DS 4 Crossback

BlueHDi 120

DS 4 Crossback, front, static
DS 4 Crossback, rear action
DS 4 Crossback, front action
DS 4 Crossback, rear action
DS 4 Crossback, side
DS 4 Crossback, rear
DS 4 Crossback, front, action
DS 4 Crossback, rear, static
DS 4 Crossback, rear, action
DS 4 Crossback, front
DS 4 Crossback, dashboard
DS 4 Crossback, front seats

WE just love our cars to stand out. Years ago there were go-faster stripes, racing door mirrors and rear spoilers.

Well, we still have the spoilers, though most are more subtle now. But with SUVs dominating the motoring scene the options to stylise your family runabout are almost endless.

DS - or Citroen, as it once was - has taken style-tweaking to a new level with the DS 4 Crossback, a sort of crossover hatch with raised ground clearance, wheel arch spats and roof rails but without the benefit of four wheel drive.

Shiny black alloy wheels and matching external mirrors add the finishing touches.

To be honest, so few owners want all-paw adhesion in a mid-sized hatchback that it wouldn't have been an economical proposition to manufacture it as an option.

And the big bonus is that in BlueHDi 120 form as tried here, it is one of the most frugal five-seater saloons around.

With a CO2 level of just 103g/km it attracts low tax and a commendable official fuel consumption of 72.4mpg. Even fairly heavy footed drivers will get well over 50mpg in everyday running. The fuel tank is a generous 60litre (13.2 gallons) allowing a range of more than 600 miles between filling up.

Power comes from the shared Peugeot Citroen 1.6-litre, 118bhp turbo diesel which offers reasonably brisk acceleration - 0 to 60mph in 10.9 seconds - alongside strong high gear performance. A bit rattly at idle, the unit soon quietens down and at cruising speed there's just a distant hum.

One of the benefits of raising the body height by 40mm is an improvement in ride, partly due to softer springs. Sure, there's a tad more body roll than the normal DS 4, but this is more than offset by greater comfort over patchy surfaces.

The cabin is smart and stylish with a distinct premium feel. A seven-inch touch screen dispenses with many of the buttons and switches and the fascia abounds in quality, tactile plastic mouldings. Standard kit includes Apple CarPlay, DAB radio, keyless ignition, reversing camera and sat-nav. Dual-zone air con is also included in the £23,595 price tag.

Visibility for front seat passengers is good, especially so if you take advantage of the moveable sun visors which slide back to deepen the front screen.

Those in the back may find their environment more claustrophobic due to the rising waistline of the car and its sloping roof. Reversing can be tricky as you peer through the shallow rear window.

Another penalty arising from the DS's rakish shape is the somewhat restricted boot space. The cargo area beneath the parcel shelf will accommodate 385 litres of luggage which is less than rivals such as the Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308.

The six-speed manual gearbox is precise and quick to use and the clutch is pleasantly light.

FAST FACTS

DS 4 Crossback BlueHDi 120

Price: £23,595

Mechanical: 118bhp, 1,560cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 117mph

0-62mph: 10.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 72.4

Insurance Group: 24

C02 emissions: 103g/km

Bik rating: 18%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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