DS 4 premium hatchback unveiled to challenge Audi A3

1 year, 6 months ago - 4 February 2021, autocar
DS 4 premium hatchback unveiled to challenge Audi A3
Third model in brand’s line-up aims to bring French style and cutting-edge tech to premium hatch sector

The all-new DS 4 has been revealed, along with a bold plan for the French car to straddle two sectors to take on rivals both in the premium hatchback class as well as crossover SUVs. Trading on France’s heritage of haute couture as well as the latest technology, DS hopes the 4 will compete with cars as wide ranging as the BMW 1 Series and the Mercedes GLA.

The styling is key to this strategy. Bold double daylight running lights and matrix, LED headlights (standard on all trims) dominate the front end, while the side view features striking creases and up to 20-inch wheels (optional in the UK on the 225 engines) pushed to the extremities of the wheelbase. DS is keen to emphasise the coupe-style lines at the rear of the car, where the boot lid plunges to meet narrow tail lights. In a sign of DS wanting to boost the 4’s premium feel, metallic paint is standard.

Three models will be available - a DS 4, DS 4 Cross and DS 4 Premium Line. The Cross features roof bars and black plastic cladding, designed to make it look more like an SUV, while the Premium Line is the top spec and has different wheels, the exterior brightwork is replaced with matt black trim and it also gains Alcantara inside. The sporty one, then.

Technological highlights include level 2 semi-autonomous driving, Active Scan Suspension (borrowed from the DS 7 Crossback), and a detailed head-up display showing everything from full navigation instructions to what song is playing. The Active Scan Suspension scans the road ahead, between a distance of 5m and 25m, and alters the suspension making it firmer or softer depending on what’s needed. Night vision is also offered.

Available with both plug-in hybrid and conventional ICE engines, a total of five power units will be sold in the UK, all with eight-speed autos: three petrols, a diesel and a PHEV. DS is expecting the latter to make up a high proportion of sales (in the DS 7 Crossback, it’s over 35%), and it’s also the joint-most powerful on offer with 222bhp. Further performance data isn’t available yet.

Inside, the DS 4 has a ‘Digital Seamless Cockpit’ designed to reduce the driver’s mental load. There are two screens on the central dash - the lower DS Smart Touch controls the upper touchscreen, the latter of which runs a system called DS Iris that’s designed to mimic the functions on a mobile phone.

Although fan speed and temperature are still done via the touchscreen, the DS 4 does have some physical controls for the heating and ventilation: a series of buttons underneath the upper touchscreen control the defrost, defog, recycling, on/off and quick launch. The latter is a one-touch button to either heat or cool the car automatically, depending on the outside temperature.

Prices aren’t available yet, but DS has confirmed that it will be competitive in the sector. As such, expect a starting cost of roughly £25,000.

This PHEV version comes with a 12.4kWh battery, located under the boot floor, that’s good for an electric-only range of roughly 30 miles. Because of where the battery is located, the PHEV does lose out slightly on boot space - 390 litres vs 430 litres.

The DS 4 rides on a modified EMP2 platform: according to DS, 70% of this has been altered to accommodate the specific requirements of the 4. Particular attention has been paid to both noise isolation and reinforcement around the crash structure. There’s also new electric power steering on this car, while the platform has had to be altered to accommodate the DS’s 20-inch wheels. It is capable of carrying a pure electric model, but at this stage there are no confirmed plans for this.

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