It was the sales success of the stylish DS 3 in the UK that gave Citroen the inspiration last June to set up a spin-off company, DS Automobiles, to revive the tradition of premium cars designed and created in France.
For its third model DS has gone into the booming £€˜crossover£€™ category with the new DS 4 Crossback which blends hatchback and sports utility vehicle (SUV) styling in a compact package.
It£€™s a good looker and has slide-back sun visors for more upwards vision and a panoramic windscreen view which combined with a slightly higher seating position makes you feel you are driving a larger car than you are.
Prices start at £21,745 and there is only one trim level roughly equivalent to Prestige on the DS 4 hatchback. That means tons of standard equipment including 18in gloss black alloy wheels, part leather seats, a seven inch touch screen that operates the satellite navigation, DAB radio and CD player, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, tyre pressure monitoring, rear parking sensors, cruise control and speed limiter, and night time £€˜black panel£€™ instrument panel.
The electronic stability system includes intelligent traction control for less stable surfaces and the car has a 30mm higher ride height than the DS 4 hatchback for tackling farm tracks.
Connected services for mobile smart phones includes Mirror Link and Apple Car Play.
There£€™s a choice of four different roof colours. Like all DS models, the Crossback is available with Connect Box, which includes SOS assistance; a virtual maintenance manual with mileage monitoring, service reminders and eco-driving tips; a mapping pack which sends an e-mail if the vehicle enters or leaves a given area and tracking in case the car is stolen.
Options on the test car of metallic paint (£530) and keyless entry and engine start (£300) pushed the list price to £24,315. We tested the 119bhp turbo-diesel but the Crossback is also available with smoother 128bhp turbocharged petrol or a 178bhp turbo-diesel but this last engine only comes with a rather jerky automatic gearbox.
The 1560cc turbo diesel pulls well from 1,750rpm and delivers reasonable performance with 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds. The official combined fuel consumption is 72.4 mpg. We managed 47.6mpg and 52.3mpg. Road holding proved secure during heavy rain on bumpy and sometimes partly flooded roads near Newbury, Berkshire, and quick steering makes the car nicely agile.
Considering the extra ride height body lean in corners is well controlled and the ride much smoother than the last DS4 that I drove. Without all terrain tyres I wasn£€™t going to attempt a muddy field though. Myself and an Irish colleague found the front sport seats comfortable but rear seat space and access is poor.
The door openings are short and there isn£€™t much legroom. It seems to have been compromised to create a good size boot. And, just like the old Citroen DS4, the rear windows do not open which I wouldn£€™t like. To meet DS£€™s premium ambitions for the car, it really needs its own interior. There is still too much Citroen here. Leather trim for the dashboard and doors would be a big help but costs £1,500 extra.
There are some heated and massaging front seats in lovely leather but they are also optional and £1,500. A blogger tweeted the interior was as good as a Bentley while the glitzy lights could grace a Maserati! No wonder car makers often prefer less critical bloggers to motoring journalists!
Sounds like he is hoping for a long term test car. In the meantime DS won£€™t really show what it can do until the new generation models in about 18 months time.
Verdict Got the looks but needs more substance