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The Citroen DS4?

Looks like a Citroen DS4 with a new front end…

That’s because it is. Only, it’s not a Citroen DS4 anymore. It’s a DS Automobiles 4 – or DS[space]4, if you’d prefer.

For why? Well, it’s all part of Citroen’s grand plan to establish DS as a thriving, premium brand in its own right. So far, the 5 has been facelifted and robbed of anything and everything that identifies it as a Citroen. The DS 4 is next in line to receive the same treatment.

So what’s changed?  

Mostly the DS 4’s front end, but there is some new tech on offer, plus a few new engines and some new styling options. All par for the course.

But never mind that. We’re still struggling with the whole concept, because the DS 4 defies classification. It is a hatchback, but you can’t sit anyone tall in the back because the doors and windows are tiny, and that sloping roofline robs them of much-needed headroom.

You sit high, and the ride height feels almost that of a compact crossover, but it’s not that either. Unless it’s the new Crossback we’re talking about – in which case it kinda is. A coupe? DS would certainly have you believe it. We’re not convinced.

5

Crossback?

Not, as we first thought, an exotic manoeuvre one might attempt with a consenting partner. No, the Crossback is actually a DS 4 with a 30mm bump in ride height, and some shiny new trim to encourage ‘urban and extra-urban adventure’. Whatever that is.

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More height equals more lean, surely?

Not as much as you might think. There’s a bit more than in the DS 4 hatch-coupe, but not enough to ruin the whole experience. A more concerning side-effect is the ride, which in the Crossback is neither settled nor soft enough. Not uncomfortable, but not as cosseting as it should be in a compact-premium-coupe-crossover-hatch thing.

How about the standard DS 4?

Still too firm, but more settled. The drive is similar, whether you go for the Crossback or not. A big steering wheel makes the DS 4 feel a bit cumbersome at first and at low speeds – in fact, the whole thing feels big and solid, which isn’t a bad thing per se.

But start threading it through some corners, and the DS 4 actually acquits itself rather well, with weighty steering and decent composure. It still has hydraulic power steering, after all. Not even a 911 GT3 RS gets that these days.

Interior any good?

Bit dated, if we’re honest, but it can be smartened up with lashings of (optional) leather. The centre screen runs on the same OS as it did before, but now you don’t have to use it because Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are bundled in.

There’s the panoramic windscreen, dials that change colour at the push of a button (your choices are white, purple, purpler or purplest), and massaging seats, too. It all feels pretty well screwed together.

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Engines?

We drove two DS 4s – a 207bhp petrol you won’t buy, and a 177bhp diesel you might.

The petrol is not an ideal match for the DS 4. It’s the same 1.6-litre that, in essence, PSA fits to the 208 GTI et al. It makes for a fairly swift DS 4, no doubt about it, but it’s loud, not massively economical, and in no way suits the car’s Gallic character.

The 2.0-litre diesel is better, even though it still can’t match the levels of refinement offered by some of Citroen’s rivals. You can only have it with an auto, and this is no bad thing – the whole combo is better tailored to the DS 4’s way of going about things.

Kickdown can be a bit… let’s say ‘sudden’, but on the whole it’s smooth enough. Most Brits will go for the smaller 1.6-litre diesel, with its official 74.3mpg rating.

Should I buy one?

The DS 4 does have a certain French-ness that is fairly appealing. And some of the details – because it’s all in the details – are pretty neat. For some it will be different, stylish and French enough to warrant its £19,495 (£21,745 for the Crossback) price tag. Most, we suspect, won’t be so brave.

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