- ds, a premium brand from psa that is now part of stellantis along with fiat chrysler automobiles' brands, has just launched an attractive new compact hatchback called the ds 4.
- the car will be out later in 2021 in europe and china, but we'd love to see it here.
- ds will be developing premium models jointly with alfa romeo and lancia, with the first models coming by 2024, automotive news reported this week. and maybe we'll have more luck getting those.
everywhere outside of france, driving a french car is a clear sign of individualism, an appreciation of the unusual and of elevated aesthetics. and since ds has been spun off citroën as a premium brand, in much the way genesis was derived from hyundai or polestar from volvo, the brand has offered a plethora of interesting, challenging, and beautiful cars. the latest is the ds 4, unveiled this week and slated for a launch in europe and china later this year. it redefines its segment's boundaries in several ways.
its dimensions—173.2 inches long, 72.0 inches wide, and 57.9 inches tall—mean the ds 4 fits neatly into europe's compact segment, similar to the audi a3 and the mercedes-benz a-class. but the ds 4 features a rear hatch. with sharply drawn lines, slim headlights and taillights, the ds 4 looks very modern, sporty and geometric. the roofline is coupelike, and there are three different model lines: a discreetly elegant base model, a sporty performance line, and a model called cross that plays with color contrasts but is not actually an suv, in much the way that the performance line is cosmetic only.
this does not sound spectacular, but if you take a closer look at the car, you will notice an aggressive boldness that cannot be found in most u.s.-market models that have had their character blown away in endless "car clinics." the drag coefficient is a satisfactory 0.30, and there is a special wheel/tire combination designed specifically to minimize tire and air resistance.
the interior is characterized by modern shapes and a stunning opulence that has become the signature of the ds models. crisp lines, crystal and glass elements, and sophisticated materials make for an appearance that is simply unmatched in this class. only the mercedes-benz models offer similarly rich materials, albeit in a far more conservative application. the french love for detail can be found in every corner of the ds 4. for example, the performance line is fitted with with decor made of forged carbon fiber, while the more luxurious models use ash wood. when the ds 4 launches, there will even be a version with surfaces inspired by fish skin.
on the center console, there is a touch-sensitive surface to enter data; there is an advanced voice recognition system, and the focal-branded stereo system has an output of 690 watts. the electronic comfort and assistance systems altogether go far beyond class standards: customers can order a night vision system that can recognize pedestrians at a distance of over 200 yards, and the new head-up display appears to project information right onto the street. the matrix light system offers luxury class functionality, and the daytime running lights are created by full 98 light-emitting diodes, creating a stunning light signature. and the suspension can adjust to information provided by a camera scanning the road surface; this technology has heretofore been the hallmark of luxury cars.
under the hood, there are three gasoline engines with 130, 180, and 225 horsepower. other choices are a torquey 130-hp turbo-diesel and a plug-in hybrid called e-tense with total system output of 225 horsepower. all models are fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission, controlled by what ds calls e-toggle.
within the context of the stellantis group, ds is well positioned to hold its own against the offers from citroën, peugeot, opel, alfa romeo, and lancia, not to mention the u.s. brands. however, any aspirations to compete in the u.s. market will now have to take a back seat. ds chief designer thierry métroz tells us that a u.s. launch of the brand, something he hinted at earlier, is not a priority and not a consideration for the ds 4.
and that's a pity. because with its futuristic design, bespoke materials and attention to detail, it is a triumph of individualism in a sea of increasingly bland competitors.