Read Caroline’s DS 4 review for everything you need to know about buying the new premium hatchback from DS.

DS Automobiles has made a comeback to Ireland now under the stewardship of Irish multi-brand motoring distributor Gowan Auto. The first ever DS Store is now open in Dublin giving the brand a home in Ireland that was missing during previous attempts to gain traction in the Irish market.

The range of DS cars and SUVs has also expanded in the right direction. Already the brand has brought new crossovers and SUVs to market like the quirky DS 3 compact crossover and the large DS 7 SUV, as well as a new flagship saloon – the DS 9. Their range is also notable for all-electric models like the DS 3 E-TENSE and plug-in hybrid technology.

Now part of the Stellantis Group, DS is positioned as a French premium brand to rival the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Tough competition. What we’ve seen so far from the brand has been good but has not always fully lived up to those premium aspirations.

But now DS looks set to be launching their most premium car yet – the new DS 4. Priced from €37,295, the DS 4 takes on other high-end hatchbacks like the Audi A3 Sportback and the BMW 1 Series.

But can it deliver? It was time to take the new DS 4 for a drive to find out!

What’s so special about the DS 4?

The DS 4 is a glorious hatchback with some serious style and road presence. At the front, there is a large grille bearing the DS logo flanked by slim LED headlights and dramatic daytime running lights. Some versions like the top of the range Performance Line+ and Rivoli get more advanced matrix LED headlights, as well as scrolling rear indicators.

It does stand out well against competitors like the Audi A3 and the BMW 1 Series. Maybe it’s the slightly more flamboyant French style – cue the jewel-like rear LED lights and flush chrome door handles that pop out to meet you as you approach the car. There’s a lot of detail in this car, so it does continue to surprise as you get to spend more time with it.

There are a range of paint colours to choose from with some of the best being Velvet Red Metallic, Lacquered Grey and Pearl White. For Ireland there is a great selection of trim levels. They vary in equipment, alloy wheel designs, interior trims and upholstery, with very French names like Bastille, Trocadero and Rivoli. Performance and Performance Line+ are the sportiest looking of the bunch with exterior trim in black and black alloy wheels.

All but the very entry model get 19-inch alloy wheels, with the option of 20-inch for maximum impact.

The DS 4 is also available with a fine complement of engines including high-powered petrols and plug-in hybrids.

But it’s inside where the DS 4 has moved up a gear and now feels like a new breed of premium car from the French brand.

The new DS 4 on test for Changing Lanes
The new DS 4 on test for Changing Lanes

Inside the DS 4

A premium car should instantly make you feel safe and comfortable behind the wheel. The DS 4 does that and feels more luxurious inside than anything we’ve seen from the brand to date.

There is an avant-garde finish to the interior of the DS 4 with a generous use of Alcantara across the dashboard, doors and seats of Performance Line models. This gives the cabin a plush and high-end feel that moves it above more mainstream hatchbacks. There’s no scratchy hard plastics visible and the fit and finish feels worthy of the car’s positioning.

The design is also full of interesting details like the subtle air vents and discrete buttons for operating the windows and the climate control. It’s certainly different but this layout is not immediately logical and does require a little bit of getting used to.

There is a small digital instrument cluster for the driver and Trocadero models and above also get a useful head-up display. In the centre of the dash there is a slim touchscreen with DS-specific graphics and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Cloth seats come as standard but it’s worth going up to Performance Line for the gorgeous Alcantara version with Performance Line branding.

The interior of the new DS 4
The interior of the new DS 4

The DS 4 offers seating for five and offers adequate space in the back for a compact hatchback. It’s not quite as roomy as the DS 7 for example, but adults will easily be able to get comfortable with just enough headroom and legroom.

The boot is at its biggest in petrol and diesel models offering 430 litres of space. That’s good for this class of vehicle. But go for a plug-in hybrid and it dips to about 390 litres, which is a bit more average – but not completely useless either!

Driving the DS 4

DS Automobiles Ireland is selling the DS 4 with a range of engines from launch. The range kicks off with the 1.2-litre Puretech turbo petrol engine with a modest 130hp. However, go up to Performance Line and the range expands to offer a 1.5-litre diesel with 130hp or a 1.6-litre plug-in hybrid with 225hp.

Opt for Performance Line+ or Rivoli and you’ll find what is my pick of the bunch – the 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine with 180hp.

But no matter which version you go for, all come with an 8-speed automatic gearbox.

The DS 4 is a good-looking car with a classy interior to match
The DS 4 is a good-looking car with a classy interior to match

Buyers expect more power from a premium car and the DS 4 Puretech 180 offers all that. It’s a four cylinder engine so is naturally more refined than the 1.2-litre three cylinder option in the DS 4. It’s feels more smooth and powerful on the road and it sounds better.

The DS 4 Puretech 180 can still post some very impressive fuel figures as the engine is never under huge effort to deliver power across motorway, town and country driving. Over a week of driving I averaged about 6.3 litres per 100 kilometres.

On the road, the DS 4 offers impressive levels of grip and offers a mature and comfortable drive. The refinement is excellent helped by acoustic glazing in the windscreen (some models have it in the front windows too). So it offers a very high-end driving experience behind the wheel.

Hybrid models come with the DS Scan Suspension, which uses a camera to monitor the road ahead and then adjusts the suspension settings based on that for a smoother and more comfortable drive.

But even on standard suspension the DS covers the tarmac like a true professional without any annoying firmness. Yet it’s a controlled drive, offering plenty of grip and stability through corners.

Rear seating in the DS 4
Rear seating in the DS 4

Did you like it?

The DS 4 is the DS brand’s most convincing model to date.

The DS 4 is a good alternative now to premium hatchbacks like the 1 Series, A Class and A3 – with a refreshing French twist. The interior technology may not be as glamourous as the A-Class or as user-friendly as the 1 Series, but it is upmarket and distinct enough to be considered in the same company.

It’s the driving experience that really helps the DS 4 to stand out, offering excellent comfort, power and refinement from behind the wheel in the 1.6 petrol model tested for Changing Lanes.

Like rivals, the DS 4 carries a premium for style and quality, but this time DS delivers.

Model tested: DS 4 Performance Line+ 1.6 Puretech 180
1.6-litre turbo petrol
Power: 181hp
Torque: 250Nm
Top speed: 230 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 8 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€270 per year

The DS 4 is on sale now
The DS 4 is on sale now


Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year