DS4 Crossback BlueHDi 120 (2015) review

Published:07 December 2015

  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

► DS4 Crossback is new DS4 crossover
► Raised ride height, softer suspension
► Standard kit includes sat-nav, Apple CarPlay

You’ve met the hatchback already – but the other piece of the revised DS4 puzzle is the new DS4 Crossback. Think of it like a Rover Streetwise for desperate Francophiles.

Crossback? Hunchback more like…

It is a touch funny-looking, isn’t it? Something about the combination of raised ride height, that plastic wheelarch cladding and the curving rear roofline. This was always the original DS4’s problem, of course, which is the whole point of the more conventional hatchback variant, sitting closer to the ground. But DS just can’t leave that crossover SUV crowd alone.

So what changes are made for the DS4 Crossback exactly?

Compared with the DS4 hatch, there’s a reduced selection of engines, no two-tone paint option and a single specification based on the regular DS4’s range-topping Prestige trim level. You also get an extra 40mm of ground clearance, the wheelarch spats and alloy wheels painted black as standard. These last match the gloss black door mirrors, rear spoiler and front bumper inserts, not to mention the big, bold CROSSBACK lettering on the boot lid. So classy. Did DS learn nothing from the Mini Paceman?

The appearance is supposed to instil a sense of adventure. Careful with your vertigo.

Read about the next big things from the perspective of Citroen's Cactus designer in the CAR+ archive.

Is the DS4 Crossback as terrible to drive as the original DS4?

Absolutely not. DS has this time taken the additional ride height as an opportunity to soften off the suspension, so even compared with the already improved DS4 hatchback, the Crossback is cushier. It is still quite a busy ride, particularly as a passenger, but it also doesn’t immediately flop onto its door handles at the first sight of a corner, so overall the compromise is a pretty tidy one.

There is more body roll than in the standard DS4, which is hardly a surprise, and as with that car the steering is strangely heavy at parking speeds, becoming a trifle too light when pressing on. Yet it’s consistent enough in its responses that you quickly come to trust it, perhaps even to like it. While the front end is pretty far from being overburdened with incisiveness, it is nonetheless easy to thread along a country road with as much alacrity as the test car’s 118bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel will allow, confident in the knowledge that the softened suspension will successfully soak up the mid-corner bumps that nibble ever so gently at the steering wheel while you progress.

This particular engine does rather deliver itself in lumps, a trait a little extra oomph would likely smooth away. Fortunately for something called upon so often as a result, the six-speed manual gearbox does at least feel robust, if also a touch notchy. The brakes are easy to modulate but their softly-softly setup requires greater ankle dexterity compared to that generally demanded by cars made in Germany. 

What’s the DS4 Crossback like on the inside?

As with the regular DS4 range, there’s now a seven-inch touchscreen, which is good news for the button-phobic. This isn’t as slick as the best rival offerings, and the buttons that remain rather let the premium pretentions down, but you do get Apple CarPlay, DAB radio, satnav, keyless go and dual-zone air conditioning as standard.

There’s also more space in the back than you’d credit from the outside – headroom in particular is better than the roofline would suggest – though the rising window line isn’t going to do the kids’ view out any favours, and as before the rear windows don’t open so there’s no emergency vomit ejection facility. Which may give you pause to think twice about the fancy ‘watchstrap’ leather seats, with all their nooks and creases…

Read how PSA boss Carlos Tavares plans to turn DS into a properly premium brand here.

Verdict

The improvements DS has made to the DS4 and DS4 Crossback are worthy of your appreciation – the ride quality, the infotainment and the general sense of purpose are all enhanced, and to truly tangible extent. But it remains a choice you make to be different, and mainstream premium rivals seem unlikely to loose very much sleep. 

Specs

Price when new: £23,495
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1560cc 16v four-cylinder turbodiesel, 118bhp @ 3500rpm, 221lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 10.9sec 0-62mph, 117mph, 72.4mpg, 103g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1465
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4284/1810/1535

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By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

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