The Cupra Formentor heralds a situation where the electrified option offers a better deal than the traditional power trains, says TONIO DARMANIN.
Cupra is to Seat what Abarth is to Fiat. This is part of legacy left behind by Luca De Meo who was responsible for reviving both these high performance, motorsport subsidiary brands. Cupra was created in 2018 and took over the functions of Seat Special Vehicles Department responsible for numerous successes both in the World Rally Championship as well as the World Touring Car Championship.
In the product range we already have the Cupra Ateca and the Cupra Leon, but what I recently drove is the is the first car designed specifically for this brand.
The Cupra Formentor is a coupe SUV available as petrol, diesel and the PHEV version that I drove. There are also the even sportier variants, namely the Formentor VZ range (Veloz – Spanish word for fast), with a PHEV developing 245bhp, as well as a 310bhp (four-wheel drive) petrol option, but more about that later.
As is the tradition with this company, the name is tied to a locality – Formentor is a locality on the Spanish island of Majorca.
The dynamic proportions of the CUPRA Formentor are heightened by the visual emphasis placed towards the rear of the vehicle which accentuates the length of the bonnet. And the side profile of the high-performance crossover coupe alludes to the power found under the bonnet and the overall dynamism of the vehicle.
The body tone is reminiscent of a robust all-terrain vehicle, but the Formentor uses this design technique to lighten the vehicle, giving it a more svelte appearance, one that reflects the performance it delivers. This attribute is continued thanks to its compact and sporty aesthetics, closer to that of a hatchback, but in a coupe crossover, and its merging of all-terrain attributes expected from a traditional SUV.
“The elegant yet strong design continues at the rear”
The front of the Formentor is strong and determined, but elegant and refined with the large front grille home to the famous CUPRA copper badge and book marked by the full LED front headlights that use the signature design.
The elegant yet strong design continues at the rear with the integration of rear dynamic blinkers as well as a rear coast-to-coast light with a welcome ceremony that creates a visual width to the vehicle and gives not only a now signature look, but also helps the vehicle standout.
At 4450mm long and 1839mm wide and a height of 1,511mm it provides excellent headroom for all the passengers while the wheelbase of 2,680mm offers significant legroom for rear occupants and a boot capacity of up to 450 litres (420l for the 4Drive version and 345l for plug-in hybrid versions) it is also a practical option.
Inside, the cabin instantly communicates the character of the car, with a sophisticated, sporty design. The sports bucket seats are mounted low in the cabin to maximise space and are designed to allow for a more ergonomic seating position, giving a sense of the dynamic performance.
The digital cockpit was developed specifically for Cupra models, a sport view mode is also available, offering more focused display including RPM, torque, power, turbo pressure and G-acceleration .
In the interior, the leather dashboard with copper stitching appears to 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, but also provides safety functions too linked to the onboard driver’s assistant systems; flashing orange when exit assist is activated or red when the door is open for instance.
The centrepiece of the interior is the 12-inch infotainment touchscreen which provides the functionality and connectivity to all occupants and reduces button count. The system combines the Wireless Full Link system making it compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The simplicity and elegance of the interior is achieved in part thanks to the inclusion of the shift-by-wire DSG transmission technology, which helps declutter the interior, creating greater space.
When users are away from their vehicle, they can access vehicle information including driving data, parking information, vehicle status and set up speed alerts using the Cupra Connect app.
“The Formentor is loaded with the latest technology both in terms of comfort and connectivity as well as for safety”
For the plug-in hybrid versions, there are additional features too. Drivers can manage the charging process and control the Climatronic remotely as well as manage departure times, all from their fingertips.
Included in the lower power variants of the range, are the diesel Formentor 2.0 TDI 150PS (110kW), petrol Formentor 1.5 TSI 150PS (110kW) both available with either manual or DSG automatic transmissions, Formentor 2.0 TSI 190PS (140kW) DSG 4Drive and the plug-in hybrid CUPRA Formentor e-Hybrid 1.4 TSI 204PS (150kW), again with a DSG transmission.
With the step up in power, the VZ name finds its way onto the Formentor VZ 2.0 TSI 245PS (180kW) DSG front-wheel-drive first, and is joined by the plug-in hybrid Formentor VZ e-Hybrid 1.4 TSI 245PS (180kW) DSG front-wheel-drive and the Formentor VZ 2.0 TSI 310PS (228kW) DSG 4Drive finishing the line-up.
The car I drove is the Formentor e-Hybrid developing a combined 204hp and 350Nm of torque. Acceleration to 100km/h takes 7.9 seconds and the car reaches a maximum speed of 205km/hr. Emissions are calculated at just 33g/km of CO2, while economy of up to 188.3mpg is possible, as long as you plug it in regularly. The electric range is 59km on a single charge of the 12.8kWh (usable capacity) battery.
The Formentor is loaded with the latest technology both in terms of comfort and connectivity as well as for safety. The seating position is set middle way between an SUV and a normal saloon, making it easy to enter and exit and at the same time still enhances the car’s overall sporty attitude.
The DSG shifts smoothly, suspension on the 18inch alloys is comfortable in most circumstances and the steering is precise and gives adequate feedback. The car handles well, with massive grip and negligible bode roll.
As I anticipated when I tested the Seat Leon PHEV, this was the brand fastest approaching the situation where the electrified option will offer a better deal than the traditional power trains. Well here it is. The very well-equipped car I tested offering 204bhp and impressive economy costs €25,500 net of the Govt grant and scrappage or €26,500 if you do not have an older vehicle to scrap. The basic 1.5 TSI (150bhp) petrol version with a manual gearbox costs €32,500. Which one would you go for?