DS 4 Crossback

 

   “Whatever you do don’t call it a Citroen” said the delivery driver before handing me the keys to what I should correctly refer to as the DS4 Crossback. Or is it a 4 Crossback from DS Automobiles? The truth is I’m still not really quite sure.

   Using the kind of infinite wisdom that only Citroen can, the ever-so slightly out-there and archetypally French manufactuerer des voitures have decided to split the company into two separate divisions. Citroen will remain as they always have, ready to take on the likes of Ford, Vauxhall, arch-rival Renault, sister company Peugeot, et-al, whereas DS will emerge to take on the more upmarket, more premium role in a bid to rival the likes of (believe it or not) Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Volvo and all of the other brands more usually found on the drives in the more salubrious parts of suburbia.

    Not being one to give-in quite so easily, I did eventually find a Citroen logo on the DS, on a sticker on the B-pillar. I found a Peugeot Lion emblem too under the bonnet, on the engine mount. Nevertheless, on all of the bits and badges that you can see - or perhaps the bits DS automobiles want your neighbours to see –it says DS: It even says DS on the number-plates. Like many a social-climber the DS4 Crossback seems desperate to hide its humble roots.

    Funny, because truth be told there’s nothing particularly wrong with the DS4’s Crossback’s inevitably Citroen/PSA Group sourced underpinnings. Power comes from a 1.6 litre turbocharged diesel unit that provides more than adequate day-to day performance (120bhp, 221llbft of torque, and 0-62 in 10.2 seconds) and also the promise of up to 72.4 mpg on the combined cycle. Over a week of mixed driving I got low to mid 50s, but that’s still not to be sniffed at. The gear shift it’s coupled to too is also quite pleasing, managing to be both light and accurate in equal measure. The ride the is quite good, if a little busy sometimes, the front seats comfy, the raised driving position well-judged if perhaps left wanting a little more reach adjustment on the steering column, and the list of standard equipment generous. All DS4 Crossbacks get the full Prestige spec plethora of extras that includes, directional LED lighting, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth , nav, leather seats, 7 inch touchscreen, DAB, keyless entry and start, and even Apple Carplay.

   But alas, none of the above or a multi-lettered rounded rump that reminds some of Porsche’s Macan (or was that just me?) does a luxury or premium car make.

    Any illusions of DS being an up-market brand are soon lost as soon you start tapping a knuckle or two on the hard and scratchy interior plastics or poking a finger at any of decidedly budget-brand feeling minor switchgear. Reach for the light-switch as dusk falls and you’re instantly greeted by an interior that seems to have been designed with no coherent theme, and one that seems to have been gathered together from various sources. The Speedo glows white, the fuel and rev-counter blue, the heater controls orange and the electric parking brake red. The range of colours and lack of unification would give a Bavarian engineer enough nightmares to last a lifetime.

    Rear seat passengers are also left wanting. Not only does the DS4 Crossback offer them little in the way of either leg or head room, thanks in part to its coupe-esque rear styling, but the deliberately pointy rear doors – which themselves seem to have been designed specifically to decapitate anyone below 5 feet tall or impale anyone above (they are form over function personified) - lack of any form of opening window, due to said design not being able to accommodate any kind of winding mechanism, be it hand-operated, or electric.

 A lack of any kind all-wheel drive option despite the Crossback’s “urban adventure” pretentions (whatever they might be?) and four-by-faux styling might not go down well with anyone should the going become soft either.

   Hash perhaps?

    It’s almost all too easy to be hard on the DS4 Crossback and yet it some ways it seems simply unfair. If you don’t need a huge amount of rear leg room and you’re looking for a car that offers something a bit different, a deviation from the regular SUV norm, it’s actually quite an easy, comfy, and let’s not forget economical, car to live with. But, and there’s no getting away from it: the DS4 is desperately trying to be something it simply can’t be. For £23,595 upwards there’s host of machinery available that’ll do the premium hatchback/SUV thing a whole lot better.

 For a little while at least, the more established brands can rest easy. 

 

 

DS4 Crossback BlueHDi 120

 

Engine: 1560cc 4Cyl 16V turbo-diesel

Transmission: 6 Speed Manual, front wheel drive.

Power:  120 bhp @ 3500 rpm

Torque: 221 lbft @ 1750 rpm

0-62MPH: 10.9 Sec

Max Speed: 117 mph

CO2: 103 g/km

MPG: 72.4 (combined)

Price: £23,595 (Car driven £24,325)

 

Many thanks to DS Automobiles UK press office for the loan of their DS4 Crossback

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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