2013 CITROEN DS4 REVIEW
What’s Hot: Hot-hatch handling with diesel torque and economy
What’s Not: Overly firm suspension, EMG auto not the smoothest out there
X-Factor: Certainly stylish and unique enough in the small hatch market to warrant some attention
Vehicle Style: Small hatch
Price: DSport HDi diesel $40,490 (plus on-roads)
DStyle HDi diesel $37,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 120kW/340Nm 4cyl diesel | 6spd auto
Fuel Economy (listed): 5.7 l/100km; (tested) 6.4 l/100km
Under the DS4 DSport HDi diesel's snout lurks a modern 2.0 litre turbo-intercooled diesel. It puts out a very robust 340Nm of torque and 120kW of power.
Those are good numbers in a relatively small hatch. Enough, we'd expect, for Citroen's DS4 to keep a Volkswagen Golf GTi honest around a mountain pass.
While the new Golf GTi is considerably more powerful, and much quicker off the line, the little Citroen has quite a bit more torque (and in the real world of driving, it's torque that perhaps matters most).
The fairest match of course would see the Citroen lined up against Volkswagen's Golf GTD, but that's now gone leaving the Golf 110TDI as the snappiest diesel in the Golf range. (And which, incidentally, is quicker to 100km/h than the DS4.)
So, handling and performance, yet diesel economy. Can the Citroen DS4 DSport HDi rightly wear the hot-hatch tag?
The DS4 is available in two models - DStyle and DSport - in both petrol and diesel. Then there are five leather interior trims to choose from, with style and colour variations including black, red and white.
As with the DS4’s big sister, the DS5, the seats offer a massage function and are also available in hand-made 'watchstrap' leather finish, which certainly adds character.
The DStyle interior features a digital tachometer, climate control, retractable sun visors (which we like), drawers under the seats, USB, auxiliary and Bluetooth connectivity and aluminium pedals.
Step up to the DSport, and you also get heated front seats, sat-nav, electronic park-brake and a colour mutli function display screen.
Drivers can change settings for the interior mood-lighting and instrument cluster. For those who find the ticking of indicators annoying (anyone...?), there are four different tonal variations to choose from in the DS4.
Sticking with the instrument cluster, the quirky speedometer needle hugs the outside of the dial, rather than pivoting from the middle (how very French).
Inside, it works well, there is a plush feel to things lacking in some of its nearest competitors, and we found it comfortable, quirky and interesting.
ON THE ROAD
Only the 147kW 1.6 litre turbo-petrol DS4 can be specified with a manual transmission.
The HDi diesel comes with one choice, and one choice only - a six-speed automatic. But don't assume that this means the diesel is underdone, it's not.
The DS4 HDi diesel is, in fact, a very decent drive and a bit of a surprise really.
On road, there is no sense that it is diminished by the diesel engine.
It certainly doesn’t leave you looking for more horsepower. With 340Nm and 120kW underfoot, the little Citroen is brisk on road, quickly finds its feet when overtaking and can chew up a mountain road.
Flicking across to ‘sport’ mode with the auto enlivens the drive even more, and shifts can be taken in hand manually (though the +/- plane on the gate).
That said, the six-speed EMG transmission (electro-hydraulic) is a tad unusual and not the smoothest auto in the business.
Ride-quality is also something you will have to sacrifice, especially in the slightly edgier DS4 Sport. But, while it's overly firm, it has the handling and balance to stand up to most challengers in the small hot-hatch market.
The downside is that the very firm suspension transmits bigger bumps into the cabin - but don't let that put you off tackling a winding road.
There’s good grip from the standard rubber and nice alloys (a choice of 17-inch to 19-inch), each with an Australian flavour (with names like 'Canberra' and 'Brisbane').
ANCAP rating: 5 stars (35.68 points out of 37)
Safety features: Electronic brake force distribution, emergency brake assist and ABS, electronic stability program (ESP), Security Pack (six airbags and seatbelt warning light), four-wheel disc brakes, and hill-start assist (among a longer list).
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years / 100,000km
Service costs: All DS models come with capped-price servicing, set at $360 per year or 20,000 kms (whichever comes first) for the first three years or 60,000km of the vehicle’s life.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT I
We were quite surprised with the Citroen DS4.
The range, for a 'classier-than-most' Euro, is reasonably well-priced, starting at $34,990 for the petrol DStyle automatic, rising to $37,990 for the diesel DS4 DStyle and $40,490 for the DSport diesel.
That puts the sticker-price of the up-spec model below the Volkswagen Golf GTi.
But the well-equipped, diesel-powered DS4 DStyle and DSport offer a premium interior feel, smart individual lines, a strong diesel and lean thirst.
The suspension is a bit firm for our tastes (especially the DSport), but you'll enjoy the flat, well-balanced handling.
Despite the lack of manual transmission, Citroen's unique little DS4 HDi diesel hatch warrants a close look by keen drivers.
Especially by those bored with the predictable 'same-ness' of most of its competitors.
CITROEN DS4 RANGE
- DS4 Dstyle 120kW Turbo Petrol Auto - $34,990
- DS4 Dstyle 120kW HDi Auto - $37,990
- DS4 Dsport 120kW Turbo Petrol Auto - $37,490
- DS4 Dsport 120kW HDi Auto - $40,490
- DS4 Dsport 147kW Turbo Petrol Manual - $39,490
- Metalic Paint - $800
- Pearlescent Paint - $1,000
- Premium Pearlescent paint - $1,000
- Leather - $2,000
- Watchstrap and Two -Tone Leather - $1,500