Good: crossover styling has some appeal
Not so good: dull interior and lack of special feeling
I'm trying to understand what the real purpose of the DS 4 Crossback is, as it remains a bit of a mystery. This is a more rugged looking version of the DS 4, clearly aimed at those who marketing people think will love (or at least love the idea of) the outdoors and low-risk adventure sports. DS doesn't have a proper SUV model to sell so, for the time being, this is it.
There is additional protective plastic cladding around the wheel arches, useful roof rails and an overall height increase of 33mm over the normal DS 4. It is only available in front-wheel drive, though, so you won't be rescuing Bear Grylls from a rocky outpost anytime soon.
Although there are some interesting lines throughout the design of the Crossback, it remains all but identical to the standard DS 4, even if there are some nice touches that do help it stand out from more conservatively styled rivals. Up front, the updated grille and headlight design help carry the upmarket image that DS is trying to portray. The front grille surround does look like DS designers have been looking at a few too many Audis though.
The rounded rear end and sloped roofline hint at an almost three-door coupe-like shape, helped by the rear door handles being integrated into the window frame. It's a nice touch but elongates the window frame to a point, which could catch unwitting passengers off-guard when opening. There is also the small matter of the fact that the windows in the rear doors can't be opened.
Other interesting features include the rear bumper and diffuser that has a chrome section with what appear to be twin exhaust tips, but on closer inspection actually aren't. Then there is what might well be the world's smallest rear window wiper. Yes, it looks neat, but when things do get wet and dirty it clears only a tiny part of the rear window - good thing it comes with parking sensors to aid the reversing camera.
It is possible to specify upmarket leather upholstery in the DS-signature 'watch strap' design like that seen in the larger DS 5. It is an expensive enough option, though, which may not pique many buyers' interest. The more conventional fabric interior is a little duller, but feels hard wearing, and the seats are supportive. Changeable instrument lighting isn't quite enough to distract from the swathes of hard, black plastic across the dashboard and centre console, however. In a regular Citroen model, this wouldn't be a real gripe, but the DS 4 Crossback is meant to be a more premium, upmarket car. It doesn't feel like it.
When it comes to engines, DS does have a reasonably good choice on offer. Driven here is the BlueHDi 120 diesel version. The official combined fuel consumption figure is 3.9 litres/100km and in reality that isn't too far from the real-word result we managed. On the move, the engine isn't too loud, while the gearing is more stacked towards economy than outright performance, which is no bad thing.
Even though the DS 4 Crossback is jacked up a little higher than the DS 4's, the ride could be better as it doesn't simply equate to more suspension travel. Aside from the firm ride the DS 4 Crossback does handle well, exhibiting only small amounts of body roll through corners. The power-assisted steering generally feels nicely weighted but could be a touch lighter at slower speeds or when parking.
While the DS 4 Crossback might not offer technical features such as all-wheel drive, the chunkier looks will appeal to some. Tick off some of the right boxes on the options list and it can also be turned into a more premium-feeling car, though that will come at a cost.