RE: 2021 Cupra Formentor | UK Review

RE: 2021 Cupra Formentor | UK Review

Saturday 31st October 2020

2021 Cupra Formentor | Review

Cupra's first bespoke model delivers familiar ingredients in a new package. Is it enough?



Not even Cupra is trying to hide the fact that what’s going on in its first brand-exclusive model is by and large familiar. The Formentor gets a unique look and some new features, but the 310hp range-topper also inherits components like the EA888 four-cylinder motor and MQB underpinnings from the wider VW Group. Its maker insists that it is the Formentor’s unique blend of these constituent parts, along with some bespoke extras on top, that create a machine capable of appealing to a customer base not yet catered for by its stablemates. 

The gap it is aiming for seems to get smaller by the day. Where’s a youthful, 310hp crossover priced just below £40k supposed to go when there is a T-Roc R? Or a Cupra Ateca? The answer, unsurprisingly, lies in the details: the Formentor is lower and wider than the VW Group's other crossovers, while being 62mm shorter than even the T-Roc. Its look is more jacked-up hot hatch than downsized SUV, and its character is intended to fit to that description.

Things get off to a good start. Inside, it’s smartly designed with high quality materials on the touch points. While there are familiar buttons and the same small but tactile gear selector now deployed elsewhere, there are Cupra-specific bits too like very supportive sports seats and a new interface for the infotainment system. In fact, the menus are a strong point for the Formentor; no doubt the back-end stuff is unchanged, but the experience of flicking through the pages and tweaking the car’s settings is enhanced by a better-looking front end. It’s neatly laid out, too, and quickly becomes intuitive to use. Scoff if you like but it's important stuff, given the model’s target audience. 


The old school measurables are good, too. The seating position features a lower hip point than you'd typically find in a VW Group crossover - not hatchback low, but closer to the ground than you'd be in a T-Roc or Ateca. Press the wheel-mounted start button and the engine fires up with a surprisingly bassy rumble, almost certainly thanks to synthesised notes playing through the speakers, but it does at least signal the Formentor’s intent. You have to press the other wheel-mounted button with the Cupra logo to select a quieter drive mode.

This being a sort-of crossover, you’re given a ‘terrain’ setting (which gets hill descent control), alongside ‘road’ and ’sport’ and the more aggressive ‘Cupra’ mode. Predictably, there’s also ‘Individual’ which allows practically any combination of damper, powertrain, steering and engine tone. Opt for the quickest end and you get an all-wheel drive car capable of hitting 62mph in 4.9 seconds. Which is not too shabby.


There’s no questioning that off-the-line time, although when rolling the Formentor doesn’t initially feel as quick as the output suggests. Despite 295lb ft available from 2,000-5,450rpm, in this 1.6-tonne application the normally willing engine asks for more revs before you’re really shifting. The rate of acceleration builds in unison with its revs, and the seven-speed dual-clutch is (as ever) obligingly quick - even if you do the job yourself via (loud applause) much larger shift paddles than the VW Group typically deigns to fit. It all feels authentic, too, because there is no crackle and pop fakery from the exhausts, just the occasional quick clearing of throat off-throttle beside the usual EA888 drone.

There’s much to like about the way the Formentor goes down a road, too. The suspension keeps the moderately tall body under tight control in all drive modes without ever letting the ride quality get overly brittle. It’s so good, in fact, that once out of an urban setting (Milton Keynes in this case; ignore the press pics), PH never ventured lower than ‘sport’ on the DCC dial. The chassis permits a judicious amount of roll through corners, so you can begin to feel it load up, which helps to disguise the customary absence of steering feel. This is useful because Cupra has kept the Formentor’s limits in surprisingly easy reach. 


Which is obviously not to say that it pushes dramatically on in corners or becomes wildly unstable; it’s fully capable of keeping up with some serious commitment. But clearly the handling is tuned to indulge some tinkering with the car's balance. Go into a bend on throttle and there’s a smidge of safety understeer; hammer in off throttle and it'll flick toward the apex; do the same with a trailed brake and even you'll provoke a modest four-wheel drift. It’s safe, smartly enjoyable stuff.

Affirmation that this playfulness isn’t there by accident is evidenced by a prominent ESP button on the transmission tunnel, just ahead of the gear selector. Pressing it quickly engages the ‘sport’ setting, which allows for quite a lot of slip on both axles before intervening. Or you can hold it down and switch it out completely. The brake pedal is nicely modulated, too, and there’s no shortage of accuracy in the steering or bump absorption in the springs. It makes for a lot of confidence on UK roads.

As Cupra was hoping it might, the Formentor adds up to roughly the sum of its parts. It's seemingly well put together, comfortable and with five adult-accomodating seats and a 420-litre boot, as practical as it needs to be. Nothing about it is necessarily going to set your hair on fire, but it does begin to win you over with its rounded way of doing things . That feeling is no less familiar than it was in the VW Group products we’ve already mentioned, but the modest step away from them is just about noticeable in the Formentor's modified way of doing things. That's good news for both it and Cupra in general - it suggests that there might be more to come from a brand required to carve its own path with borrowed tools.


CUPRA FORMENTOR | SPECIFICATION

Engine: 1,984cc, 4-cyl, turbocharged
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 310@5,450-6,600rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295@2,000-5,450rpm
0-62mph: 4.9sec
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,644kg (including driver)
MPG: 36.6 (WLTP combined)
CO2: 175g/km
Price: £39,830








Author
Discussion

Numeric

Original Poster:

1,395 posts

151 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
The brand proliferation is crazy - and for a company like VAG to bring more brands to the market that will then have to be supported financially? Nuts.

