Cupra Formentor review

Cupra’s second model is its first all-new, bespoke vehicle – the Formentor coupe-SUV. Just how good, or otherwise, is it?

What's this?

It’s the Cupra Formentor, a coupe-SUV from the new performance arm of Spanish marque SEAT and named after the Cap de Formentor at the eastern end of the island of Majorca. It’s the second model from Cupra since it became a brand all of its own, after the Cupra Ateca – also an SUV – but whereas there’s a SEAT Ateca that formed the basis of that pioneering vehicle, there is no SEAT Formentor equivalent for sale; this is a bespoke machine created purely for Cupra. It launches initially with only the most potent engine it will receive, a 2.0-litre TSI petrol unit developing 310hp and 400Nm. This drives all four wheels through an all-wheel-drive system known as ‘4Drive’, with the transmission being a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic. It’s a very fast car as a result, recording a 0-100km/h time of 4.9 seconds and capable of hitting a 250km/h maximum speed limiter.

Alongside the 310 TSI, Cupra will offer a variety of mainly petrol and petrol-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrains for the Formentor, although there will be one turbodiesel 2.0-litre TDI with 150hp. Next to this, the cheapest model will be the 150 TSI 1.5-litre petrol with 150hp, while a couple of hybrids mate a 1.4-litre TSI engine to powerful electric motors. One of these hybrids will deliver 204hp, while the other ramps up to 245hp.

How is it to drive?

It’s technically brilliant and suitably composed across a wide variety of dynamic disciplines, if not the most exciting performance vehicle you’ll ever drive. Despite this, as rapid SUVs go, the Formentor has one of the best chassis you can find. The engine is strong from idle to redline, working efficiently through the DSG and 4Drive system to deploy as much of its power as cleanly and as fuss-free as is possible. The adjustable Dynamic Chassis Control suspension allows the Formentor to be comfortable and supple in its Comfort setting, tautening up the dampers’ hold on the body in both the sharper Sport and top Cupra modes. The ride does become a touch too bouncy and firm in the Cupra setting on poorer surfaces, but it isn’t an unusable setting for public roads.

The steering is sharp and well-weighted, although it doesn’t give back much in terms of feel, while a slight artificial augmentation of the 2.0-litre engine’s exertions can be discerned in the cabin when the Formentor is in Sport or Cupra; again, it’s judged well enough that it doesn’t become annoying and in general the Cupra SUV has an enjoyable soundtrack, especially with some rumbles, pops and bangs emanating from its exhaust. For more sedate driving, the Formentor works excellently as a quiet, civilised conveyance for getting around town and good visibility with light controls make it feel smaller and more car-like than its physical presence would actually suggest.

When is it coming to Ireland?

The Cupra Formentor will go on sale from December, priced from €35,945 for a 1.5 TSI. The 2.0-litre TSI 310 is obviously considerably more expensive, with a €57,910 starting price. This top-power Formentor will be available in two trims, the higher of which is the VZ (an abbreviation of the Spanish word ‘veloz’, or fast) – and this comes with 19-inch Sport Copper alloys, leather upholstery with bucket seats, heating for said seats and also the steering wheel, Dynamic Chassis Control with sports suspension, LED lights, three-zone climate control, a 12-inch touchscreen media system, parking sensors all round, automatic lights and wipers, and a suite of advanced driver assist safety systems, among more.

Any juicy technology?

The Formentor VZ has a strip of ambient lighting that runs around the base of the windscreen, starting in the door cards. This, rather neatly, incorporates the yellow warning lights for the Blind Spot Detection system. Instead of having the little car-overtaking-car logos that illuminate in the door mirrors, as is usual on modern vehicles with some form of blind-spot monitoring fitted, bits of the Formentor’s interior light strip near the A-pillars flash if there’s a vehicle hidden from your mirrors. It’s not as if the warning light in the door mirrors themselves was a piece of technology that needed drastically updating, but Cupra’s take on the idea is just that bit tidier and more wonderfully showy. rating: 4.5/5

Another strong SUV product from Cupra, the Formentor provides an assured and enjoyable drive no matter what the weather conditions outside are. There’s maybe a bit too much mission-brief overlap on it when compared to the pre-existing Cupra Ateca, but as the Formentor looks nicer outside and in, doesn’t sacrifice too much in terms of practicality and feels that touch more special because it isn’t available as a SEAT, it’s a perfectly worthy and highly desirable addition to the Cupra fleet.

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