Citroen DS4 – is it worthy of the iconic badge?

Back in 2009 when Citroen officially re-launched the DS it promised the range would be like “nothing ever seen before”.

They weren’t wrong and the DS3 simply blew us away.

The secret? … space age design and quality.

Now, this was not unfamiliar territory for the French Marque, the history was there.

Engineers simply decided to draw on the one thing that made the brand synonymous with luxury and which put them on the automotive map.

There’s not a must-have top 10 cars to own list that doesn’t have a place for iconic DS – the first mass produced European car with disc brakes, power steering, directional headlamps and the now legendary hydro pneumatic self-levelling suspension.

It debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 1955 and by the close of business eight hours later – 12,000 orders had been placed.

Motoring journalists and punters alike were mesmerised by the ride quality, handling, level of luxury and futuristic aerodynamic design.

Over the next 20 years the French car giant went on to sell 1.5 million worldwide – picking up shed load of awards including Most Beautiful Car in the Classic Sports Car gongs and coming third in the Car of the Century honours.

And all well deserved … just look at it?

A magnificent piece of art, but more importantly a marker for anyone else considering entering the premium end of the market.

So, the standards had been set and almost four decades on the mother of such perfection was to be judged once again.

Only this time it would be a brand within a brand

d. First behind the velvet rope was the DS3 which went down a storm and sent shudders down rivals like MINI and the Audi A1 in both desirability and driveability.

Hot on its heels comes the DS4 which is equally desirable in its retro ‘all things to all men design’.

What I mean by that is this is not a simply a hotter, sleeker, more refined and luxurious C4.

So is it an SUV crossover?

Is it a 4-door coupe?

Is it a funky hatchback?

Erm, yes – it all of the above, yet not specifically any particular one.

The one thing it couldn’t be accused of is being bland.

It’s chunky, yet sleek, sexy but slightly ugly and above all bold and imaginative.

Sunken handles in the rear fly windows (which do not open) and the protruding Madonna bra-shaped rear doors fascinate and confuse in equal measure.

Thankfully, inside it is a lot more serene with smatterings of leather at every touch, atmospheric lighting and little luxuries like massaging front seats to keep that tush nice and supple.

There is plenty of room for both driver and passengers alike including a generous boot with 360 litres of space which almost doubles when the seats are rearranged.

Likewise there is loads to gadgets and gizmos including Stop/Start, Hill Start, Cruise Control, Bluetooth, auto lights and wipers, LED running lamps, heated part leather seats, multifunction steering wheel and 19-inch alloys.

One absolutely brilliant feature is the sliding sun visors which retract part of the roof to reveal a panoramic windscreen – flooding the cabin with light on these darker days.

So simple, yet so effective.

The drive though wasn’t just as exciting as the overall look and feel of the DS4.

Maybe I was expecting too much and to be fair, the test car we had is the mid-range 1.6 litre, 110 bhp six speed diesel.

Although lacking any real urgency, it proved a dream on the motorway when you got the wind behind her.

It proved mega frugal on long jaunts – returning 50mpg while emissions are kept to under 120g/km meaning €104 annual road tax.

Handling-wise it was hard to judge it capabilities in the less torquey 1.6, but there is a serious 200 bhp petrol and a 2.0 litre 163bhp diesel in the range which is sure to prove me wrong.

If you are expecting the same experience as the DS3 only on a bigger and bolder scale then you will be disappointed – in the 110bhp anyway – but if turning heads is your thing then it’s a winner all round.

The DS4 range comes in three specs, DSign, DStyle and DSport.

Prices start at €23,995.

– Philip Hedderman