Let’s start off with a simple fact: the Citroen DS4 is NOT a pick-up truck. It’d be crap at taking rubble to the tip, it doesn’t lumber on leaf springs and people won’t think you’ve got a tattoo of a bear on your chest if you drive it. What it is though, is almost every other type of car in existence.
A hot hatch for starters. Quite a good one actually. Fitted with the same 200bhp petrol engine that nestles behind the recently-caught-trout-face of the Peugeot RCZ, the DS4 can parp and charge with all the passion of a violently farty bullock. It’ll rattle off the 0-62 run in less than 8 seconds and keep the needle nudging clockwise to 146mph.
Quite bafflingly, and despite its parpiness, the DS4 is also a crossover. The driving position is described by the vaguely pornographic term of ‘semi-command’ – meaning while you can’t see over other cars, you are just about high enough to implement a condescending stare. The ride height too, which is the car’s least convincing symptom of being a jack of all trades, makes the car look rufty tufty rather than lanky.
Yet, despite the wheel arch gaps, it’s also a surprisingly spikey coupe. The suspension is stiffer and sharper than the Arran-sweater wearing C4 on which it’s based, resulting in a little victory over the supposed effects of a high centre of gravity.
It changes direction well, grips like a leech on a fatty and possesses that rarest of qualities in a modern car – steering feel. The electro-hydraulic steering (instead of purely electric) and racy Michelin Pilot Sport tyres deserve thanks for this. Subtle rubbery granules pulsing through the palms… what a treat.
We’re not quite finished yet – the DS4 is a sensible hatchback too. When it goes on sale in Autumn 2011, the cheapest model will cost around £18,000 and be fitted with a 1.6HDi engine capable of 60mpg while emitting 122g/km of CO2. Spec the clicky flap EGS gearbox and the figures improve to 64mpg with 114g/km. And the 385 litre boot is actually slightly bigger than the supposedly more sensible C4’s. Ooooh.
Did we mention the interior has an authentic touch of luxury car about it? Well it has.
Of course, this melee of contradictory goodness has led to some less welcome quirks. For a starter, it’s the only five-door hatch we know where the rear windows don’t open. Citroen’s spin wizard quite nonchalantly explained that ‘it’s because the DS4 is a coupe and coupe’s don’t have opening rear windows do they?’. Err, it’s a hatchback and a lot of coupes do have hinged rear windows actually.
Secondly, the gap betwixt wheel and wheel arch looks daft. But that’s about it. The DS4 really has nailed the fast/fun/frugal/stylish/sporty/spacious/different/not too bloody weird combo incredibly well. Makes a Countryman look… well, like the first syllable of its name.
We started with a fact, so we’ll end with another: the Citroen DS4 is the least compromising compromise in motoring. And we like it a lot.