DS Automobiles DS 4 — True Innovation with Version 2?

In February 2021, DS Automobiles introduced the second generation of its compact crossover contender, the DS 4. DS Automobiles (a distinct brand from Citroën within Stellantis) hopes it will spurn sales particularly in China and in Europe.

The design, while crisp, has the trendy angular bulges and creases front, side and back that are pretty much found on any Asian SUV we see here in the North America. (And no, we are not going the see this or any other new DS in Canada or USA in the foreseeable future.) At a glance, over-looking the DS badge, one could easily mistake it for a Lexus, Hyundai, Nissan or Mazda.

The front is characterized by a massive Lexus/Hyundai-like grill with “Z” running light signature (98 LEDs in total). Above are slim projector headlamps featuring the DS MATRIX LED VISION system that combines matrix and directional lighting.

At the rear, the roof stretches down very low on a steeply sloping rear window with an enamel screen print, and a DS Automobiles badge that helps, at least in that area, to give it some distinguishing style. A new generation rear-light signature features a laser embossed scale effect.

Inspired by the DS AERO SPORT LOUNGE concept the DS 4 has mid-size SUV proportions with a width of 1.83 metres, length of 4.40 metres and a height of 1.47 metres. and a 20” wheel size option to help give it an imposing presence. (The bulk of the range sits on 19-inch wheels.)

There are 430 litres of trunk space with hands-free opening and a powered tailgate.


The DS 4 comes in a few varieties.

DS 4 CROSS plays on the visual perception of an SUV with a treatment to the lower part of the bumper emphasized by special protection and matt black paint. The gloss black upper parts to the side window frames, gloss black grille, alloy wheels, roof bars and a roof the same colour as the bodywork finishes it off. Performance-wise as an exclusive option, the DS 4 CROSS gets and Advanced Traction Control for improved grip with sand, snow and mud modes, and Hill Assist Descent Control.

DS 4 PERFORMANCE LINE has an exterior trimmed in black with a Black Pack (DS WINGS, strip between the rear lights, grille and side window frames) and distinctive black alloy wheels as well as an exclusive interior.


Various power options are also offered.

Based on a significant evolution of the EMP2 platform with 70% new or exclusive parts, DS 4 is offering plug-in hybrid technology from its launch (225 horsepower and more than 50 kilometres of range in zero emissions mode on the combined WLTP cycle).

A turbocharged 180 horsepower 4-cylinder engine is paired with a 110 horsepower electric motor and an e-EAT8 gearbox, for a combined 225 horsepower. It’s powered by more compact and larger capacity battery cells giving a range of more than 50 kilometers in zero emissions mode (WLTP combined cycle).

PureTech 130, 180 and 225 horsepower petrol versions and a 130 horsepower Diesel BlueHDi version will also be offered. All these models will only get the 8-speed automatic gearbox.

Interior comfort

Inside there appears to be greater distinction from the Asian competition;

  • DS 4 has a digital interior, minimalist to the extent that the designers have tried to integrate intuitive controls as as much for function as form with the aim of create an exceptional degree of calm within DS 4.
  • This includes the combination of DS SMART TOUCH, a 5-inch touchscreen linked to the DS IRIS SYSTEM, and DS E-TOGGLE, a compact control for the automatic gearbox, positioned on the center console. This is a screen you can use with your fingertips making a gesture towards one of the pre-entered favourite functions. The screen also identifies normal movements such as zooming in, zooming out and has handwriting recognition.
  • The two-tone treatment for the window controls has been designed to improve cognitive recognition.
  • It also boasts DS AIR: an invisible air-vent innovative ventilation system with compact central vents high up and fitted with blades that can’t be seen. A blast of air separated by a cone ensures it can be directed perfectly both high and low. The whole system works like classic ventilation with optimum efficiency. With its vertical compactness, it has an understated and integrated appearance which has enabled the design of the dashboard to be structured in a way that’s free flowing and uncluttered.
  • In a two-tone interior, the seats with high density foam to achieve a level of exceptional comfort, covered in Pebble Grey grain leather are joined by clear elements, smooth to the touch for comfort zones, supported by grain leather and Clous de Paris guilloche. On the upper part where the interactive zone is, the trim is adorned with Brown Ash wood and very high-quality Criollo Brown Nappa leather.

Symbolic of French flair from DS Automobiles, the OPERA interior, made up of seats with the watchstrap upholstery in Criollo Brown Nappa leather, sports an advanced design. Trim in Brown Ash wood and large areas in Criollo Brown Nappa leather complete this luxury setting.

The PERFORMANCE LINE version accentuates DS 4’s dynamism. Wide swathes of Alcantara® cover the dashboard, the doors and the whole centre console. The high-density foam seats have Basalt plaited cloth and Alcantara® finished with embroidery and special gold and Carmin stitching. The steering wheel has a single piece of forged carbon on the lower section.

