It seems that my recent article on Citroën’s anti-retro retro-inspired car, the DS3, provoked two kinds of reactions: admiration and understanding, but also rejection and some even thought Citroën was simply being cynical in its use of the much storied DS moniker. What was hinted at with the DS3 becomes much more evident in the DS4′s case. With it Citroën may well have stumbled on a modern classic, not to mention a way forward for retro-inspired cars.
Like it was explained in the article and subsequent comments, Citroën is calling this line an anti-retro car. Citroën’s suits readily admit that the Mini and Fiat’s 500 were their inspiration (and these are shameless retro cars). Citroën didn’t want to repeat the retro-car formula though. As evidenced by Chrysler’s PT Cruiser and VW’s New Beetle, and in a couple of years by the American pony car trio, this direction can lead to a dead-end. Where do you go after a successful and modern re-do of a classic design? Citroën has been smarter than that. It claims to be inspired by the DS’s spirit, not its sheetmetal. So the DS line should be beautiful, innovative and a pleasure to drive.
On the first try, the DS3 did that. It’s beautiful in a thoroughly modern way. It has all the latest technology and gadgetry. But it is certainly not a revolution. Enter the DS4. This one could well be sparking a revolution of sorts. The DS3 can be classified as a cross between a sporting compact and a luxurious but small hatchback. In this way, it has been able to please those who already love the Mini and 500. The DS4 goes further. It is bolder and more original. Revolutionary? Maybe, maybe not, but it is surely pushing forward hard. It is lighting the way other retro-inspired cars may follow in the future if they are to get out of the darkness of extinction.
The DS4 is a mix between a sports hatch and a very small CUV. Its suspension gives it a taller stance. Its very raked windshield (45 degrees), however gives it an air of a sports coupe. This is reinforced by the big (19 inch) rims and tasteful back lights. Unlike a coupe, the DS4 has 4 doors, but it hides those back-door handles, taking the sports coupe idea further.
Designer Olivier Vincent, the project’s creation manager, claimed to Quatro Rodas (from which all numbers in this post have been gleamed): “We wanted to make a more agile car, more urban and unique. With this rupture, we conceived a comfortable, sporting car with a higher seating position.” Olivier Daillance, who was responsible for the choice of interior materials, also chimed in, “Our proposal was to create a model with a touch of typical French sophistication, using elements of haute couture”. Coincidentally or not, M. Daillance previously worked at Louis Vuitton and many of the couture touches in the car were his ideas.
The sophistication is real. The car aims to awake all senses, touch, hearing, smell, sight. The leather in the car was treated to smell like Cohiba cigars, you know, the real Cuban ones, reputedly rolled on mulata’s legs. And who get their undeniably delicious smell, reputedly, from the mix of the mulatas hands, thighs and sweat. Ahem! Moving on…In its efforts to revive the senses, Citroën uses real aluminum to adorn the steering wheel. There is a choice of four chimes for lights on or seat belt alerts. The instruments in the cluster have chrome rings. The aluminum and wood used for finishing are grained (none of the slick, glossy stuff). The console is covered in a rubbery material. According to trim level (Chic, So Chic and Sport Chic – oui monsieur, as I said before, c’est vrai! Gotta love those names, so French!), the seats can give you a massage.
Based on the common C4, the DS4 hides its heritage very well. If in front the pilot and his friend travel in greater comfort, out in the back the passengers are second class. This car is narrower there than the original and shorter, too. In a slight mishap, and as a concession to the design, the back windows don’t open. The trunk only holds 370L.
The DS4 is 4.27m long, 1.81m wide and 1.53m tall. It is compact and quite muscular looking. Outside, there are LED running lights, aluminum finishing and the dual exhaust (functional) is built into the back bumper. The suspension is a little tighter than on the original C4, which will surely please hardcore enthusiasts.
The engines on offer will all be based on the 1.6 Turbo THP (reviewed here and here). All gasoline (it appears Citroën doesn’t believe in diesel driving pleasure) and tuned for different outputs. The basic one produces 118hp, the mid-level one put out an enticing 156hp and the top is tuned to deliver 200 hp (this engine was seen here)! Not bad for a 1.6. Not bad at all. The DS4 will share this top engine with Peugeot’s RCZ (don’t know this car? Go look it up, it’s worth it).
This car will be on offer in Europe in June. In Brazil it will arrive by the end of the year or the beginning of the next. It will come together with the DS3 and the yet to be unveiled DS5. Like mentioned in the previous article, plans for Brazil are that, like in France, this car will be shown in exclusive show rooms in the more monied parts of towns. In them, similarly to the car, Citroën aims to delight customers by engaging all their senses. Apparently, you won’t find them at regular dealers.
All in all it’s a solid effort from Citroën. If the pricing isn’t too crazy (in Europe the top-of the-line could be yours for $31,900 euros), it could even become a pleasant sight on Brazilian streets. Well-resolved, sophisticated external design, posh and comfortable inside, the DS4 takes the retro car idea to the future. I for one hope it’s a bright future.