The second of three Citroen DS cars – the brand’s more stylish versions of regular models – is due to go on sale in the UK this summer aimed squarely at the fleet heartland of the lower medium sector.

But can the DS4 make the same leap forward in appeal the DS3 achieved when it arrived last year and offer user choosers something a little different?

Like the DS3, the DS4 is based on the regular Citroen sister car, in this case the C4. While the DS4 looks closely related to the C4 thanks to similar lights, bonnet and windows, it is shorter and taller. Citroen claims most DS4 buyers will be new to the brand, with the car rivalling cars such as the Alfa Giulietta, BMW 1-series and Mini Countryman as well as the Peugeot 3008 and Nissan Qashqai.

Power for the DS4 comes from a choice of two diesels, a 110hp 1.6 and a 163hp 2.0, and three petrol engines at launch, all 1.6-litre engines with power outputs of 120, 156 and 200hp.

At the car’s launch the most powerful petrol and diesel engines were available to drive, and both are impressively refined as well as being competitively economic. The 163hp diesel comes in at 134g/km, putting it in the 19% BIK band. The petrol doesn’t really have a weakness despite the fact that such a high power petrol traditionally would not make it to fleet lists, but a CO2 figure of just 154g/km should help. However, the diesel has a weakness, a frustratingly narrow power-band coupled to gearing that means you can struggle to be in the best gear to maintain a smooth drive.

The car’s other plus point is a decent-sized boot that is well ahead of the BMW or Alfa. However, against its true rivals, the new breed of crossover vehicles that sit between the standard five-door hatch and 4×4, the DS4 is left behind with just 385 litres of room. The Qashqai comes in at 410 and the Peugeot 3008 at more than 500 litres.

The rest of the interior of the DS4 is spacious with plenty of room for adults in the rear seats. However, passengers that suffer from motion sickness may find the lack of opening rear windows a little worrying. This is made all the worse by the soft suspension in the diesel, which means there’s plenty of body roll. The 200hp petrol, however, has a better-controlled body but sits on large alloy wheels and low-profile tyres that have a tendency to bang jarringly over bumps and potholes.

Up front, the higher level parts of the dashboard are made from better-quality plastics and there’s plenty of standard kit, but the layout is a bit confusing with little logic used for some of the displays or controls. Below the eye-line the quality of the materials quickly reduces to hard and shiny plastics. However, and oddly for a Citroen, it’s the list price that will turn fleets off. At £23,500 for the top-spec diesel, this is only £300 less than the faster and far better to drive BMW 118d M-sport. And the BMW has opening rear windows.

Citroen DS4 160 HDI 5dr manual DSport
P11D price £23,500*
Model price range £18,495-£24,000*
Fuel consumption 55.4mpg
CO2 (tax) 134g/km (19%)
BIK 20/40% per month £74/£148
Service interval 18,000mls
Insurance (1-50) group 20*
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space min/max 385/1021 litres
Engine size/power 1997cc/163hp
Top speed/0-62mph 132mph/9.3secs
On sale Mid-2011
Score 5/10
Verdict Not good enough
for one of the toughest
sectors in fleet
* estimate