Once a Citroen, the DS 4 is now part of the DS Automobiles range that chases Audi, BMW and other premium brands. Unlike the Germans, DS aims to be a lot more avant garde, with an eye on refinement and attention to detail.
So how do you make a Citroen into a DS? The most obvious change is up front; there’s the family grille and LED headlights with scrolling indicators. There’s also a selection of new or updated engines, the option of two-tone paint and new tech including Apple CarPlay.
What is the 2015 DS 4 Puretech 130 S&S Prestige like to drive?
We’ve already driven the most powerful petrol-powered DS 4, the 1.6 210 THP. This time we’re trying the 1.2 Puretech 130 petrol, which represents the entry-level option.
The 1.2-litre unit develops 129bhp and always feel eager, only labouring on particularly steep hills. The characterful engine note can get a little noisy higher up the rev range but the standard six-speed manual gearbox is slick in its operation.
The suspension might have been heavily revised but the ride is still unsettled. Even over smooth roads, there’s constant vertical movement that makes it hard to relax. You will also feel every drain cover, pothole and expansion joint thump through the suspension.
Things are even worse around town, where the suspension will transmit every little bump through your seat. You’d think such stiff springing would equate to keen handling but sadly this never materialises.
Although there isn’t much body roll, the steering doesn’t feel natural and never weights up, while mid-corner bumps upset the DS 4 too much. Opt for the larger, 19in wheels and things get even worse.
At least average economy of 54.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 120g/km are an improvement on those of the old entry-level petrol.
What is the 2015 DS 4 Puretech 130 S&S Prestige like inside?
One of the first things you notice is the panoramic windscreen, which makes the cabin bright and airy up front.
The upper dashboard is stylishly moulded and feels of high quality. Elsewhere, there’s far too much cheap plastic for an allegedly premium product. It isn’t just lower down the dash either, the tops of the doors feel cheap as do the buttons on the centre console. At least the easy-to-use, standard-fit infotainment system with sat-nav simplifies the dash and keeps the button count down.
The seats are comfortable but while appearing to hold you in place, don't provide enough support when cornering. A massage function is available but doesn't work that well in practice. Various leathers are an option including a distinctive ‘watchstrap’ pattern that really lifts the interior.
While it’s easy to get comfortable up front, the rear is cramped and hard to access because of a small and awkwardly shaped door opening. With a six-foot driver up front, only children or short adults will fit in the rear seats.
Small, non-opening rear windows also make it feel claustrophobic. The boot isn’t a bad size at 380 litres but suffers from a high load lip. There are useful straps and a removable, rechargeable torch though.
Should I buy one?
The DS 4 comes with a good range of engines and high levels of standard equipment. Unfortunately it seems to have a bit of an identity crisis. The ride is far too firm to be a true luxury vehicle while the handling doesn’t prove fun enough to justify the stiff suspension. It also feels too cheap inside to be truly considered a premium vehicle.
Despite the rear doors, the back seats prove to be tricky to access and are far too cramped for most people so it isn’t overly practical either. Unless you really fall in love with the looks, there’s little to recommend to DS 4.
What Car? says...
DS 4 Puretech 130 S&S Prestige