By Patrick James on 2016-06-10 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
DS 4 Prestige
THE DS brand, if you have been living on a desert island, is the luxury version of Citroen.
Having said that, not that many people were aware of the split in the brands, so is that a problem?
The trick is now convincing the public that DS Automobiles is a separate upmarket entity, a bit like Toyota has done done with Lexus and Nissan with Infiniti.
Gone is the quirkiness associated more with Citroen to be replaced with a more mainstream, if still attractive styling.
It is taking on some serious players in the premium compact market with the new DS 4, notably German brands Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
The latest offering says the firm is one model with two distinct body styles. There is the hatchback driven here and a slightly larger Crossback, both with a new front end and even more advanced technology and refinement.
It also offers premium brand customers personalisation through the two-tone roof/body colour option, which is new to this segment.
There is no doubt it is more upmarket, with more distinct styling cues, high-end interior, state-of-the-art technology including Apple's CarPlay phone interface and a range of efficient engines, all of which have CO2 emissions within a range of 100-138g/km.
It looks good and while there is no doubt there is still a look of the C4 this somehow, to this observer, has combined with the handsome lines of its sister company Peugeot.
The front features a bold vertical grille, flanked by the signature‘DS Wings'. The DS badge is also prominent on the grille.
Despite being a five door, the rear door handles are cleverly concealed so the vehicle has the look of a coupe.
The headlamps combine three LED modules with a xenon directional module and new LED scrolling directional indicators.
The interior on the whole feels premium quality and features sturdy soft touch finish, panoramic windscreen and on this model door panels and seats upholstered in Nappa leather. The seats also feature a distinctive watchstrap design for a further piece of individuality.
Centrepiece on the dash is a seven-inch touchscreen which reduces the button count by 12 on the central console and is the brains behind the audio and connectivity.
It is also designed to include new Mirror Screen technology, a function that duplicates Android or iOS smartphone content to the in-car screen.
The leather trim and chrome insets on the steering wheel, gearstick and dashboard give an elegant feel while all controls and switchgear and feel robust.
All models are well equipped while the Prestige model tested here features sports suspension, 18-inch alloys and bigger brakes as well as standard six-speed automatic gearbox mated to the 180bhp two-litre diesel engine.
It's a powerful beast with hot-ish hatch performance powering the car to 60mph in 8.6 seconds. The 295lb/ft of torque means the power feels constantly on tap. Floor the throttle and it does push you back in your seat, particularly when switching to the Sport mode button, which sharpens up suspension and engine settings.
The DS 4 is also practical, as you would expect from a hatchback in this segment, with 385 litres of boot space which can be increased to 1,021 with the rear seats folded.
This range topper offers a comprehensive list of equipment and safety kit, including sat nav, DAB radio, dimming rear mirror, parking sensors and rear camera to name just a few.
The bonus is the clean and efficient diesel engine, with low CO2 emissions of 115g/km and excellent economy of a claimed 64.2mpg. In addition, and importantly in times of doctored emissions figures, the Blue HDi engine's SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) module together with the particulate filter tackles the problem of toxic NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions, burning off 90 per cent of the gas.
DS 4 Prestige BlueHDi 180
Mechanical: 180ps, 1,998cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 8.6 seconds
Combined MPG: 64.2
Insurance Group: 27
C02 emissions: 115g/km
Bik rating: 21%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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