For the past 12 months, we’ve held the keys to a diesel-powered, Tourmaline Orange-painted DS 4 Crossback.
It was a positive start for the Crossback. Its quirky styling is exactly what you’d want from a premium French car, the bright paint job drew admiring glances from most in the office, and the interior looked quality if a little outdated.
And then we drove it.
The driving position was impossible to get right, the rear windows couldn’t be opened, the rear door aperture intruded across the rear seats, and the suspension was somehow crashy and soft all at the same time.
The key problem is that DS is supposed to be a premium manufacturer. And while it’s still a new brand, it’s part of the PSA Group that includes Peugeot and Citroen, so it’s not like it’s still learning how to make cars.
Get behind the wheel of a rival such as the Mercedes-Benz GLA and you realise how far DS has to go. The interior of the German car is modern and well put together, and while the driving experience is far from electrifying, it soaks up bumps well without being wallowy. And for a comparable diesel model, the Mercedes doesn’t require much more cash.
It wasn’t a totally negative experience, though. With the cost of fuel so high, it was always reassuring to know that the 118bhp, 1.6-litre diesel engine did a great job of sipping on fuel – on a run from Portsmouth to Bruges in Belgium it used less than half a tank.
In official testing, it registered 72.4mpg on the combined cycle. As we’ve come to expect from such testing, that figure is pie in the sky, but impressively the DS 4 Crossback returned a little over 50mpg with ease – or high 50s with the wind behind you going downhill.
We also had to visit our local dealer – Yeomans Citroen in Fareham – for a recall notice related to the bonnet catch. Service was excellent as the car was sorted in about 10 minutes while I enjoyed access to WiFi and a truly fantastic coffee.
In summary then, the DS 4 Crossback is tough to recommend. It tries to play the premium game but doesn’t quite stack up – and it’s barely cheaper than its rivals to make up for it. The French carmaker is improving with every car it makes, but for now there are better alternatives.
Model: DS 4 Crossback BlueHDi 120 S&S
Engine: 1.6-litre diesel
Max speed: 120mph
0-60mph: 10.9 seconds
MPG: 72.4 (combined)
Highlight: I was pleased to hand back the keys because the DS 4 Crossback had become too frustrating!