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CAR OF THE WEEK: At last, DS brand is nearly at its destination

April 7th, 2023 10:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

CAR OF THE WEEK: At last, DS brand is nearly at its destination Image

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I REMEMBER when I wrote a first drive review of the DS 4 at its launch last September, I reserved judgement as to whether DS Automobiles are ‘nearly there yet’ as the premium-luxury brand they aspire to be. A proper review period has given me the chance to evaluate that further.

The DS 4 certainly has impact in very distinctive looks. If you didn’t know that it shares its underpinnings with a number of other brand models in the space, you’d not equate it with them. 

Bold diamond shapes and crossing diagonal character lines are a key part of the styling detail, offering a crisp and crystalline edginess that turns heads whether the car is parked or passing on a motorway. 


The grille and headlights treatment could have been in your face brash if they had got things wrong, but they didn’t. The result is perceived elegance and strength, attributes that also flow along the profile of the car and are still there in the complex but nevertheless coherent aspect from the rear. The whole effect suggests a much larger car than what the DS 4 actually is.

This detailing is continued inside, with soft-surface flock on the review car’s dashboard, centre console and door panels theming well with the chunky sculpting in the seat cushions. The diamond theme glitters along the switch-panel under the central infotainment hub. The effect also abounds around the transmission selector, and the window switchgear on the doors. 

All this could have looked nouveau-riche tacky if even slightly overdone, but they held back just enough. The DS motif on the steering wheel is a reminder of how a brand logo designer can sometimes get their art absolutely right.

One advantage in the DS brand being related to Citroen, Peugeot, and Opel under the Stellantis Group umbrella in that the switchgear, on the steering wheel in particular as well as the neat flick-switch for the automatic transmission, is all very familiar. 


There’s a small flaw, though, in the centre and window switches, due to that previously mentioned glitter work — the embossed pictograms can disappear in the shine. 

Still, if I owned the car, I’d learn very quickly and wouldn’t need to see the indications. There’s a quirky touchscreen just ahead of the transmission shifter which is supposed to recognise gestures drawn on it, but I never got around to training myself to use it.

Those chunky patterns in the seats are more than just smart-looking, they feel as good as they present. And if I do once more have that initial difficulty in getting in — I’m resigned to it being my problem that I’m lanky and no longer so supple — it’s all worth it once ensconced. 

A good driving position is easily found, and though the rear window is a little small, overall around-the-car visibility is good. For the parts outside you can’t see, the surround-cameras system makes tight-space manoeuvring quite painless and dings-free. A very full suite of driver-aid technology comes as standard with the DS 4.

The powertrain offerings are almost something to suit everybody — petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid — and the missing all-electric version will complete the options later this year. My review car came with the PHEV system, outputting a hefty 225hp that added zest to the performance whenever called for. 

The EV range of the full battery is said to be up to 62km, a distance very dependent on where and how you drive. In ordinary hybrid mode without that, the car came back with a creditable 5.6L/100km on a typical country into city commute. That would be significantly better with a full PHEV battery to start each day.

The ride is very comfortable, but firms up nicely in more robust driving if you have a stretch of good clear twists and turns on which to enjoy it. The car is quiet even under enthusiastic pushing.

So have I finally made a judgement on whether DS is just a tarted up Citroen or a deserved premium contender? 

At least in this model, the answer to ‘are we there yet?’ is ‘we are’. As further DS cars arrive with a similar attention to development and detail, the overall brand should soon get to its destination too.

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