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DS 4 bets on tech, comfort to challenge German premium rivals - Automotive News Europe

PARIS -- DS Automobiles will launch the DS 4 compact premium car by the end of this year with a plug-in hybrid option, but buyers will have to wait until 2024 for a full-electric drivetrain.

The DS 4 is built on an upgraded version of Stellantis' EMP2 architecture for compact and midsize vehicles. It will be built at Opel's Ruesselsheim factory in Germany, which will also build the new Opel/Vauxhall Astra on the same architecture.

It will take on established players from German brands in Europe's compact premium segment, including the No. 1 Mercedes A-Class (157,620 sales in 2020), the second-ranked BMW 1 Series (107,499 sales) and the third-place Audi A3 (96,280 sales).

Mercedes also holds the fourth and fifth spots with the CLA and the B-Class, while BMW's 2 Series AT/GT is sixth and the 2 Series Gran Coupe is seventh. The rest of the Top 10 for 2020 included the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, now discontinued; the Lexus CT; and the Volvo V40.

Carlos Tavares, CEO of DS parent Stellantis, is mainly aiming the brand against Audi. When he launched DS as a standalone brand, Tavares said he wanted it to be the French alternative to Audi.

Since it became a standalone brand in 2014, DS has carved out a niche in the premium segments, especially in France, with a focus on comfort and distinctive interior designs with finishes that recall jewelers' techniques. The DS 4 continues that strategy, with a camera-controlled suspension that adjusts dampers to road conditions ahead and heated, cooled and massage seats available in Nappa leather.

The DS 4's design was influenced by the brand's Aero Sport Lounge concept, which integrated SUV and crossover design cues into a compact hatchback shape. "It's aimed at customers attracted by two body shapes: The new aspirational coupe SUV and the traditional compact hatchback," product director Marion David said in a news release Monday.

It will be available in three basic versions: DS 4, DS 4 Cross and DS 4 Performance Line. The Cross version has roof bars, additional lower-body protection and optional traction control and hill descent control. The Performance Line has additional black trim and black alloy wheels. Each version has multiple trim levels.

Stellantis has not announced prices for the DS 4.

Five drivetrains will be available at launch: A gasoline engine with 130, 180 or 225 hp; a diesel with 130 hp; and a plug-in hybrid with a 180 hp gasoline engine and 110 hp electric motor. The plug-in version has an electric range of 55 km(34 miles) on the WLTP cycle.

A full-electric version will appear in 2024, but DS did not offer any more details. Other coming Stellantis compact EVs include the Peugeot 308 (2023) and the next-generation Peugeot 3008 SUV (2022).

The DS 4 is the fourth model designed specifically for the brand since 2017, following the DS 7 compact SUV, the DS 3 small SUV and the DS 9 midsize sedan. Two more models will follow in the product cycle. Future DS models will most likely share components with Alfa Romeo and Lancia as part of Stellantis' new premium brand group. 

As the only premium brand at PSA Group before the merger with Fiat Chrysler to create Stellantis, DS was the first to receive new technologies. 

The car has a new user interface, with a 5-inch touchscreen positioned low on the center console that uses gestures and fingertip movements to control various functions on the infotainment system, such as zooming in and out. The main interface is a 10-inch central screen that can be programmed to remember each user.

Other new interior features include an extended head-up display that uses an optical illusion to seemingly project information on the road ahead, which DS calls  "a first step toward augmented reality." Audio is handled with a 690-watt Focal system with 14 speakers and acoustic side glass, which DS says is a first in the segment. "Invisible" slim, vertical air vents free up space on the dashboard.

Safety and convenience features include radar sensors at each corner that have lengthened the blind-spot warning range to 75 meters (246 feet). DS Drive Assist combines adaptive cruise control and lanekeeping assistance to allow semi-autonomous driving on highways and in traffic jams, provided the driver keeps a hand on the steering wheel. 

Starting in 2022, the system will be upgraded to allow for semi-automatic overtaking, speed adjustment for corners and recommended speed adjustments based on signage.

In an additional safety device, part of the front headlight module can swivel up to 33.5 degrees to illuminate corners.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The photo gallery on this article was updated.

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