The feeling of harmony inside is emphasized by ambient lighting that can be personalized, indirectly intended to accentuate the side features and contribute to the overall sense of calm. Acoustic ambience is provided by a combination of the 690-Watt FOCAL ELECTRA sound system with 14 speakers plus acoustic side glass (front and rear), a claimed first in the segment.

An air purification system actively protects the interior with sensors for PM2.5 particles inside and exterior pollution detection. The management of air coming into the car is optimized by the addition of a filtration system that can purify the air inside in just a few minutes. The quality of the air is recorded and displayed on the central screen.

Connectivity for a sleek and digital interior

For connectivity, the priority was to provide a solution so the driver no longer had to take their eyes off the road. Called DS EXTENDED HEAD-UP DISPLAY, this avant-garde visual experience is a first step towards augmented reality. With a new immersive technology, vital driving information is projected directly onto the road. Using an optical illusion, data is displayed four meters ahead of the windscreen diagonally following the driver’s gaze at 21-inches, never witnessed before in the segment. Essential information such as speed, driver aids, navigation, warning messages or even the track they’re listening to or the call they’re taking will be projected onto the road.

This sensory and experiential technology is part of a wider offering, at the heart of a new 10-inch infotainment system, DS IRIS SYSTEM with a tactile interface based around the idea of profiles that can be completely personaliszed with icons.

Controlled by voice and gesture, DS IRIS SYSTEM and DS SMART TOUCH incorporate a personal assistant capable of recognizing what’s said so that the system can carry out requests.

How good is the ride compared to the original DS?

Hydropneumatics have long been abandoned for DS ACTIVE SCAN SUSPENSION — what DS Automobiles markets as ‘dynamic serenity’. Essentially it is controlled damping of electronically regulated shock absorbers by means of camera positioned at the top of the windshield. Irregularities in the road surface are seen and transmitted digitally to a an onboard computer. With the four attitude sensors and three accelerometers, the system makes the suspension harder or softer depending on what’s required and controls each of the wheels independently. DS Automobiles claims the result is a “class leading ride”.

Night Vision display.

Though not new in the context of availability on automobiles (both GM and Mercedes Benz have offered a similar optional feature), DS NIGHT VISION is being offered in a first for this market segment. The system makes the road and its hazards more visible. An infrared camera, located in the grille, spots pedestrians and animals up to 200 metres away at night and in poor light. The driver sees the road’s hazards in their digital instrument display (and as warnings in the DS EXTENDED HEAD-UP DISPLAY) enabling them to react.

New take on DS lighting attributes

With a new generation of DS MATRIX LED VISION headlamps that are slimmer and more modern, the Matrix Beam and Dynamic Bending Light technology has been combined in the same system to give a distinctive and unique identity.

The DS MATRIX LED VISION headlamps are still made up of three LED modules which are the DS Automobiles signature:
The inner module of the headlight is used for the dipped function.

The moving central module can turn to an angle of 33.5°. It illuminates the sides of the carriageway and follows where you’re looking in corners. It is also a nod to the directional headlamps of the 1967 DS.

The outside Matrix Beam module illuminates for driving, split into fifteen segments which turn on and off independently, depending on the driving conditions it senses.
These projector headlamps adapt to traffic conditions, steering wheel angle, speed and weather conditions with five pre-set modes: city, country, motorway, bad weather and fog. They enable you to drive constantly on main beam without ever dazzling other road users. Using the camera located in the top part of the windscreen, these intelligent headlamps adapt their light beam automatically with a range of 300 metres, depending on traffic conditions, without ever dazzling others.

Environmental responsibility

DS 4 is made of 95% reusable materials and 85% recyclable parts. 30% of its weight is from renewable or recycled materials, divided between metals and polymers. The dashboard in particular is made of 20% hemp for parts that can’t be seen. Among the recycled materials, polypropylene, polyester and elastomer fibers are used under the chassis as baffles, for noise reducing or as mounting points.

Seven colours

Seven colours are available, two of them new: COPPER GOLD and LACQUERED GREY, which complement the other colours: PEARL CRYSTAL, PLATINUM GREY, RED VELVET, PEARL WHITE and PERLA NERA BLACK.


True innovation?

The sum of the whole makes the DS4 a well equipped offering, but many of its features have appeared (or you can bet soon will appear) on competitive models. Still, DS Automobiles seems for now to be ahead of the game, through barely with exterior styling.

DS 4 has already been introduced in all the DS STORES in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Sitting on a seat in Watchstrap upholstery Nappa leather, the consumer can configure their own design and see it with DS VIRTUAL VISION, through a virtual reality headset.

Deliveries of the DS 4 are set for the fourth quarter of 2021.

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