The Cupra Formentor is a car now in the segment of vehicles called Hot SUVs. A nod back to the 1980s when Hot Hatchbacks were all the rage, today’s buyers want the performance of these sporty cars with the practicality of a family car.
Enter the Hot SUV, slightly smaller than the trend of SUVs a few years ago; the latest provides dynamic power and handling packaged in a versatile exterior.
It is a hotly contested market with solid competition from most marques, a couple to mention the Ford Escape in North America, Hyundai Santa Fe, Volvo XC40 .
I drove the CUPRA Formentor VZ2 2.0 TSI 4Drive 310PS DSG, which starts at $57000 and delivers on the label Hot. Producing 306 bhp and an impressive 0- 100 Km/H time of 4.9 s, it can reach a top speed of 240 Km/H. Now the top speed is irrelevant in the UK, with 70 as the national speed limit, but in mainland Europe where you can stretch the legs of cars somewhat more, it does carry kudos with buyers. The acceleration is, however, noteworthy for buyers who like their vehicles as more than something to get them from A to B. Sub 5 seconds is what sports cars used to achieve, and now an SUV can obtain this.
The Cupra Formentor delivers on handling too, which is a must to utilise the excellent performance for a car of this size. The model I tested has four-wheel drive, so grip is guaranteed, but the Formentor has the whole package with decent suspension and balance, allowing you to drive it like a smaller vehicle.
Two engine sizes and two Hybrid powertrains are available, the 1.5-litre and the 2-litre TSi and you can still get a manual transmission if you really like to drive.
The interior is lovely, well-designed, excellent quality and spacious. You get beautiful details like the LED light strip spanning the leading edge of the dashboard. You can change the colour using the infotainment screen, and if you have the upgraded Safety and Driving Pack, it glows more intensely under the side mirrors to let you know about vehicles in your blind spot.
The Cupra Formentor has two screens, a 25cm digital gauge cluster for the driver and a 30cm infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The infotainment screen is touch-sensitive, which is tricky to negotiate when moving. The heated seats are operated from the touchscreen, while climate controls are adjusted using touch-sensitive sliders under the infotainment screen. Every version comes with a wireless smartphone charger, a great feature that does away with tangled leads cluttering the cabin.
The only physical buttons in the cabin are on the steering wheel and the one I found myself using the drive mode selector button most. You press the button to select which drive mode you want, relating to the type of journey you want. Sport equates to a tighter suspension, full power, superb performance, and a growl from the engine. Other modes are Economy and Norm, which speak for themselves.
The driving position in the Cupra Formentor is good, providing plenty of all-around vision, and everything is within easy reach from the driver’s seat. All seats are comfortable and supportive, with good space for all occupants. The luggage-carrying capability in the version I reviewed is fine for most day-to-day use, with 420 litres in boot space. You can get more if you put the rear seats down, which split 60:40. Occupants get loads of storage bins for their bits and pieces. The centre console has a storage tray big enough to hold the biggest smartphones, and door cards can hold litre water bottles,
As you would expect from a modern car, safety tech is packed into the Cupra Formentor, with road sign recognition, land departure warning, and blind-spot warning. You can connect your smartphone to the car to use Remote climate control, preset the temperature of the interior and set the time you want this to happen. The connectivity also allows you to check the car’s status, from fuel level and remaining battery range, or check if the lights are off and windows are closed. You can locate your Formentor instantly if you forget where you parked, and the App will show you the best route back to it. Other options are analysing your driving data and identifying your vehicle in a car park but instigating the turn signals and horn to notify you where the Formentor is.
The more Cupra models I drive, the more I am impressed with the marque. The Formentor solidifies this opinion, and I loved driving it. It offers much of what you would find in a much higher-priced SUV while providing excellent performance and handling. If you drove a Hot Hatch in the ’80s, you will appreciate how good the Formentor is. Even if you didn’t, get behind the wheel of this Hot SUV, and you will fall for it.
The model I tested starts at $57000
0-100 Km/H 4.9s
Combined WLTP Range
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