The Formentor was launched in 2020 as Cupra’s first dedicated product
An antidote to boredom: Cupra’s sharp, agile coupé SUV. Just be prepared for higher purchase costs
Familiarity breeds contempt, they say – and some people feel like that about SUVs after their boom in popularity.
In the current SUV market, there are so many boring, familiar faces, but there is an antidote: the Cupra Formentor.
Even today, the Cupra brand remains new and exciting for many buyers and the Formentor arrived in 2020 as its first dedicated product. Unlike the Seat Ateca and Seat Leon, this is a model you won’t see bearing a Seat badge. So it’s likely to be still receiving many a “what’s that?”.
The answer is a sharp and sporty, coupé-esque SUV, rather than a luxury SUV or rugged off-roader, and the performance reflects this.
Apart from a pair of rather sensible 148bhp and 187bhp offerings, pace is up there with hot hatches such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and R.
This is largely because the Formentor uses their engines, a 242bhp and 306bhp turbo four-cylinder respectively. The 306bhp model gets four-wheel drive and covers 0-60mph in 4.7sec. The plug-in hybrids are slower, naturally, but they’re no sluggards in real-world use, either.
Trims are linked with engine options. For example, you need VZ1 over entry-level V1 to get either of the hot hatch engines.
That said, V1 is still well equipped. You get 18in alloy wheels, full LED headlights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, privacy glass, power-folding door mirrors, three-zone climate control, keyless entry/ start and adaptive cruise control.
All Formentors come with built-in sat-nav, a DAB radio, four USB-C ports, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, wireless phone charging and a 12.0in touchscreen. The screen is bright and clear, and the operating system is responsive.
Top-tier VZ3 trim is available with only the most powerful TSI 310 engine and brings bigger Brembo brakes, special 19in alloy wheels and matrix LED headlights.
The suspension on V1, V2 and VZ1 cars is firmer than on less performance-focused rivals, but it does strike a good balance between comfort and body control. If you opt for VZ2 trim or above, you’ll get adjustable dampers too. The Formentor doesn’t feel alive in corners like a hot hatch does, but for an SUV, it’s really good.
The steering is precise and reasonably communicative, while grip is plentiful. Also, it weighs only a touch more than an average family hatch, so its agility isn’t something you should underestimate.
What’s the rub? Being three years old at most, it’ll cost you upwards of £24,000 – and that’s for the base 1.5-litre. Stepping up to the 306bhp engine costs at least £32,000 and that’s on par with prices of the similar Volkswagen T-Roc R. Because the 242bhp models are newer, they demand more of your dough.
They come in at around £37,000, and for a VZ3 car, you can expect to pay a similar price as well. But given all its plus points, and how fresh used examples still are, the Formentor does represent good value for money.
Our top spec
V1: If you’re going with the entry-level 1.5-litre, stick to the base trim. You’ll save a couple of thousand pounds over the V2 option and still have a generous level of kit that includes all the commonly sought luxuries.
Need to know
If you fancy a plug-in hybrid, consider the e-Hybrid 204. With a total system output of 201bhp, it can sprint from 0-62mph in 7.8sec and officially cover up to 37 miles on electric power alone. There’s also the more powerful e-Hybrid 245, which knocks nearly a second off that 0-62mph time.
Despite the rakish roofline, rear passengers have ample head and leg room, while the boot will easily deal with holiday luggage, a buggy or golf clubs.
Fuel economy: The range-topping 306bhp model is no Toyota Prius. Average consumption is rated at 32.8mpg, which, while not awful, is far from stellar. The 1.5 TSI 150 averages around 10mpg more.
Road tax: For petrol Formentors, expect to pay £165 per year in road tax, while hybrid cars are £155 per year. Find out if the car you’re looking at was more than £40,000 when new, because that could also mean an additional charge of £355 per year for years two to six of the car’s life.
Insurance: Groups range from 19 to 33, so the Formentor should prove to be cheaper than any Porsche Macan variant in this respect. The lowest group that car drops to is 35.
1.5 TSI 150: Sure, the punchier motors can overshadow the 1.5-litre, but don’t let that put you off it. Performance is still a step above many rivals’, plus it’s far cheaper to buy and run than the TSI 245 and 310.
TSI 130: Although we’re calling it a wild card, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about wanting this engine in your Formentor. The rapid pace suits the model very well. Just be prepared to pay for the privilege.