What is it?
Good question. Running with the DS theme recently rolled out to great acclaim on the C3, Citroen has taken a new C4 and given it un peu de this and un soupçon de that to create something rather magical. It’s still a five-door hatchback, but it has the profile of a coupe and the ride height of a compact SUV. It’s a bit bonkers, then, and not entirely removed from the ridiculous twit magnet BMW X6, but somehow this has panache whereas the Beemer is resolutely vulgar. The mad genius of Citroen gone by is reawakening, and we like it. A lot.
Simplistic rear torsion bar and front MacPherson struts notwithstanding, the DS4 handles well. Far better than it probably should, given its size and ride height. The hydraulically assisted steering is sharp and accurate and provides a surprising amount of feedback, while that lofty body is impressively free from roll in faster corners. The suspension stiffness required to achieve this does mean the DS4 rides slightly less well than the standard C4, but it’s so much more fun to drive that the compromise seems infinitesimal.
The engines on offer are the usual solid, frugal diesels and three petrols developed in conjunction with BMW. These will give the DS4 the best chance of living up to its rakish coupe styling, but the reality is that the diesels will sell strongest in the UK with their excellent fuel returns, very low CO2 emissions and a decent level of overall refinement.
On the inside
There’s a bit more flash than functionality inside the DS4, bearing in mind that its status as an SUV crossover suggests a degree of practicality. Where we can forgive the DS3 a cramped and less accessible rear, it’s odd to face this in a family-orientated larger car. There is space enough back there, but it’s more claustrophobic than the C4, a problem compounded by fixed rear windows. Yes indeed.
Still, it’s all gravy up-front, with a superb driving position, lots of toys and a windscreen that goes right over your head. Although this does blind you when the sun pops out.
The DS4 is all about you. (And not your rear passengers, obviously.) It’s daringly different and promises to reward you on a daily basis for that. As for housekeeping, there are tax-efficient diesel-engine options aplenty here (the best are the e-HDi stop-start variants), and comparatively sporty petrol ones that still make economic sense. Residuals should be strong on any DS too. This is a great alternative to the popular-but-poor Mini Countryman. And Britain needs more of them.