There is good and varied reasons GM got into such a pickle but its diffusion of expertise across so many multiple brands and the costs of differentiation were ludicrous.

And who wants a car you have to explain to people? Its like Polestar at Volvo. Only AMG makes sense to me as a sub-brand but even that may be tricky and I don't know if its worked - I mean Merc struggled with Maybach and if that doesn't work why do others think they can succeed?

FlukePlay

946 posts

145 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
'or sprinting from 50-62 in 6.6 seconds. Which is not too shabby.' Is this right?

GTEYE

2,094 posts

210 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
It doesn’t look like a bad car, but....it’s got zero identity, all the styling cues are exactly Seat, so what’s the point?

Like Maybach which made the same mistakes of looking exactly like a Mercedes with different badges. I think in 5 years Cupra will be back to being a model name rather than a “brand” in its own right.

loskie

5,195 posts

120 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
I quite like it but it's not dissimilar to a GLA or Infinity QX30 in fact very similar to the latter.

With Seat's (sorry Cupra's) discount levels it may be a good buy

I think VAG are missing a trick not utilizing the Skoda brand for such models.

AJB88

12,376 posts

171 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
I said in the other thread, I see often the "I dont see the point in Cupra as they offer nothing different than SEAT" but the truth is you wont be able to buy/lease a SEAT Leon Cupra anymore.

If you want a Leon you buy a SEAT, if you want something with 250ps+ you buy a CUPRA.

Going forwards from now CUPRA will have the following that models which you cant buy as a SEAT;
el Born
Formentor

And then you have the CUPRA version of Ateca, Leon, they did trial an Ibiza but thats been scrapped by the looks of it and the Arona.

I've seen the Foremtor in the flesh and the materials used inside were Audi level, not the usual SEAT level.


Bser16

78 posts

55 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
No idea who would buy this. A sad offering

DoubleD

22,154 posts

108 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
Bser16 said:
No idea who would buy this. A sad offering
Lots will. SUVs are very popular.

GTEYE

2,094 posts

210 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
AJB88 said:
I said in the other thread, I see often the "I dont see the point in Cupra as they offer nothing different than SEAT" but the truth is you wont be able to buy/lease a SEAT Leon Cupra anymore.

If you want a Leon you buy a SEAT, if you want something with 250ps+ you buy a CUPRA.
Or more likely, you won’t, you’ll play it safe and buy a Golf R or an S3 from an established and recognised brand.

DoubleD

22,154 posts

108 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
GTEYE said:
AJB88 said:
I said in the other thread, I see often the "I dont see the point in Cupra as they offer nothing different than SEAT" but the truth is you wont be able to buy/lease a SEAT Leon Cupra anymore.

If you want a Leon you buy a SEAT, if you want something with 250ps+ you buy a CUPRA.
Or more likely, you won’t, you’ll play it safe and buy a Golf R or an S3 from an established and recognised brand.
Seat is an established brand.

HazzaT

457 posts

45 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
So we now have
-Golf R
-Posh Golf R
-Golf R on stilts
-Golf R on bigger stilts
-Posh Golf R on stilts
-Posh Golf R on big stilts
-Spanish Golf R
-Spanish Golf R on stilts
-Spanish Golf R with a bodykit

I mean I'm sure it's a great drivetrain but is this really necessary?

anonymous-user

54 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
That interior is awful, VW and Seat really do love crap plastics.

el romeral

1,047 posts

137 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
FlukePlay said:
'or sprinting from 50-62 in 6.6 seconds. Which is not too shabby.' Is this right?
Could they mean 50-100 kph (=62mph)?


DoubleD

22,154 posts

108 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
HazzaT said:
So we now have
-Golf R
-Posh Golf R
-Golf R on stilts
-Golf R on bigger stilts
-Posh Golf R on stilts
-Posh Golf R on big stilts
-Spanish Golf R
-Spanish Golf R on stilts
-Spanish Golf R with a bodykit

I mean I'm sure it's a great drivetrain but is this really necessary?
People buy them, so yes.

Dynion Araf Uchaf

4,444 posts

223 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
stuff like this should be embraced by car enthusiasts. In a world of EV, hybrid and tightening regs on both cars and driving, the fact that VW group are pumping out 'performance' models should be applauded. All manufacturers should be compelled to do the same...

MountainsofSussex

283 posts

186 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
I'm now totally lost on which VAG crossover is which. They all have similar proportions and similar faces (and similarly steep prices). Is this one the Polo size or the Golf size?

Gameface

16,565 posts

77 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
I like it.

the_hood

770 posts

194 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
Dynion Araf Uchaf said:
stuff like this should be embraced by car enthusiasts...
Why? It's not as if it's a stripped out track car or a V8 powered coupe.

AndrewNR

267 posts

122 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
FlukePlay said:
'or sprinting from 50-62 in 6.6 seconds. Which is not too shabby.' Is this right?
My mind is telling me no
But my body, my body's telling me yes

simon-tigjs

129 posts

97 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
Is it a Hyundai, is it a Jag is it a Kia.... I've lost the will to live. Where has car design gone. Do they all buy a template and rub bits off it and colour bits in.
Utterly boring

DamnKraut

458 posts

99 months

Saturday 31st October 2020
quotequote all
Is there a thread running for stty car names? Strong contender, this Fermented PoS. Mouth breathers will love the matte paint and tacky wheels - no need to give it an expensive wrap and stick aftermarket wheels on it.