It was only a matter of time before the excellent properties of the modern day Citroen(s) got a "divine" character in a proper DS line, which is making its unique mark in the premium segment. The DS 4 was de second Citroën model to enter the DS line, and this happened for the international markets already in 2011.
Fully justified, in our opinion, and we are now even more convinced after spending a week behind the wheel of a top of the range "Sport Chic" DS 4. This DS did not only breathe refined luxury, but also displayed superb performance, thanks to a further improved Euro 6 compliant 2 litre 150 HP blue HDi Diesel engine, which combined power with smoothness and frugality.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
French refinement on wheels...
Stepping into this DS and sliding into the leather seats one is enveloped by elegance and French ingeniosity and originality. A large round speedometer set in an aluminum rim faces you directly, and shines to you in a deep blue light which matches very well with the dark interior and the aluminium accents found around the vent openings and instruments.
Mind you, one can change the intensity and the colour of the instrument lighting, when you are in a different mood (!). The speedometer, which can also display the driven speed digitally, is flanked by a rev counter and fuel gauge. Of course, a gear change indicator flashes up when one has chosen the "eco" driving mode.
The dashboard is superbly finished, and tastefully enlivened with aluminium inserts.
In the centre of the dashboard one finds a large 7 inch high definition tablet, which enables the intuitive use of navigation, sound and connectivity, functions. We are personally very fond of the screen layout and the letter font used, which is of the same type as the style used on the texts of our website...elegant and timeless!
We were also happy to find (still) a CD player, so we could take along our favourite Jazz Cd's, and listen to the mellow voices of Diana Krall, Lisa Ekdahl and Stacey Kent, and appreciate the excellent sound quality of the audio system. Of course, there is USB and aux connectivity, so hooking up all your devices is a breeze. On top of all that, there is also a Bluetooth driven music streaming function, so you shouldn’t be left out of your favourite music tracks...
In the centre armrest between the two front seats, one finds also an AC plug which provides 230 V current with 120 W power to charge or run your devices...neat!
The controls and knobs are well placed and quite intuitive to use. Setting up the heater/airco/climate control is totally intuitive. Also the audio and cruise control commands placed on the centre of the very nicely shaped steering wheel are very practical. We have always liked them on the Citroens, and were glad to find them back on this DS 4.
State of the art Diesel...
The new Euro 6 compliant BlueHDi 150 HP strong engine certainly raises the game, with 50 Nm more torque, 25 bhp higher power, an a 20% cut in CO2 emissions and fuel consumption compared with the HDi 135.
The figures speak for themselves: the new engine consumes just 3.9 l/100 km of fuel, emits a mere 100 g/km of CO2, yet develops a torque of 370 Nm, 20 to 70 Nm more than its main rivals.
The car we tested had a rather low mileage, but already the smoothness and quietness of this Diesel was quite surprising, and it further improved during the test. With pulling power abundant in every gear, it is hardly necessary to rev substantially above 2500 rpm. The performance figures speak for themselves: 0 to 100 is reached in merely 8,8 seconds, and top speed is an impressive 207 km, according to the manufacturer.
Needless to say that this DS, in the good tradition of its famous stylish ancestor(s), is a formidable high speed long legged cruiser.
The engine pulls smoothly from very low revs, and is also very pleasant to use in dense traffic, being very docile in bottom gear crawls, and providing instant response at the slightest blip of the throttle. In slow city traffic, the engine is virtually inaudible at low revs, showing clearly the expertise of PSA in building Diesel engines, and also in the four lower gears, vibrations at low revs are completely filtered out.
Following the gearchange indicator in the fifth and sixt gear at speeds between say 50 and 70 kph, and forcing the engine to deliver its power between some 1300 and 1500 rpm will lead to some vibrations, and one is often tempted to say in the lower gear just a bit longer and trade in some of the possible economy for more driveline smoothness.
As said, the engine is very frugal, the manufacturer quotes merely 4,4 litres /100 in city traffic, and during our test we achieved an average just below 5 litres /100 km, driving the low mileage car with some restraint, but always keeping within the traffic flow.
The gearbox changes smoothly, the gears are well spaced and the throw of the gearlever is "just right", so the six speed box is certainly no punishment to use. Of course, there is also the new EAT6 six-speed automatic transmission, we are very keen to put this gearbox to the test in the foreseeable future...
Drivetrain vibrations are virtually absent, with smoothness further increasing with mileage. As sais, it does not like very low revs in the two highest gears, which is understandable with this rather big 2 litre engine. No torque reactions are noticeable in the steering when accelerating vigorously. We also mention here that the DS comes already in the "Chic" base version with intelligent traction control.
DS automobiles have always stopped very well, and it is good to know that this DS 4 comes standard with ABS and emergency braking, and of course ESP and ASR.
Striking a unique balance..
Citroens, and therefore of course the DS line, achieve a wonderful compromise between handling and comfort. It is difficult to describe how special the road behaviour of a DS really is, one has to experience it more than anything else. Despite a certain firmness in the suspension setup, the DS 4 still manages to iron out undulating road surfaces and potholes completely, and notwithstanding all this high level suspension comfort, the DS still remains stable without any noticeable body roll when driven with spirit.
It truly excels in long, fast bends, has an unerring straight line stability, and remains rock steady on the chosen course, come wind, rain or storm, and all this on any road surface.
This masterfully stable road behaviour is one of the major charms in driving a DS, and this has been so since the very first DS, now a good 60 years ago.
Most remarkable is that this specific "DS" road behaviour and comfort, which originally was achieved with the revolutionary hybdropneumatic suspension, is now possible with a "classic" mechanical suspension, and we can only have the deepest admiration for the chassis and suspension designers who made this happen.
Based on the Citroen C4 II, the suspension has been raised and the car now resembles more a compact SUV. This slightly raised position gives the driver a more commanding and better view over the surroundings, and also makes getting in and out of the car easier.
The styling people also added a more coupé like silhouette to the car by raising the rear door handles and incorporating them in the rear window surrounds. The shape of the DS 4 seduces many, and right from the start this car won international awards, like "the most beautiful car of the year" in a New Zealand International Automobile Contest.
The German magazine Auto Bild and its partner magazines throughout Europe have given it 1st Prize for Design in its category in Design Award contest. We can only agree, the DS 4 looks well proportioned and elegant from any angle, and we especially liked the black metallic paint in combination with the all black interior. The seats were comfortable and elegant, and looked and felt very nice with their special grained leather. You really feel very well pampered in them, as they also have a massage functions...
Our test car came with the top of the line "Sport Chic" equipment, and this includes amongst others also front end distance warning/parking aid, dead angle warning system and last but not least for your safety the DS connect box and SOS warning function with assistance included.
The DS 4 earns very high marks in style, performance and last but not least economy. The DS magic comes to you undistilled, in cabin refinement, unique suspension behaviour and long legged high speed cruising abilities, in the truest Gran Turismo spirit.
The car is roomy enough for four, maybe five, and is a pleasure to drive with increased ride height, giving it a touch of SUV character, which brings all the advantages of better usability and stepping in and out of the car, certainly for more senior drivers. The car looks very good from any angle, is roomy, practical, and of convincing build quality.
A goddess on the road? We certainly are (very) convinced...as we were getting a divine feeling behind the wheel!
Hans Knol ten Bensel