Otherwise, the two derivatives are pretty similar and feel quite sporty if you’re minded to throw them around. And you might be. After all, bodyroll is well controlled and the car feels taut and quite responsive, with the whole experience complemented by a terrific six-speed manual gearbox.
Under the bonnet, the entry-level option is a 1. 2-litre PureTech 130bhp petrol powerplant but the most popular engine will be the most affordable 120bhp version of the 1. 6-litre BlueHDi diesel unit that all black pump-fuelled DS4 models share. This is reasonably responsive – and decently economical too, managing 74. 3mpg on the combined cycle and 100g/km of CO2. Plus there’s the option of an efficient EAT6 auto gearbox if you want it. If you want more power, there’s an auto-only BlueHDi 180 variant near the top of the range. Other engines include a mid-range diesel option, the BlueHDi 150 variant, and two THP petrol models offering either 165 or 210bhp.
When the DS4 was originally launched in 2011, its designers decided it was about time we had a five-door one. The stylists of rival models like SEAT’s Leon and particularly Alfa Romeo’s Giulietta will claim that this concept is nothing new, but cars like those aren’t quite as extreme as this one. The swept-back roofline is more distinctly sporty, yet at the same time, your eyes are drawn to the other influences: the sculpted wheelarches characteristic of a Crossover or small SUV. And the premium hatch feel of the chrome-finished waistline and the dark tinted windows.
The Crossback version sits 30mm higher than its standard-model counterpart, but you’ll otherwise find the other alterations relatively difficult to spot. Brownie points for you if you clocked the more adventurous variant’s silver roof rails and its gloss black finishing for the wheels, the front foglamps and the front bumper trim.
Both DS4 models adopt brand-specific styling at the front, where the vertical grille now proudly incorporates the ‘DS Wings’ brand logo and extends smoothly into headlights that feature ‘LED Vision’ Xenon technology on plusher variants like this one.
Time to take a seat up-front, where perhaps the most distinctive feature is the panoramic windscreen. Push back these roof panels and you’re given an almost unique 45-degree view upwards. Sticking with an individualistic theme, you can change both the instrument background colour and the style of the read-outs to suit your personal preference. The central speedo dial doubles as an information centre, offering speed, trip computer, audio and compass settings.
Anything this can’t tell you will probably be covered on the central fascia infotainment screen, this feature re-designed to suit this model’s more exalted DS brand status. It’s a 7-inch colour touch-sensitive display with standard navigation, plus the usual audio, Bluetooth ‘phone and trip computer options.
In the back there’s a dark, rather restricted feel not helped by limited legroom and the narrow, tinted side windows, while the pared-back roofline will leave headroom at a premium for taller folk.
Better, we think, to consider this car as the coupe Citroen is determined it ought to be, making comparisons with something like a Volkswagen Scirocco more valid than those with, say, a Volkswagen Golf. Viewed in that light, it’s all pretty practical in the back - and quite OK for two adults or three children, as long as the journey isn’t too long. Indeed, if you’re in that frame of mind, you might even be quite happy to forgive the fact that the rear windows don’t open.
You could see the thinking behind the original version of this car. It targeted family folk looking for something more interesting than a conventional Golf, Focus or Astra hatch. People who maybe liked the idea of a premium-badged model of this kind, but couldn’t quite stretch to one. And folk who in recent years had found themselves tempted by a whole range of different types of car: plush family hatchbacks, GTis, four-seat sports coupes and SUV-like Crossovers. In trying to meet their needs, what could be better, the early designers of this DS4 thought, than to offer up a model incorporating elements from all these categories? A crossbreed if you will.
In the case of the original Citroen version of the DS4, the crossbreeding in question went a touch too far. Trying to target the growing Crossover sector with this DS4 at a time when the same car was being promoted as a premium sporty hatch proved to be predictably difficult. Reinvented as a DS brand product though, this model is a much more credible proposition.
The letters stand for a ‘Different Spirit’: this car has exactly that. DS users who might perhaps be a touch disappointed that the brand doesn’t have a purpose-designed Qashqai-class compact Crossover in its range may well be satisfied by the DS4 Crossback model.
It’s no off-roading tool of course, even if you do maximise the benefits of its ‘Intelligent Traction Control’ system – but then no car in this class really is. Of more interest to most potential users will be the opportunities for individualisation, the media connectivity and the efficient PureTech petrol and BlueHDi diesel engines that can be specified beneath the bonnet.
They characterise this car’s more pragmatic approach to Crossover motoring. If that appeals to you, then you might well agree with DS that what we have is a lifestyle-orientated family hatchback worth getting cross about.