Here in the ‘States, we don’t get any French cars. It’s a shame, really, as French cars are often quite plucky and fun. While almost all Peugeots are hateful things with dull driving dynamics, driven by people with more hair coming out of their ears than on their heads. But aside from that, the French actually make some pretty fun cars. The Renault Megane is a fun hatch and so is the Citroen DS3.
I can distinctly remember an old Top Gear episode, in which all three hosts had to pick hatchbacks to drive through Italy with. Two of the presenters, Clarkson and May, went for French hatches, the Citroen DS3 Racing and the Renault Clio Sport, respectively. So French hot hatches can be a ton of fun. But what about luxury? Can a French hatchback be as upscale as something from Audi of BMW? Well the new DS 4 intends to try.
The all new DS 4, Citroen’s new premium sister brand, is an upscale attempt to take on the Audi A3 Mercedes-Benz A Class and BMW 1 Series head one. Obviously, this is a competition in the European market, and won’t come to the North American market, but it’s fun to talk a look at how the French manage against the mighty Germans.
The new DS 4 is actually a good looking car and, admittedly, is more interesting looking than the rather milquetoast A3. While the Audi A3 is a quality item, it’s gotten a bit stale, in terms of design. This DS 4 is fresh and interesting looking. However, the same cannot be said about the interior. While the interior has been made to extremely high levels of quality for the segment (each door panel requires 8 hours to hand stitch all of the leather), it just doesn’t have the same luxurious and technological design of the Audi A3 and Mercedes A Class. While the BMW 1 Series doesn’t have the most attractive interior on the market, it’s still very well made with excellent ergonomics. So this DS 4 will have a hard time beating zee Germans.
However, the DS 4 will come with some fancy tech to try and combat the Audi A3, as it will have Apple’s latest CarPlay system and DS Connect, which is basically French OnStar. There are also some typically French quirks about the car, such as the extra tall windshield that extends back over the driver’s head, giving them an unobstructed view. This denies the ability for a panoramic moonroof, but it’s still kind of cool. And also, the back windows don’t roll down.
In terms of performance, the DS 4 has some suspension tweaks over the model it replaces, which are said to improve handling dynamics and comfort. The engines are typical, as a 1.2 liter three-cylinder engine, a 1.6 liter four-cylinder engine and a couple of similarly sized diesel engines are available. The DS 4 won’t light your hair on fire, in terms of performance, but it should be pretty fun to drive.
The DS 4 is a plucky little French hatchback that is probably quite pleasant to drive. However, it seems as if it will struggle when compared to some of the more upscale Germans, like the Audi A3. The DS 4 doesn’t have the performance or luxury to match the A3 and it’s pluckiness isn’t enough to beat out Audi’s quality. But it would definitely be fun to see some of these little Frenchies roaming US roads.