Snakes on a plane
SUV obsession amongst UK car buyers, must at some point peak. Currently, every car manufacturer has launched or is launching a “Crossover” model to take a slice of the SUV look-a-like pie & the latest to arrive at CCV Towers in December was the DS4 Crossback. Previously badged as the Citroen DS range, the DS brand separated from Citroen in 2015 & thus far, the DS3 has been the only real success story from the DS stable. The DS4 was designed to be a cross between a small SUV & a coupe & the DS5 falls somewhere between a hatchback & saloon, with neither really being one thing nor another. Cue then the latest DS model the DS4 Crossback, which is at least an unashamed attempt by DS to target the growing Crossover market populated by the likes of the Mazda CX3, Infiniti QX30, Mercedes Benz GLA & the new Toyota C-HR.
From the outside the Crossback does at least appear to be a rugged SUV even though it is not available with 4WD.The blend of hatchback with coupe, plus SUV styling is a little confusing. The ride height is raised by 30mm, while roof rails have been added, plus the front & rear bumpers tweaked to make it stand out from the standard DS4. With these goodies, it carries a £1,000 premium over the standard hatchback.
Climb inside & the cabin is a typically quirky French offering. The front seats are set quite high & with the DS4’s unusually tall windscreen the driver feels like they are in an SUV. Front seat passengers get plenty of head & legroom, but it’s a different story in the rear. The seats are awkward to access because the doors are very small, so getting in and out is difficult, even worse than in the Jaguar XE. Plus, the rear windows don’t open. Storage inside the cabin is poor too, with a tiny glovebox, a cup holder in the centre binnacle & two smallish door pockets all that you get. The boot is a good size, but there is a very high loading lip to negotiate, which isn’t great & the rear three seats do not fold flat either.
My test model came with an auto gearbox, which although makes driving the DS4 easy, failed to find favour with me as it always seemed to be in the gear lower than the one I actually wanted. The alloy wheels & tyres fitted to my model also made for a hard ride as the suspension struggled to cope with the tiny rims & you really can feel every bump. On the motorway things are markedly better, with the smoother motorway tarmac allowing the Crossback to cruise quietly at 70 mph. Cruise control can be selected from the steering wheel buttons & is easily adjusted up or down with these controls.
The dash board is straightforward to use & the touchscreen fitted to all models means that it is relatively uncluttered. Some plastics are well made & feel top notch, but some fittings are just the opposite, cheap & tacky, not something you’d expect from a premium product which is what Citroen are trying to achieve with the DS brand. The touchscreen itself features useful smartphone connectivity, including Apple Carplay. I found the SatNav straightforward to use as well & one of the better ones to look at too. The Crossback also features adjustable sun visors which can be pushed further back than normal, increasing the windscreen size creating more light in the black finished cabin, which is no bad thing. The rear windscreen is small, hindering reversing. Thank fully though, the Crossback is fitted with a reversing camera & tear parking sensors make parking the DS4 pretty straightforward.
A week in the Crossback resulted in me using about 90% of the fuel on board & running up 400 miles or so at an average fuel economy of 39.8mpg, way lower than the combined claimed figure of 72.4mpg. CO2 emissions are extremely good, just 102g/km, making the company car user sit up & take notice.
In discussion with Citroen, they told me that the Crossback was designed as a coupe with 4 doors, which may be why there’s no room in the back nor an easy way in & out of the rear. It seemed to me that the designers of this DS model tried & failed to do something different with the Crossback, because it has ended up a half & half football scarf. One half coupe & one half Crossover.
If you like a car because it’s different & not practical the DS4 Crossback might be for you. My advice is to go for the Peugeot 308 or even the brilliant new Peugeot 3008, at least until Citroen launches their new versions tocopmpete with sister brand Peugeot, in the not too distant future.
As mad as bag of snakes 2/5