Seduction starts with looks. And to increase its chances of success, the DS 4 is available in two guises. The standard "4" is a traditional hatchback, but one with an extravagant design. Sharp lines, unusual shapes and pronounced accents make for a unique appearance.
To respond to the high demand for SUVs, the DS 4 also comes as a "Cross" (not shown here). This has a more adventurous character thanks to more emphatic bumpers, bumpers all around and roof racks. Regardless of the version chosen, both versions share the same dimensions, technology and ground clearance. The "Cross" is thus limited to a different trim.
Space and equipment
Inside, DS offers a choice of ambiances, named after districts in Paris. The difference here is not only in the equipment level, but also in the decoration, choice of materials and colour palette. Compared to the other DS models, the interior is less extravagantly designed, so a larger group will feel comfortable in the car.
Still the link with the fashion world is obvious thanks to the stitching, decorative elements and attention to detail. For example, the buttons for opening and closing the side windows are incorporated into the lines of the door panel, so that they are not a disturbing factor but rather an ornament. The air vents on the dashboard are hidden behind the buttons, so they do not disturb the lines. The only miss: to adjust the volume of the radio, two physical buttons are available, while the temperature can only be set via the display.
Space in the front is good. As all is adjustable, drivers of varying stature can find a good seating position. Thanks to the relatively large wheelbase, space in the rear is above average, although this depends on the type of front seats. The boot is plagued by a substantial lift threshold, but it is also above average for a car in this segment.
To deliver on the promise of "premium" quality, every DS 4 is richly equipped. All the luxury and safety features DS has at hand are also available in this mid-size model! This includes less common items such as glass with sound insulation, an extra-large head-up display, adaptive headlights and a night-vision camera. Only a rear seat with massage function and heating is reserved for the top model, the DS 9. The DS 4 is even the first DS to feature the new "Iris" infotainment system, which allows one to arrange screens and menus yourself. An amusing detail: to literally and figuratively set the tone, the sat nav has a slightly posh voice.
Editor's favourite is the Focal audio system. DS is not the only brand to partner with this French speaker specialist, but it is the only one to supply the superior "Electra" line in the car. The sound is clear yet warm, powerful but never tiring and, above all, very musical. To put it even more clearly, the DS 4 has the best audio system in its class!
The DS 4 sits on the same platform as the larger DS 7 and DS 9, albeit in a shortened version. So the DS 4 does not share technology with the Citroën C4 or Opel Astra, which come from the same parent company. The platform also allows the "4" to distinguish itself with its driving characteristics.
Here, DS opts for sophistication. The steering is light but precise. Similarly, the brakes allow easy and at the same time precise dosing. Because of this refinement, the DS 4 lends itself to calm and almost stately driving. In "Comfort" mode, a camera reads the road surface and the suspension adjusts at lightning speed to changing conditions. Don't expect miracles from this, however. "Active Scan Support" manages to slightly soften sharp edges, but is not as effective as (much more expensive) air suspension. When steered sharper, the DS 4 is nimble and lively. This is partly due to its relatively low weight.
For now, the DS 4 is only available with petrol and hybrid engines, making the car much lighter than the now more tested all-electric cars. An all-electric version is planned for 2024.
For this test, the 225 PS petrol engine was driven first. Like all other versions, it comes with an automatic as standard. This strongest petrol engine on the price list is quiet and powerful, again lending the DS 4 to both stately and comfortable travel and sporty excesses. However, the powerplant does not come with any form of electrical assistance. During a test drive on a simple course (flat, low speeds, calm weather), the DS 4 therefore recorded a consumption of 6.8 litres per 100 km, which is too high for a car like this.
When then switching into the e-TENSE, it feels like a leap forward in time. For the first 55 km, the e-TENSE is significantly quieter, smoother and faster than the standard petrol engine. Still, in full electric mode, this plug-in hybrid does not behave like a full electric car. To save space, the electric motor is built into the gearbox, with the result that even in electric mode, acceleration is interrupted by shifting gears. For those used to an electric car (which generally has no gearbox), this feels unnatural. Regardless of the engine chosen, the DS 4 is very quiet up to around 110 km/h, above which driving noise increases rapidly.
Unfortunately, the e-TENSE cannot automatically distribute the available energy over the drive. As a rule, it drives electric until the battery runs low, then the electronics switch to hybrid mode in which both engines complement each other. This cooperation is silent, smooth and jerk-free, but it would be smarter to use information from the sat nav to drive electric in town and use the petrol engine on the motorway. In the absence of an electronic brain, the test driver himself chose the right moments to drive electric or, on the contrary, petrol. This resulted in a consumption of 3.9 litres per 100 km on the same course as the first test car. So the DS 4 not only manages to turn heads with its looks, but also appeals to the mind with low running costs.
Does DS's new mid-size car convince with above-average qualities? Yes, definitely! The DS 4 manages to convince with refinement, both in design and driving characteristics. Thanks to its typically French design, DS manages to seduce customers who do not feel at home with other brands' "premium" models.
Even when judged purely by reason, the DS 4 manages to convince. The DS 4 is a notch larger than other mid-range cars and exploits this by offering just a bit more luggage space and legroom in the rear. Regardless of the chosen trim level, the equipment is rich and modern. With its combination of power, performance and consumption, the plug-in hybrid scores above average and completes the seduction.
- Rich, modern equipment
- Refined chassis / good handling
- Available as a petrol, hybrid and electric car
- Safety belt not adjustable in height
- Cabin temperature can only be set from menu on screen
- Plug-in hybrid cannot automatically distribute energy over route