THE Citroen DS4 offers a stylish twist on the family hatch theme.
And in THP 155 guise it offers a tempting alternative to the more pragmatic diesel-engined versions.
With its winning blend of extrovert styling and a competitive petrol powerplant, could this be the optimum DS, maybe even the optimum Citroen?
The DS4 is offered with a choice of five efficient Euro 5 engines. The three petrol powerplants – the VTi 120, the THP 155 driven here and the THP 200 – were all co-developed with BMW.
Two diesel engines - HDi 110 and HDi 160 - are fitted with Citroen’s Diesel Particulate Filter System, which virtually eliminates particle emissions.
The 1.6-litre THP engine has a solid pedigree, too. It’s also the result of the link-up between Peugeot and BMW which saw the two marques pooling resources to produce a range of compact powerplants.
It’s a strong, flexible and refined performer, able to propel the DS4 to 60mph in 9 seconds and running onto a top speed of 133mph.
I’m still trying to figure out how any vaguely coupe-shaped car with such an unusual relationship between length and height can emerge as pretty as the Citroen DS4.
In traditional design terms, it shouldn’t work. It should look dumpy and ill-proportioned but the DS4 appears squat, aggressive and taut.
The interior isn’t quite so special, but don’t blame interior stylist Sean Johnson for that.
He has created some wonderful dash top finishes for the car which really set it apart, but Citroen’s UK importers have decided that British buyers aren’t prepared to pay for them and have given us more boring alternatives instead.
Still, there are plenty of other touches that can be appreciated. The fascia dials are quite cool and the way the windscreen takes a hefty bite out of the roofline is a very nice touch. The ‘bracelet’ leather seats which resemble a watch strap in their interlinking cushions are also very classy.
What’s not quite so clever is the fact that the boldly-shaped rear side windows don’t go down or hinge out.
In fusing radical design with eminently sensible engineering, Citroen has created an intriguing and attractive proposition with the DS4 THP 155.
t looks for all the world as if it has just driven off a motor show stand, but the mechanicals are all tried and tested stuff and your day to day outgoings while running one will be less than some superminis.
The only nagging doubt I have with the DS4 is that cars that are suddenly in vogue can just as suddenly find themselves out of favour.
For about five minutes back in 2003 the Chrysler Crossfire was a seriously hot ticket. Seems hard to believe now, doesn’t it?
I suspect the DS4 has enough about it to appeal as something more than a mere fashion statement, but time will be the final arbiter there.
In the meantime at least, Citroen should be applauded for resolutely refusing to follow the herd.