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Test drive: CUPRA Formentor, the stylish SUV Coupé

LLM motoring editor Lisa Curtiss reviews the CUPRA Formentor, the sporting, stylish SUV

By Lisa Curtiss  |  October 11, 2021
CUPRA Formentor

Those in the market for an SUV these days are spoilt for choice. Just about every brand has at least one model in its range, from cute and compact to substantial all-terrain capable seven seaters. One you might not have heard of as yet is the Formentor from CUPRA, SEAT’s breakaway brand dedicated to producing super sporty premium models with flashy distinctive looks.

This eye-catching model is named after Cape Formentor on the Spanish island of Mallorca and was designed, developed and is built in Martorell, Barcelona. Production began September last year and this is the first model to be homologated under the CUPRA brand.

Distinctive sporty styling and bold lines

Viewed close up, this really is a sexy, stylish SUV. It’s uniquely characterful and has been artfully sculpted to emphasise its dynamic performance and handling prowess. There’s no mistaking this is a CUPRA. The sporty aesthetic is completed with flashy 19-inch alloy wheels – available in a striking copper finish – which house 18-inch performance Brembo brakes.

The Formentor squats closer to the ground than most other SUVs and this gives it an almost brooding, ready to pounce guise, whilst hinting at a kart-like thrilling drive. Unlike a traditional SUV, the model merges all-terrain attributes with the compact and sporty appearance of a hatchback, in coupé crossover form. It really is a rather gorgeous attention-stealing alternative to the plethora of rather dull and soulless SUVs clogging up Waitrose car parks these days.

CUPRA Formentor front view

Plenty of space

It’s not all about the Formentor’s show-stopping looks though. It’s actually a remarkably practical car even for busy family use. At 4,450mm long, 1,839mm wide and 1,511mm high, it provides excellent headroom for all the passengers while the wheelbase of 2,680mm offers significant legroom for rear passengers. The boot’s a good size too at 450 litres, rising to 1,475 litres when the rear seats are folded down.

Stylish on the inside too

Walk towards the car and before you enter you’ll notice the CUPRA logo projected on the floor via a puddle lamp. Once inside, you’re surrounded by high-quality materials, with brushed dark aluminium and copper accents making the cabin feel modern and contemporary.

There are bucket seats, available in both petrol blue and black leather, which are mounted low in the cabin to maximise space and allow a more ergonomic seating position. These give a sense of the dynamic performance before a wheel has been turned.

The dashboard is another clever design and appears to almost float, an impression created by the horizontal full-LED wraparound ambient lighting which runs the width of the dashboard and in both front doors. This light is not only an aesthetic feature, it also includes safety functions, flashing yellow when blind spot detection or exit assist are activated.

The centrepiece of this stylish dashboard is the 12-inch touchscreen which provides the functionality and connectivity to all occupants and reduces button count. The driver benefits from a fully-customisable digital binnacle (digital cockpit) as well as a flat-bottomed steering wheel that houses the engine start and CUPRA driving mode buttons, as well as the larger gearbox shift paddles. In front of the transmission shifter found on the centre console is the ‘ESP’ button, allowing users to turn the electronic stability control to ‘sport’ (press of the button) or off (press and hold), to maximise the driver’s control of the vehicle.

CUPRA Formentor side view

Pace and power

Dr. Werner Tietz, SEAT’s executive vice-president for R&D said of the car: “The CUPRA Formentor provided the development team with a blank canvas, they were able to integrate powertrain technologies that deliver the optimum in high-performance, balanced against incredible efficiency. Combining our combustion engine with an electric motor offers incredible performance and effortless acceleration; hybridisation is a perfect technology for the CUPRA Formentor.”

The engine line-up includes a 1.5-litre TSI engine available with 150PS , and refined 2.0-litre TSI offered with 190PS, 245PS or 310PS. Also, for drivers who want the dramatic design of a CUPRA with eco-conscious performance, a plug-in hybrid variant is available. This features a 1.4-litre TSI 150PS petrol engine paired to a 116PS (electric motor, powered by a 13kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and available with a combined output of either 204PS or 245PS.

This e-HYBRID has an electric-only range of up to 36 miles (V1 204PS), making it ideal for low emission urban zones, while it can be charged from 0-100% in just 3 hours 33 minutes using a 3.6 kW AC charger. It produces CO2 emissions from as low as 27g/km while acheiving up to 235.4mpg (WLTP). The car also features an electrical brake booster that gives the CUPRA Formentor e-HYBRID the ability to recover braking energy through the plug-in hybrid’s blending function.

For those who hanker for the ultimate expression of CUPRA’s performance, opt for the 310PS 2.0-litre TSI turbocharged petrol engine with 4Drive (4WD) technology and a seven-speed DSG transmission. This pulse-raising engine provides peak power output of 310PS with a hefty 400Nm of torque, enabling the 0-62mph sprint in a blistering 4.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 155mph.

CUPRA Formentor interior

The Formentor’s 4Drive system constantly monitors numerous sources – steering angle, wheel speed and yaw of the vehicle – to deliver power to the correct wheel at the precise time, giving a sense of confidence behind the wheel in any driving scenario.

Gear-wise, you can choose between a six-speed manual (150PS model only) and a silky-smooth seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission. The shift-by-wire technology is designed so that the gear selector is no longer mechanically connected to the gearbox, instead using electronic signals to indicate a shift. This not only enhances efficiency, but also offers a more engaging drive.

Out on the road the Formentor proves a rewarding, swift and engaging drive. Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) as standard, which constantly monitors the road surfaces and driver inputs and makes imperceptible changes to the set-up in milliseconds to guarantee surefootedness in any condition while delivering the most engaging drive. And you can set-up your vehicle to your preferences (comfort, sport, individual, CUPRA and offroad) on the steering-wheel mounted button. Imperceptible gear changes, rapid acceleration, pin sharp steering make every drive fun.

Technology rich

As you’d hope there’s a raft of information, entertainment and safety technology in the Formentor. The model integrates a host of the most advanced solutions and systems around.

The car’s 12-inch infotainment system reduces the number of physical buttons to a minimum and integrates both voice and gesture control. The touchscreen is a portal to the Full Link system which is compatible with both Apple CarPlay (wireless) and Android Auto (wired), as well as displaying 3D online navigation. Passengers can plug their phone into the vehicle via the four USB-C connection points or connect using Bluetooth to access their ecosystem of apps.

CUPRA Formentor charging in street

The driver also benefits from a 10.25-inch digital driver cockpit which is fully customisable and able to show all key vehicle information. For those who love to see just how good their driving is, it is also available with ‘sport view’, putting information including RPM, torque, power, turbo pressure and G-meter in view.

Thanks to the embedded SIM (eSIM) card, Formentor customers will benefit from the CUPRA Connect app that brings online services directly into the vehicle, allowing customers to access downloadable apps, online radio and remote access to vehicle data.

At the touch of the screen, users can access driving data of previous journeys and remaining range, parking position, lock and unlock the doors, set up speed alerts so you can be warned if someone using your vehicle is driving too fast, be alerted if your vehicle has been stolen, or activate the horn and turn signals to find the car more easily in a crowded car park.

The range of driver assistance and safety systems makes the CUPRA Formentor one of the most relaxing and safest vehicles on the road. Highlights include predictive and adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, exit assist and more.

To sum up, the CUPRA Formentor is a sporting yet practical SUV with heaps more kerb appeal than most. It’s also well built, comfortable and tech rich. Do take one for a test drive and include it on your list of SUVs for serious purchase consideration.