IT’S not easy to put your finger on when the changes started at Citroen. But changes there most definitely have been.
The current crop of cars are certainly more stylish and eye catching than ever before, and that’s particularly true of the sporty DS models.
And because the DS is one of those cars which offers a variety of optional extras it’s easy to make it even more distinctive.
The DS4 I treid, for example, was finished in white pearlescent paint, a colour you pay extra for but one which makes the car stand out. Chrome folding door mirrors added to the overall appearance.
But what really set it apart was its interior, with its white and black leather upholstery and black headlining.
And the optional extra bonuses were features which couldn’t be seen but could certainly be felt, like heated seats – a real luxury on cold days – and a gentle electric massage system in the seat backs to ensure you arrived fresh even after a long journey.
I had driven a DS4 before but that was the diesel, and I was anxious to try out the more lively 200bhp petrol version.
With a top speed of 146 miles per hour and a very respectable 0-62mph acceleration time of 8.5 seconds the DS4 DSport THP 200 was definitely no slouch, which is not surprising when you realise it uses the same engine as the MINI Cooper S.
And while it’s not as quick as the Cooper S it certainly follows in its footsteps – or should that be tyre tracks – when it comes to a cracking sporting drive.
With a sharp, six-speed manual gearbox it delivers crisp acceleration and almost diesel-like flexibility. Combine that with a firm but compliant sports suspension set-up and you have a car which brings everyday motoring to life.
And the best thing about the DS4 is that you get all that performance with the bonus of a more spacious interior than the MINI and a sensible sized boot, which will cope with the needs of the whole family.
An electric parking brake frees up some space between the two front seats and the car has a hill holder clutch system, to stop you rolling back on steep hills.
Alloy foot pedals add to the sporting interior of the DS4 and you can set the on-board computer to give you a digital readout from a window set in the middle of the conventional speedometer, a feature I often took advantage of because the pointer on the conventional speedo wasn’t always obvious at a quick glance.
On the road the car is impressively quiet thanks to soundproofing which has been engineered to match the acoustics found in larger executive saloon models and includes doors fitted with enhanced sealing barriers, a windscreen laminated with damping film, and the whole cabin structure sprayed with a special soundproofing solution.
And with its five star Euro NCAP overall rating the DS4 is certainly a car to put on your wish list.
Citroen DS4 DSport THP
Mechanical: 200bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 146mph
0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Combined mpg: 44.1
Insurance group: 31
CO2 emissions: 149g/km
BIK rating: 20%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles