Citroen's DS4, the production version of the High Rider concept shown at the Geneva show earlier this year, has been spied during hot-weather testing.
Judging by the car’s lines, Citroën is gearing up to offer its latest DS model as a 'premium' addition to the mainstream hatch market, instead of taking on SUVs.
Due to make its public debut in production form at the Paris show in September, the DS4 has a body style that is being called “high rider” by Citroën insiders.
That’s a clear reference to the Geneva show concept on which the DS4 is based, although the production version has gained two more doors.
The name also refers to a slightly raised profile with an unusually steep rear hatch. “It’s a new vision,” one source told us. “It’s not your usual coupé.”
Some insiders have admitted that the new Focus-rivalling C4, revealed last month, has been kept deliberately restrained to make it easier for the DS variant to look radical. But the DS will retain much of the regular car’s front end, including its headlights, bonnet and mirrors.
The wings, doors, roof and rear hatchback will set the more extreme variant apart, but it’s still likely to be positioned as a slightly more upmarket family car rather than a full-blown coupé SUV.
The new model is around 4.3m long. Its roofline is said to be 30mm higher than a C4’s, but the car is 6cm shorter than the regular hatchback.
All of that metal has come off the rear overhang, helped by a roof that tails off sharply — potentially at the cost of headroom — and a rakish hatch.
This test car carries extra cladding in those areas, helping to disguise how low the rear roofline will be. But it does reveal that the DS4 will keep the slim LED tail-lights previewed on the High Rider concept.
The show car’s huge alloy wheels won’t make production, but much of the DS4’s increased height will come through chunkier tyres. We’d expect the final production model to sit on larger rims than the test car spied here.
Inside, the DS4 is said to focus more on luxury than the sporty DS3. So instead of the smaller car’s body-coloured fascia elements, there will be soft-touch fabrics and leather.
The cabin is said to be “driver-focused, but with panoramic visibility”. As this test car suggests, the windscreen line will be taken further back into the roof than on the C4.
The move away from the DS3’s formula is likely to have given Citroën a headache, because the first DS model has been a hit. The firm has sold France’s annual allocation of DS3s in the first four months of production.
The DS4’s engine line-up is likely to mirror the C4’s — and that should include Citroën’s e-HDi diesel hybrid system. Previewed on the High Rider concept, it mates a small electric motor to a diesel engine, probably a 1.6-litre unit.
Citroën has the capacity to mount the electric motor on the rear axle, making the car four-wheel drive, but a DS4 with this set-up is unlikely to be ready in time for the model’s launch.
The DS4 will go on sale early next year and will be followed later in 2011 by the DS5. Citroën sources have also hinted that the firm could introduce an additional, larger model.