Citroen C4: Premium pretender

  • We pitch the DS4 model up against our C4
  • Pitched as premium alternative to our car
  • Is the additional cost for the DS justified?

Citroen’s decision to bring the DS name back from the dead has been a bit of a mixed bag.

The DS3 has been a big success. It’s a cooler and more interesting alternative to the standard C3, which has even given MINI a run for its money. The new DS5 follows in a similar vein, as it's a more modern and upmarket feeling alternative to the rather tired-looking C5.

In between these two cars came the DS4. Unfortunately, it didn’t receive the same praise and fanfare as the other models in the DS line-up.

With a DS4 in for a week it seemed to be the ideal opportunity to get the two cars back-to-back. I was interested to see if the DS4 was a genuine premium upgrade, and which car you should opt for if you have your heart set on a Citroen with the number four in the title.

The first obvious thing you notice is that the exterior design of the DS4 isn't really a major departure from that of the C4's. The slightly jacked up look, and sleeker rear end styling, makes it stand out a little more - but not by much. The hidden rear door handles are a nice little touch though.

Things start to stutter a little when you get inside the car. Get in the front seat and, apart from the DS badging and a few extra pieces of upgraded material, you would think you were just in the C4. You want a few little design touches and features that make it stand out more, and take it to a level above our long term test car.

The real problems start when you get in to the back of the car. It’s been highlighted by a lot of people on many occasions, but the fact that you can’t wind down the rear windows still baffles me. The reasoning by the French firm is that it is a coupe crossover. That’s madness, of course, so if you want a car with opening rear windows then the standard C4 is the sensible choice.

We had the top specification HDi 160 Dstyle DS4 model to test. With 163bhp, it’s a little more powerful than our car, but not so much that you notice. At the same time, fitted with 18-inch alloys, the DS4's ride is rather hard which makes longer journeys quite unpleasant. Our C4 can feel a little too soft at times, but at least it’s comfortable.

Finally, there’s the price. This DS4 model starts at £22,950. However, with options – including metallic paint, xenon lights, sat-nav, upgraded stereo and side rubbing strips – the car we tested came to a rather costly £26,650. Our car, with a similar list of cost options, comes to a much more reasonable £24,235.

So, if you are desperate for a Citroen brought to you by the number four, you’re better off going for the standard C4. It has rear windows that open, offers a smoother ride and similar power, and costs £2,000 less.

Current mileage: 15,865

Average mpg: 45.8