Citroen's new face

The Citroen DS4 Crossback boasts instrument displays with cool blue lighting.
The Citroen DS4 Crossback boasts instrument displays with cool blue lighting. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
The Citroen DS4 Crossback boasts instrument displays with cool blue lighting.
The Citroen DS4 Crossback boasts instrument displays with cool blue lighting. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
The Citroen DS4 Crossback boasts instrument displays with cool blue lighting.
The Citroen DS4 Crossback boasts instrument displays with cool blue lighting. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The DS4 Crossback is designed with fine touches that make it stand out

Citroen is like that kooky kid in class who did not have many friends because he looked like Forrest Gump.

At a school reunion, you would be wondering what became of that kid when the music stops, the lights go dim and everyone turns to see this suave and strapping fellow worthy of appearing in GQ magazine sauntering in.

The new Citroens look really good. Especially the models in its newly spun-off DS luxury arm.

The DS4 Crossback is the first product in the line-up to appear here, and you would not believe it is from a French manufacturer long known for its eccentricities.

The Crossback will not look out of place parked next to a Porsche Macan, except for its slightly smaller stature.

  • SPECS / CITROEN DS4 CROSSBACK 1.6 BLUEHDI

    Price: $118,998 with COE

    Engine: 1,560cc 16-valve inline-4 turbodiesel

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual override

    Power: 120bhp at 3,500rpm

    Torque: 300Nm at 1,750rpm

    0-100kmh: 11.4 seconds

    Top speed: 193kmh

    Fuel consumption: 3.9 litres/100km

    Agent: Cycle & Carriage France

It is exquisitely designed, with interesting lines and details to make it stand out in an expanding sea of crossovers. Fine touches such as a matte black Crossback lettering, stylistic DS logo and a raised rear apron incorporating a pair of chrome pipes paint a unique canvas.

The car sits 30mm taller than the DS4 hatch. It is just enough to give it that crossover stance, without diluting its dynamism too much.

And the car is dynamic. Citroen has always paid plenty of attention to suspension work and the DS4 Crossback is no exception.

The car has independent front suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar, with a deformable crossmember rear configuration, also supported by hydraulic shocks.

The ride is well-cushioned but with a sportier edge than what most Citroen owners are probably used to. It is decent in city speed, but brilliant on the highway.

It certainly goes well with the car's torque-endowed turbodiesel engine. Although its 0-100kmh timing of 11.4 seconds is nothing to write home about, the car is easily the first away from the lights.

With 300Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, it is unbelievably effortless. Tap on the throttle and it literally pounces.

The beauty is that it does not feel or sound like a diesel at all. The level of refinement on this Euro 6 power plant is astounding. It matches the standards we have seen in Audi and Porsche turbodiesels.

Even while idling, there is no tell-tale sign. It is absolutely brilliant. And it has a good revving range too and thus does not come across restricted like most diesels.

In fact, the car feels like a beefy 2.5- or even 3-litre petrol.

And being a diesel, you can drive it as hard as you like and not worry about consumption. The car has a rated economy of 3.9 litres/100km, but even if it is twice that in real life, it is incredible for the performance you get.

The DS4 Crossback gets a proper six-speed autobox and not the jerky robotised manual seen previously. This makes the drive so much more breezy and fun.

Inside, the car is as impressively finished as its exterior. Soft, padded surfaces extend to wherever your hands and arms come into contact with.

A classy Engine Start button sits recessed on a centre panel that also houses the electronic parking brake lever.

The instrumentation has a cool blue lighting. And there is a compact but effective centre armrest that is adjustable for reach and height.

The only "plain" spot is the glovebox lid, which appears plasticky.

Otherwise, the cabin is a good place to be in. With bolstered seats (that have hip and thigh support), you can exploit the Crossback's punchy drivetrain to your heart's content. Rear occupants get a decent amount of space, but as with the previous DS4, the rear windows cannot be opened. This is the one compromise of a coupe- like rear section.

With the car's efficient dual-zone air-conditioning, there is no real need to open the windows anyway.

If Citroen keeps this up, it will be the new kid on the block to watch out for. Especially when its pricing is far lower than what you would associate with its newfound level of class.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2016, with the headline 'Citroen's new face'. Print Edition | Subscribe