New DS 4 vs Audi Q3 vs Cupra Formentor: interiors

With names like E-Tense, TFSIe and eHybrid, these SUVs are eager to promote their electrification and efficiency. But which one’s the boss?...

New DS 4 dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

For many buyers, the fact that SUVs traditionally offer loftier driving positions than regular hatchbacks is one of the attractions, so you might be a little disappointed to find that you sit relatively close to the ground in the Cupra Formentor and DS 4.

The Audi Q3 is the only one that allows you to gaze over the rooftops of regular hatchbacks, while its seat has plenty of (manual) adjustment and holds you in position well through corners. You won’t necessarily stay comfortable on long journeys, though, because adjustable lumbar support isn’t available on S line versions, even as an option.

Conversely, the DS 4 comes as standard with lumbar support adjustment for the driver’s seat (which is manipulated manually unless you specify the £700 Electric Seats Pack), but the seat itself isn’t particularly supportive and you tend to sink into its base, as you might on a cheap couch. It can take quite a bit of fiddling with the seat height and steering wheel before you feel totally comfortable.

Audi Q3 dashboard

You’ll have no such problems in the Formentor. As long as you’re willing to accept the hatchback-like driving position, getting comfortable is a breeze. The Formentor is the only one of our trio with a standard electrically adjustable driver’s seat (including for lumbar support), while its heavy bolstering holds you the most firmly in the corners.

However, you don’t have the same commanding view ahead as you do in the Q3. The Formentor and DS 4 also have tapering side windows, chunky rear pillars and shallow rear windows, making over-the-shoulder vision challenging, at least compared with the Q3, which has taller glass all around. Thankfully, the Formentor and DS 4 come with rear-view cameras and front and rear parking sensors to help with low-speed manoeuvring; the camera and front sensors are £1195 extra on the Q3 (as part of the optional Comfort and Sound Pack).

In terms of interior quality, the DS 4 doesn’t feel like the cheapest car here; in fact, its plush materials give it the most upmarket ambience. Leather and soft Alcantara adorn most of the frequently touched surfaces (with Alcantara on the seats as well), and there are lots of lovely little touches, such as contrasting stitching on the doors and centre console, gloss black interior trim and a forged carbonfibre insert on the steering wheel.

Cupra Formentor dashboard

The Formentor isn’t far behind when it comes to visual appeal; its interior looks strikingly similar to that of the far pricier Lamborghini Urus, and we love the perforated leather steering wheel and contrasting stitching on the seats and dashboard. The Formentor lets itself down, however, by featuring too much hard plastic in the lower areas, while its spray-painted plastic heater vents look cheap.

In comparison, the Q3’s interior looks rather sombre, and the large slab of grey plastic below the air-con controls isn’t particularly premium, but its buttons and stalks feel reassuringly slick. You also get physical buttons to adjust the interior temperature – just as it should be – whereas the Formentor and DS 4 have touch-sensitive controls that are more distracting to operate when you’re driving.

Infotainment systems

DS 4

New DS 4 infotainment

The DS 4’s touchscreen is a decent size (10.0in) and has reasonable clarity, but it takes a while to respond to inputs and the icons are rather small, making them tricky to hit on the move. To help minimise this problem, DS has fitted a second, smaller touchscreen lower down on the centre console. This operates like a trackpad and allows you to shortcut to different applications, but in reality it’s more distracting than simply using the main screen.

Audi Q3

Audi Q3 infotainment

The Q3’s 10.1in touchscreen is one of the best of its kind, in that it’s sharp and responsive to your inputs. It also has an intuitive layout, with large shortcut icons that are placed within easy reach of the driver on the right-hand side of the screen. Our only real gripe is that the screen, like the DS 4’s, is mounted quite low down, so it’s not all that easy to see at a glance. If you like your music, we’d recommend the optional Sonos sound system, which is balanced, neutral and clear.

Cupra Formentor

Cupra Formentor infotainment

The Formentor gets the largest (12.0in) touchscreen of our trio, and it’s perched high on the dashboard, where it’s easy to see. Responses are swift and there’s a row of handy shortcut icons along the bottom. The unconventional menus might seem a tad confusing at first, but once you’ve learnt your way around, they all make sense. We have yet to try the optional Beats sound system (£415), but it’s far less powerful than the premium options in the Q3 and DS 4.

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