Some fine engines but otherwise neither sporty nor comfortable enough
Smart cabin but dashboard controls are too fiddly
Well equipped to protect, with top rating in Euro NCAP crash tests
Citroen has a decent record and DS4 feels well made
Rear seats are cramped, and boot is a bit small, too
Even entry-level cars get plenty of equipment as standard
The DS4 is designed to be a sporty hatchback, and the stiff suspension certainly does its part - the car has loads of grip, and its body stays poised and upright on tight bends despite the fact that the car is slightly raised compared to the standard C4. Unfortunately the steering feels strangely remote so it doesn't give you the confidence to take fast corners, or to take advantage of the swift pace of the two engines we've driven so far, the 197bhp turbocharged 1.6 petrol and the 161bhp 2.0 diesel. What's more, the ride is so firm that the car thuds uncomfortably over potholes and bumps in the road, and is jittery over even smooth surfaces. Refinement isn't class-leading, either, including noticeable wind noise at motorway speeds. There are also two lower-powered diesel engines on offer, and three other diesels.
The dashboard sports plenty of smart, squidgy plastics and only the cheap-looking partition between the driver and front passenger marrs the quality feel. The stereo controls are a bit confusing, however, and the steering wheel is overloaded with tiny buttons. The raised driving position gives a good view forward but the tiny back window hampers the rear view.
There's plenty of space for the front two occupants but the compromise for the car's sleek exterior shape is the cramped rear seats and the bulky wheel-arches that make it awkward to get in the back in the first place. By putting form over function, Citroen has also removed the facility for rear passengers to open their windows. The wheel arches eat into the boot space, too.
Entry-level DSign cars come with electric front windows, cruise control, air-con and front foglamps that follow the direction of the headlights. Next up is DStyle trim, which adds automatic lights and wipers, climate control, parking sensors and Bluetooth, while DSport cars get leather upholstery. All models have Isofix on the outer rear seats.
Citroen has a pretty good record for mechanical reliability, so there should be no major concerns here. It's also reassuring to know that the DS4 received the maximum five stars in crash tests by Euro NCAP, and all models have six airbags (including curtain 'bags for the rear windows) plus electronic stability control to help you avoid a crash in the first place. Top-trim cars also come with a blind-spot monitoring system.
The DS4 is more expensive than many rivals with a posher badge, and it's not even that great to drive. Citroens tend to lose their value quickly, too. On the plus side, it's relatively efficient and the e-HDi version (an automatic diesel) sits in the lowest company car tax band for diesel cars.