It is hard to pigeonhole the handsome five-door DS4 that has coupe and crossover details
Citroen that sits pretty PHOTO: CITROEN

Citroen has been coming up with visually stunning and well-executed models of late and the DS4 is no exception.

The French brand, which shares the same parent group as Peugeot, says the coupe-crossover-like hatchback defies segmentation. But if you were forced to find a Peugeot equivalent to the DS4, it would have to be the 3008.

Yet, the Citroen is noticeably bolder in its lines, posher in its instrumentation and a tad more upmarket in its fit and finish.

The French penchant for high fashion is quite evident in this sexy five-door, which is slightly longer, wider and taller than a Volkswagen Golf.

Citroen is so determined to make the car coupe-like that it has employed door handles that are concealed at the end of its tapered rear windows. The design also means that the rear windows cannot be opened.

Its attention to stylistic detail extends to the way the tail-lamp clusters meld with a character line above the rear-wheel arches.

And if you look closely, you will find a minute lip at the front lower half of these arches - an aerodynamic device that reduces wind noise.

The rear view is a little SUV-like, with tailpipes incorporated into a chunky bumper, and a rather high access to the boot area.

From any angle, it is hard to find fault with the car. The same goes for the interior, with its flowing dash, crisp dials, sporty multi-function steering wheel and uniquely scalloped seats.

The DS4 is yet another reason why luxury car designers have to work much, much harder now to make their carriages stand out from the generalist class.

Despite its sporty profile and compact dimensions, the car has an adequately spacious cabin. Anyone below 1.7m should find headroom and legroom in the second row sufficient.

The Citroen's boot is wide and deep, despite the presence of a spare wheel.

When the car puts you in such a good mood even before you turn the ignition key, you know that the drive cannot go very far wrong.

For a tallish vehicle with a soft suspension, the DS4 feels surprisingly coherent around corners, even if the driving position does not lend itself entirely to sporty driving.

Thus, it is a car that will please occupants who value a well-cushioned ride, and at the same time not leave the enthusiastic driver completely cold.

The DS4 is powered by a 1.6-litre turbo which is now fairly generic in the PSA Peugeot-Citroen stable. But it is tuned to produce a bit more power.

Unfortunately, the power is transmitted to the front wheels by a clutch-actuated manual transmission - a gearbox only the Europeans love. Occupants have to live with the lurching movement each time the six-speeder moves up.

Not only that, the device dulls the torquey nature of the car, even if it is smoother than similar gearboxes used elsewhere.

If in haste, it is best to drive the car like a clutch-less manual, via shift paddles on the steering wheel.

Bear in mind, though, the car's over-zealous brakes, which are great for emergencies but sometimes a tad jerky in stop-start traffic.

Other traits of the DS4 more than make up for its driving idiosyncrasies. For one, it is a quiet operator. And it has a well-appointed and pampering interior.

You will find useful cubby-holes (even one that will accommodate a bottle of wine), well-padded seats with excellent headrests, Bluetooth phone connection, choice of illumination for the gauges and even a selection of chimes for the actions such as the turning signals.

When the day is not too hot, you can pull back the sun visors to enjoy the car's sweeping windscreen, which extends almost to where the front seats are.

If there is a feature that completes it, it would be a keyless access and ignition system.

But even as it is, it is a lovely car on the whole.

If you really dislike the transmission, you can opt for the 197bhp six-speed manual, which costs a bit more.

SPECS

CITROEN DS4

Price: $139,988 with COE

Engine: 1,598cc 16-valve inline-4 turbo

Transmission: Six-speed robotised manual with shift paddles

Power: 155bhp at 6,000rpm

Torque: 240Nm at 1,600rpm

0-100kmh: 9.9 seconds

Top speed: 214kmh

Fuel consumption: 6.5 litres/100km

Agent: Cycle & Carriage France