Cupra surprised the car world 2020 by stepping on to a sidewalk from Seat to stand on their own feets in the automotive industry. Seat is still the mothership and will provide most of the technological aspects which will be found under the Cupra’s skin. Cupra’s aim always was to deliver cars with sporty looks and handling like it was originally intended. (Cupra = Cup Racer)
Let’s find out if Cupra still remains to their roots.
Cupra brought the copper accents as a recognizable element for their newly launched brand which can be found on all cars of their fleet. In my opinion Cupra hits the nail with the head. Copper seems to be arriving, people like it a lot. And I’m sort of a fan, too. Except for the copper and matte black colour scheme on the wheels and the fake copper exhaust tips I strongly wished to be real ones! But that might vary between everyone. I’m just here to give my own opinion.
But all in all, the Formentor has some very attractive and bold body lines all over which supplies optical sportiness. All visible body panels are painted to have a richer look and does upgrade the Formentor from most of the standard goods. The proportions feel spot on and very precisely chosen. The optionally available paintjob called “Graphene Grey” will set you back an extra 1’150 Swiss Francs and is absolutely worth it. First because it looks pretty coherent with the copper details and second it is a colour which somehow manages to hide the dirt and filth. In other words: A very thankful colour during winter months. So thumps up on that!
Buyers who search for the latest technology might get very happy with the latest tech which can be found in the interior. I was impressed how many options the virtual cockpit has to offer. There’s something for everyone for sure!
The steering wheel looks futuristic and houses a huge number of buttons. Too many for my taste. But you get used to it quickly.
Onto the infotainment system: You’re able to connect to the car with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. But my issue was that the car only twice recognized my phone as an iPhone to use Apple CarPlay. It just didn’t work like it should which wasn’t that great. It either worked with USB-connection! I tried it so many times you won’t even believe me. While thinking about it, the major problem could be the fact that I haven’t downloaded the Cupra App. But I’m not sure if downloading the app solves that problem.
The sport seats are comfortable and provide enough side support and come with heating functions. But surprisingly it is not possible to heat both seats on full heat at the same time! It always kicked out the heating for my passenger.
One thing I noticed is that the adaptive cruise control (ACC) is not really sophisticated and recognizes road signs which it should not. It happened multiple times on the motorway where the ACC “saw” the exit’s signs and braked the car immediately in floating traffic! This should not happen at all. In addition, driving the regular 120kmph on the Swiss Autobahn it happened that the ACC started to slowly decrease the pace down to (sometimes) 90kmph (in my opinion) without any reason. No cars in front, no road signs passed. That left some huge question marks in my head. And dear reader: If you know what I did wrong, feel free to leave a comment.
More questions marks left me the fact that the cruise control is only able to adjust the speed in 10kmph steps. 10kmph steps! At least 5kmph steps would have been nice… Otherwise you need to set your pace manually every time.
The breaks didn’t feel that responsive I wished them to be. It felt very plushy with a lack of connectivity to the road.
In contrast to the negatives, what I want to mention is the very great and agile feeling suspension which makes a fantastic job! It works well on alpine roads and isn’t too stiff for long distance road trips. Speaking of road trips: I guess that’s what the Formentor is about to do the best.
Even though the car is an undefinable mix between a hot-hatch, coupé and crossover, its size is about to hit that sweet spot between family hauler and daily usable companion. So basically, a Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake with a lifted cabin.
I read people complaining about the Hybrid’s lack of power (245hp combined). They thought that the 1.4L Hybrid version is too slow. I totally disagree on this opinion! If you properly keep in mind what Cupra intended to bring onto the market with the 1.4L Hybrid, you can 100% understand why it can’t keep up with an Audi RS3 or similar. But the car isn’t slow at all. The car has way enough power to deliver. Otherwise, you just need to buy the more powerful versions like the recently launched Formentor VZ5 with the famous Audi 5 cylinder engine coming out of the RS3 and RS Q3.
What it’s all about
Well, that is the big question I am a bit worry about to answer. Cupra needed to decrease their fleet emissions due to the always stricter regulations set by the governments. So, I think that this Hybrid Formentor somehow is a political sacrifice. The Plug-In-Hybrid system does its job on short drives. But not on long trips. The battery is only capable to deliver electricity for the first 50km in full e-Mode. Or helps to have a low average fuel consumption in the first 100-150 kilometers until the battery is completely empty. Therefor I guess you aren’t willing to stop every 150km to charge the car up during 4 hours on a regular charging station. To be honest I didn’t try a fast charger so no information about that.
So, imagine driving further than 100km, the 1.4 litre engine consumes approximately 7.0-8.5 litres of gasoline every 100km. And there’s the next problem already coming up. Cupra and the bord computer itself claims you’re reaching a combined distance of over 500km. Believe me that this won’t happen. I experienced it by myself. And I’m not driving like a Hoonigan at all. It was 100% average and calm driving and most of the time on motorways. That really disappointed me.
To the interior
The copper-coloured scheme can be found in the interior as well. Great materials all over the place to distance Cupra from Volkswagen. I can approve that the materials feel way better than they do in the new Golf 8 GTI I recently had a seat in. So, you get a better value interior in the Formentor compared to the motherbrand Volkswagen. The touchable speaker and temperature adjustments are fussy. I might be a bit old-school right now, but I think that turning knobs would solve that problem and are way more intuitive.
Otherwise the interior is a great place to be for short and long-distance travelling. The seats are comfortable and provide enough lateral support. Although the Formentor is a rather small crossover, it has plenty of space and practicality compared to its size.
Now what to buy
I think the Formentor might be a good car for non-car-people anyway beside all the negative points I wrote about. You definitely get much car for the money you’re about to spend. If you’re up and 100% sure to buy a Formentor, I highly recommend the 1.4 eHybrid (pHEV) VZ (245 PS) to buyers who rarely drive long distances. Otherwise, the 2.0 TSI VZ (245PS as well) version might do its job great, too. And if you need more power there are still the 310PS variant or the VZ5 with the famous Audi RS3 5-cylinder engine. Costs a fortune. Still cheaper than the new RS3, but less sporty. The two latest mentioned versions might come closer to the Cupra’s roots of building sporty cars. And that is where the Cupra fans narratives are at home.
To end this review I wanted to thank Cupra Switzerland for the opportunity to test drive their Formentor Hybrid version for an extended weekend.