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First Drive

First Drive: DS 4 E-Tense

The story: Stellantis premium brand DS Automobiles is expanding to a fourth model line for the first time with the arrival of the DS4 hatch, in petrol, diesel and PHEV form.
Category:Lower medium
Key rival:Audi A3
On sale:Now

DS Automobiles’ expansion to a fourth model line brings a car that is aimed at the big-volume premium hatchback market dominated by the likes of the Audi A3 and the BMW 1-Series.

The DS 4’s powertrain options comprise three petrol engines, one diesel and a plug-in hybrid with a 35-mile EV-only range.

There are three distinct trim directions, starting with the regular model, followed by the sportier performance line, then the crossover-styled DS 4 Cross model that gets cladding and roof rails.

First Drive- November 2021- DS 4 E-Tense - Image 10DS claims the 4 could be its boldest design yet. It certainly has plenty of curves and lines, while the lighting signatures are distinctive, with the LED rear cluster featuring the diamond patterning anyone familiar with DS design will recognise.

That theme continues with the cabin, accessed by door handles that sit flush with the bodywork when not required. It’s a high-class cabin that puts most premium rivals’ to shame, complete with a hand-stitched steering wheel and an abundance of expensive materials. The only issue is that some of the metal switchgear is difficult to read when light is shining on it.

There’s also a clever Smart Touch pad making its DS debut, which allows the driver to set shortcuts for the systems they use most often. It covers navigation, climate, phone and media controls among others, and while it takes a little mental gymnastics to understand how it works, once you’re past that point It’s a clever and useful addition.

Rear space is a bit cramped, and doesn’t back up the figures that show the DS 4 is slightly longer than rival premium hatchbacks.

First Drive- November 2021- DS 4 E-Tense - Image 5The boot space drops from 430 litres in the petrol to 390 for the PHEV, which is still decent compared with other plug-in hatch rivals such as the A3 PHEV’s 280 litres.

On the road, the plug-in’s extra weight seems to settle down what it otherwise a rather floaty ride quality on the petrol model, and apart from steering that sometimes doesn’t feel particularly sensitive, it provides a thoroughly comfortable and pleasantly unremarkable drive.



First pictures: New DS 4



The verdict

Beautiful quality and good PHEV running costs should grab some attention for the low-key French premium brand’s latest and most competitive model.