Since rushing to flesh out its model range above and beyond the original DS 3 and becoming a brand in its own right, DS has implored its chassis engineers to think a bit more clearly about the tuning of its cars.
Those engineers now talk about a concept called ‘dynamic hypercomfort’ – a new, ideal blend of ride fluency, outright grip and handling response that only a French premium-branded car can provide, apparently.
Be that as it may, what matters is that the effort is being made. And it’s paying off.
Having been one of the least dynamically sophisticated crossover hatchbacks on the market, the 4 now hits a broadly competitive standard.
The overly firm and reactive ride of the original car has been replaced, at least in the case of the Crossback, by greater suppleness and compliance.
Moreover, the use of softer, longer springs and more pragmatic anti-roll bars actually produces outright grip and balance for the 4’s handling, as well as greater progressiveness as that grip ebbs away, and costs the car nothing significant at all on body control.
The fitment of an electro-hydraulic power steering system, where almost all other PSA Peugeot Citroën models now use fully electromechanical equivalents, is an empty gesture, though, because at no point does the 4 steer convincingly well.
The variable-assistance rack is cloyingly, unhelpfully heavy at low speed (when feedback is all but useless) and light and uncommunicative at higher speed – with more than a hint of torsional column flex apparent in its initial response.
The woolly vagueness of that steering doesn’t prevent you from engaging with the 4 entirely, though. The car turns in with reasonable keenness, develops moderate grip as it rolls gently onto its outside contact patches, maintains decent balance as it goes and keeps enough suspension travel in reserve at all times to deal adequately well with mid-corner bumps. Most of that was beyond the ken of the pre-facelift 4.
The car’s ride is by no means brilliant. Sharper ridges and big intrusions thump through more harshly than they would in, say, a Nissan Qashqai or a Skoda Yeti. But it deals with average A-road and B-road intrusions almost as well as anything in the class.
Just as on most Peugeots and Citroëns, the DS 4’s electronic stability control is active above about 30mph whether you want it to be or not. Below that speed, you can disable it in order to make some helpful wheelslip on slippery surfaces.