ROAD TEST: Cupra Formentor – the future for SEAT

Within large groups like Volkswagen Audi it is arguably more difficult to differentiate between models within the same corporate garage. SEAT found the answer though with the Cupra range, indeed the name SEAT will in due course no longer grace any motor vehicles as the brand completely merges into Cupra. Originally Cupra were the sports orientated models within the SEAT line-up, but the name then became a separate brand. The SEAT name will disappear completely in the near future.

While some Cupras are very obviously SEAT models the Spanish carmaker has increasingly produced individual models unique to the Cupra brand. The Formentor was the first such model and even though 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 with 310PS of performance and four-wheel-drive it lives up to the soundtrack.

Prices start from £32,030 and much of the kit in the top-of-the-range versions finds its way into the lead-in models too. There’s a 12” touchscreen, full matrix LED lighting, auto-dimming rear view mirror, cornering lights, wireless phone charging, adaptive cruise control, heated steering wheel 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 over time would 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 £48,310 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 the VZ3 4Drive handles extremely well for such a large machine, with sports suspension and all-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.

Words by Mark Slack

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