Ever since its separation from Citroen, DS Automobiles has set its sights on competing with premium vehicle manufacturers on their terms, and the DS 4 is the newest model in its expanding inventory.
Want to learn about the DS4?
You may recall the DS 4 when it still sported a double-chevron badge on its hood. To be honest, it was a half-hearted and lacklustre effort that couldn't compete with the competition. This current model, on the other hand, has a distinct - almost concept car-like - design and an interior that makes a statement. That should give it the confidence it needs to compete with the established luxury options.
Most drivers' needs will be met by the DS 4's entry-level 129 bhp PureTech 130 engine, especially if they do most of their driving in town. It's adaptable and quick to accelerate, albeit it does run out of fuel on motorway slip roads.
The 178bhp PureTech 180 and the most powerful PureTech 225 petrol engines perform better in this category. We tested the 225, and while it hesitates a little when pulling away, it quickly picks up speed after you leave the lower end of the rpm range. With 220bhp, it's easy to reach highway speeds, and according to official numbers, it can sprint from 0-60mph in 7.9 seconds.
The E-Tense plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version with 221bhp is even faster, with no low-down delay. It takes off rapidly thanks to its electric assist, going from 0-60mph in 7.7 seconds. That means you have all the speed you need, but the Audi Q3 TFSI e and Cupra Formentor will both complete the sprint in less than 7.0 seconds, while the BMW X2 xDrive25e has an official time of 6.8 seconds.
The eight-speed automatic transmission in the DS 4's base model shifts through the gears quite smoothly as it goes up, but as it comes down, it shifts jerkily, making it challenging to smoothly slow down.
When compared to the Audi Q3 or BMW X2, the DS 4's interior design truly puts on a show and creates a more festive atmosphere. The few buttons that are present, like the window switches on the driver's door and the actual air conditioning controls, perfectly merge into the design, making it quite uncluttered.
On all variants, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster that clearly and precisely shows vital information is standard. On all trim levels, except for Bastille+ and Performance Line, a big head-up display that is very easy to read and can be set to show sat-nav directions supports the digital instrument cluster.
Tall adults can sit in the front seats of the DS 4 with ample leg and shoulder space. Even a six-footer would have plenty of headroom unless you choose the optional sunroof, which significantly lowers it.
The dashboard has a simple look, but there are many storage areas, including a covered area with a pair of cupholders, a USB outlet, and a place for your phone. There is also a little recess in front of the armrest for your keys, as well as a large cubby inside the armrest. Despite not being the largest, you can fit a drink and a few other stuff in the door bins.
Rear space isn't nearly as vast, and six-footers in either of the outside seats will find themselves lacking in knee room. Fortunately, there is plenty of space under the front seats for their feet, which helps to alleviate the problem.
If you intend to throw longer goods into the boot, all trim levels save the base Bastille + include a useful ski hatch that allows it to pass through to the middle rear seat. However, all variants include 60/40 split rear seat backs, allowing you to enlarge the boot at the expense of one or two rear seats.
The contoured interior of the DS 4 contributes to its upscale feel, making it a good - if pricey - alternative to the traditional family SUVs. However, the subpar gearbox, average performance, and limited rear room mean that it falls short of several of its rivals, including the Audi Q3 and Cupra Formentor.
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