Road test with Mark Slack: Cupra Formentor – a premium performance

Road test with Mark Slack: Cupra Formentor - a premium performance. Image - Cupra

WITH so much integration of platforms car makers are increasingly looking at differentiating their products from the competition, and within large groups like Volkswagen Audi it is arguably even more important. SEAT has progressed the idea though with the Cupra range.

Originally Cupra were the sports-orientated models within the SEAT line‐up but the name is now a brand in its own right, having dropped the SEAT name, with a complete Cupra range. There are also signs of the brand’s EV direction with the new all‐electric Cupra Born.

While some Cupras are very obviously SEAT models, the Spanish carmaker is increasingly producing individual models unique to the Cupra brand. The Formentor is one such model and despite the fact that even the largest engine in the range is only 2.0‐litres it sounds fantastic on start‐up.  Although this is ‘manufactured’ sound it does add to the appeal and make it feel something special. With a top power output of 310PS the performance lives up to the soundtrack.

Prices start from €35,006/£29,880 and much of the kit in the top‐of‐the‐line versions finds its way into the lead‐in models too. There’s a 12” touchscreen, full LED lighting, auto‐dimming rearview mirror, cornering lights, wireless phone charging, adaptive cruise control and keyless entry and start.

The engine line‐up starts with a 1.5 TSi, 150PS, through to the 2.0‐litre 310PS mentioned earlier. There are manual and automatic transmission choices, all‐wheel‐drive and petrol/ electric hybrids.

As ever, especially with VAG products, there is rather too much digitalisation, and a consequent lack of buttons, but familiarity would over time make life easier. That apart it’s a very nice place to be with, in my top-line model, extremely comfortable seats, an impressive build quality and the general feel of this being an upmarket car.

At €51,021/£43,550 it may seem expensive, but look at some of the rivals and it

begins to look competitive. Despite the lack of a premium badge it has the advantage of being something different to the usual premium crowd. On the road, it handles extremely well for such a large machine, with sports suspension and four‐wheel‐drive that’s perhaps not surprising, and the ride is comfortably firm compared to similar less compliant sports models within the VAG stable.

This is an impressive machine and for my money still the pick of the Cupra range, being a very individual model rather than a bespoke, or tailored pick straight from the pages of the SEAT catalogue.


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