New DS 4 vs Audi Q3 vs Cupra Formentor: costs
With names like E-Tense, TFSIe and eHybrid, these SUVs are eager to promote their electrification and efficiency. But which one’s the boss?...
Buying and owning
Costs, equipment, reliability, safety and security
If you’re in a lucky enough position to pay for one of these cars up front, the Cupra Formentor will work out cheapest to own over three years. This might come as a surprise, considering that it’s the most expensive to buy initially. But once you factor in its slower rate of depreciation and more efficient use of electricity and petrol, it will save you around £1100 over the Audi Q3 and £1300 over the DS 4 during that period.
Many buyers, however, will go down the PCP finance route, and here the DS 4 looks more tempting. Put down a £5000 deposit on a four-year term with an annual limit of 10,000 miles and you’ll pay £523 a month (aided by a £2500 deposit contribution from DS at the time of writing). You’ll need to find an extra £23 a month for the Formentor (with a £500 deposit contribution) and £38 more for the Q3. The DS 4 also has a smaller ‘balloon’ payment if you decide to buy it outright at the end of the term.
All three of our contenders have an official electric range of 30 miles or more, so they slot into the same 12% benefit-in-kind tax band, but the DS 4’s lower list price means it’s the cheapest to run as a company car. If you’re in the 40% tax bracket, you’ll have to sacrifice £158 of your salary each month to have one – a tenner less than you’ll pay for the Formentor and £12 less than the Q3.
The Formentor is the best equipped, while the Q3 is the stingiest. All three come with climate control with a separate zone for your front passenger, cruise control, full LED headlights, privacy glass and power-folding door mirrors, but the Formentor also comes with full leather seats (heated up front) and a heated steering wheel, while it joins the DS 4 in having adaptive cruise control (£350 extra on the Q3) and keyless entry and start (which you can’t get on the Q3).
All three cars come with a cable that can be plugged into a domestic three-pin socket, as well as a Type 2 cable for faster top-ups via a home wallbox or some public chargers. As is fairly typical for plug-in hybrids, the peak charging rate of the Q3 and Formentor is limited to 3.6kW, meaning that a full charge will take three to four hours. The DS 4 can accept rates of up to 7kW, so a full charge should take less than two hours.
The Formentor scored strongly in the tough new Euro NCAP safety tests that were introduced in 2021, scoring the maximum five stars available. The entry-level DS 4 scored a disappointing four stars in the same test, but the E-Tense was upgraded to five stars, because it comes with the Safety Plus Pack that’s optional on cheaper variants; this introduces a more advanced automatic emergency braking system. The Q3 was also given five stars by NCAP, but it was tested under a less stringent procedure back in 2018.
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