Making a return to the premium C-segment hatchback market, Citroën’s premium offshoot DS has revealed the second-generation DS 4, three years after the original – formerly known as the Citroën DS4 – was discontinued. Partly inspired by last year’s Aero Sport Lounge concept, the car was designed to appeal to both crossover and traditional hatch buyers, the company said.

At 4.4 metres long, 1.83 metres wide and 1.47 metres tall, the new DS 4 is significantly longer and lower than its predecessor (it’s also comparable in length to the latest Mercedes-Benz A-Class, but is wider still). It rides on an improved version of the Efficient Modular Platform (EMP2), allowing for increased electrification and a lightweight construction while meeting the latest safety standards.

The new DS 4 retains the brand’s distinctive design language, which at the front means slim adaptive matrix LED headlights, a large six-point grille and dramatic L-shaped daytime running lights. Along the side, the shoulder line is broken up into two sections above the front and rear wheels for a more muscular look, complemented by a hockey-stick swage line low down.

The fast rear windscreen rake of the old DS 4 has been retained, but the distinctive hidden rear door handles are gone, replaced by four flush-fitting handles from the DS 3 Crossback. At the rear, you’ll find slitlike LED taillights – with a laser-etched scale effect – joined together by a chrome strip, plus a very narrow-looking rear windscreen. The split C-pillars add the all-important “floating roof” look.

As standard, the DS 4 comes with a contrasting black roof and chrome trim, the latter finished in gloss black on the Performance Line, which is also fitted with black alloy wheels. Those looking for a more rugged SUV-style look can opt for the Cross model, which adds matte black bumper inserts, a body-coloured roof and unique wheel designs, together with a more advanced traction control and hill descent control.

Speaking of which, the DS 4 is offered with large 19- and 20-inch wheel options, featuring a narrow width and flush inserts to improve aerodynamic efficiency. They are also 10% lighter than conventional alloys, representing a weight reduction of up to 1.5 kg per corner.

Inside, DS continues its reputation for extravagant interior designs, with a cabin that wraps around the front passengers. The available two-tone colour scheme demarcates the different zones – a “contact zone” and an “interactive zone” where the displays sit. The air vent designs are also novel; the centre vents are hidden behind a chrome strip, while the corner vents are located in the doors.

Just aft of those corner vents are the window switches, which are colour-coded for drivers to better distinguish between right and left (the rear windows do open this time, thankfully). As usual, emphasis is placed on materials like Nappa leather and open-pore ash wood, as well as craftsmanship details such as Clous de Paris guilloche patterns and watchstrap-esque seat upholsteries.

Performance Line models get Alcantara and plaited fabric seats, as well as genuine forged carbon trim on the steering wheel. The company has also paid particular attention to the shell-like seat design, which comes with massage and ventilation functions and a high-density foam backing for increased comfort. Open the hands-free powered tailgate and you’ll find a generous 430-litre boot.

In terms of infotainment, the DS 4 features a new smartphone-inspired DS Iris interface that boots up quickly upon starting the car. It’s supported by a voice control system and a secondary DS Smart Touch display on top of the tall centre console, offering shortcuts and pinch-to-zoom and handwriting recognition. The large 21-inch head-up display projects information onto the driver’s field of view.

Other features include a 14-speaker, 690-watt Focal Elektra sound system, acoustic front and rear side windows (a first for the segment, DS claims) and an air purifier with a PM2.5 filtration system. Safety-wise, the DS 4 gets an upgraded DS Drive Assist 2.0 semi-autonomous driving system, adding semi-autonomous overtaking, corner speed reduction and traffic sign recognition. Long-range blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are also available, as is an infrared-enabled night vision system.

The DS 4 is constructed using composite and hot-stamped steel parts and uses more compact components – such as the air-conditioning module – to free up interior space. Increased use of bond-welding has also improved structural rigidity, while the redesigned steering and suspension components make for better road holding. Adding to the ride comfort is the DS Active Scan Suspension system, which uses a windscreen camera to scan for surface imperfections, independently controlling each of the four dampers to suit.

Under the bonnet, the DS 4 comes with the usual range of 130 hp, 180 hp and 225 hp PureTech petrol and 130 hp BlueHDi diesel engines. There’s also an E-Tense plug-in hybrid model that pairs the 180 hp petrol mill with a 110 hp electric motor to deliver a total system output of 225 hp, along with an all-electric range of 50 km. All models come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.