a more frugal, small capacity engine mated to a smaller turbo, but once the revs build and turbo lifts off, the DSport can make pretty rapid progress. And at the other end of the sprint the big front brakes were always ready to haul up this DS quickly.
The suspension is firmer, in keeping with the DS range dynamics, and this means the DSport will turn in quickly enough and without too much of the dreaded bodyroll that the taller suspension might suggest.
With the 19-inch wheels on this DSport car and that firm ride there was the odd harder reaction to more fearsome potholes, and a little front-end squirm during hard acceleration, but nothing out of the ordinary for a car that wants to entertain, both on the road and visually.
The engine note is quite deep and satisfying but not overly audible; bearing in mind the more mature buyer, and with its poised cornering behaviour and not overly goading engine note I did sometimes find myself going a little quicker than I thought. Engine and road noise are very discreet, again failing to remind me of the speed accrued. But this is no shape for complaint; just remember that this 200bhp coupe is quick.
The diesel drive:
With its easygoing – and very refined and quiet – 2-litre, turbo-diesel engine, the DStyle HDi 160 is the most entirely straightforward of these two DS4 test car models to drive.
Just roll the clutch out and the smoothly torquey motor picks up without fuss, and you’re off. Where the THP 200 feels more performance-edgy – with more sporting intentions it should – the HDi 160 has a quiet strength that just gets on with the driving job. Just what motorway mile munchers will want.
Again with a 6-speed manual gearbox that works well with the engine; this 160bhp HDi has enough surging grunt for some fun, when the motorway work done. But, for the most part, it’s such an easy and quiet car to drive that I found myself blissfully unaware of the forward conveying work carrying on unobtrusively beneath me, while the smaller 18-inch alloys wrapped in slightly taller tyres, found on this DStyle trim, also helped to further soften the blow of bigger potholes.
Frugal-facts come in at 134g/km for the HDi 160, attracting road tax at £115 per year, while Citroen quote a combined economy figure of 55.4mpg, which is a decent representation for this size of car.
Ten second sum up:
The Citroen DS4 continues the stylish DS line with bold and crafted coupe-esque bodywork and solid, quality-feeling interior space, all helped along with wide and modern engine options; ranging way from super-frugal to pretty potent. Buyers have been asking for a higher driving position, but with sleeker-looking coupe style, and that’s what DS4 delivers.
Prices and availability:
The Citroen DS4 range starts at £18,150 OTR for the DS4 DSign VTi 120, rising to £23,950 for the DS4 DSport HDi. Prices as tested; £22,950 (plus optional extras) for the DStyle HDi 160 and £23,650 for the DSport THP 200. Citroen DS4 goes on sale July 4 with orders and enquiries taken now.
By Daniel Anslow
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