8.0/10Score

Score breakdown

8.0

Safety, value and features

8.5

Comfort and space

7.5

Engine and gearbox

8.0

Ride and handling

8.0

Technology

Things we like

  • Excellent ride and handling balance
  • Unique and uncompromising design
  • Value for money

Not so much

  • No VZ5 for RHD markets
  • Temp control needs illumination

8.0/10Score

Score breakdown

8.0

Safety, value and features

8.5

Comfort and space

7.5

Engine and gearbox

8.0

Ride and handling

8.0

Technology

Things we like

  • Excellent ride and handling balance
  • Unique and uncompromising design
  • Value for money

Not so much

  • No VZ5 for RHD markets
  • Temp control needs illumination

Cupra’s intriguing trio of sporty Euro models has only just touched down on Australian soil but I am already familiar with and very fond of two-thirds of it.

A year ago, I got my hands on the range-topping Leon 300 (dubbed VZx locally) and it proved to be one of the most involving and exhilarating hot hatches for blasting around the English countryside, enjoying the autumn sun.

Some weeks later I saddled up the plug-in hybrid version of the Formentor for a 1200km road trip from Rome to the South of Sardinia and back again. For my second Cupra encounter, the small SUV was both practical and efficient but also an absolute hoot when the roads turned twisty.

Cupra is pitching itself as an unpretentious alternative to the traditional European brands without compromising on features or performance – a brief it has aced in both previous meetings.

Its third challenge is arguably the toughest – a first outing on Australian roads for the Formentor VZx in full local specification.

In Cupra’s native Europe, the Formentor range is offered with a somewhat baffling choice of 10 different powertrains, further complicated by several trim levels to select beyond the engine and transmission options. Thankfully, the Australian range is much simpler with an entry-level V, mid-range VZ petrol and VZe plug-in hybrid, plus the high-performance VZx at the top of the pack.

For the Formentor fan with a tighter budget, the most affordable version has a 140kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol with all-wheel drive and a $50,690 price, while the VZ also has a 2.0-litre – but with 180kW/370Nm outputs and front-wheel drive for $53,790.

The VZ’s plug-in sibling produces a total of 180kW and 400Nm from its 1.4-litre and electric combination for $60,990 (all prices before on-road costs).

Stretch to $61,990 however (or $66,990 drive-away), and you’ll get a version that opens the EA888 engine’s taps to 228kW and 400Nm, sending it all to the road via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and all-wheel drive.

Those appealing performance figures put the Formentor VZx in contention with other performance-focused small SUVs such as the Audi SQ2, BMW X2 M35i and Mercedes-AMG GLA35, all of which produce comparable power and torque. However, this triplet of rivals costs between eight and 33 per cent more than the Cupra.

On paper, therefore, the Formentor stacks up nicely ,but its equation makes even more sense when it’s let loose on Australian roads.

Even before boarding, the top-shelf Cupra is earning points. Unlike some other awkward little SUVs, the Formentor’s proportions are adult and handsome, while its styling is striking without being ostentatious.

This particular example is garnished with trademark copper exterior highlights including the optional four-pot Brembo front calipers and finished in a gorgeous Petrol Blue Matte paint that could easily double as Bruce Wayne’s evening attire.

Inside, the flagship cabin is decked out in a similarly tasteful but unusual dark blue leather highlighted by more copper touches such as upholstery piping, air vents and steering wheel badge. All versions of the Formentor are equipped with sporty bucket seats and the ergonomics are as good as they look.

The driving position is purposeful with plenty of legroom for taller drivers and a posture that feels low and reclined thanks to plenty of steering wheel adjustment.

The driving position is purposeful with plenty of legroom for taller drivers and a posture that feels low and reclined thanks to plenty of steering wheel adjustment.

For a model with relatively diminutive dimensions and an almost coupe-like roofline, the Formentor is surprisingly practical.

There’s adequate headroom in the second row and even a 420-litre boot at the back (the VZ gets an even bigger 450L while the VZe forfeits some space for its battery at 345L).

It’s worth taking some time to fully appreciate the Formentor’s cabin before a maiden voyage because design is one of Cupra’s two key points of difference. It may have underpinnings very closely related to a couple of other models in the VW Group family, but you certainly can’t easily tell from the interior.

The odd switch has a familiar feel to it, as does the gear selector, but the overall design is quite unique to the brand.

We particularly liked the sporty and elegant steering wheel, as well as the angular dash design with its cool continuous pinstripe of LED light that doubles as a blind-spot warning in the regions nearest the door mirrors.

Also familiar to the MQB Evo family is the 10.3-inch digital driver’s cluster but, like the huge central touchscreen, it’s filled with graphics that are unlike anything in sister brand models.

One unfortunate carryover is the solid-state temperature controls that are fiddly and don’t illuminate at night, but we can forgive that for the excellent 12-inch touchscreen function above it.

In all variants, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported, as is wireless device charging.

Other than the more highly tuned engine, the range-topping VZx gets 19-inch wheels, hands-free power tailgate, quad exhausts, leather seats with matching Petrol Blue dash, a top-level Beats sound system, the sportiest steering wheel and a 360-degree parking camera.

But about that engine. The EA888 is one of the most prolific in the VW Group range and as a result, the way the Formentor VZx performs is familiar. Acceleration is strong with minimal turbo lag from a start and none detectable in-gear.

The EA888 is one of the most prolific in the VW Group range and as a result, the way the Formentor VZx performs is familiar.

It’s bolted to a seven-speed dual-clutch auto that can be a little reluctant to drop a gear or two in the default driving mode but is eager and enthusiastic in Sport and above.

More conducive to prompt progress is not the 228kW of power at 5450rpm but the wave of torque that comes in at just 2000rpm and lasts all the way to where peak power starts.

Effortlessly maintaining momentum, the VZx is endowed with a linear power and torque delivery that’s accompanied by satisfying exhaust burbles when in the sportiest Cupra drive mode. We’re not so keen on the augmented sound that comes into the cabin via the speakers though.

Even more impressive is the second of Cupra’s unique propositions. With such familiar drivetrains, the company has less scope to stand out with the way its models go in a straight line, but how they behave in corners is a different matter.

Along with its unorthodox but likeable aesthetics, Cupra is also clearly trying to dominate the chassis and steering realm – and winning.

Like the version I piloted from Olbia in Sardinia’s north to Cagliari at the southern end, the VZx has beautifully sweet steering with a lightness that doesn’t come at a cost to feel. There’s no adaptive technology, but the ‘progressive’ rack loads up nicely away from dead ahead as the ratio increases.

Positioning the Formentor on the road is precise and rewarding, which combined with the traction from its variable AWD system, provides the confidence to push hard. Beyond outright power, the other key difference is weight.

While the VZx must lug around the requisite hardware to drive its rear wheels, it does away with a 125kg battery and the result is a kerb weight that drops from 1708kg to 1650kg compared with the VZe.

The deft chassis tuning at each corner completes the dynamic picture. Initial firmness at low speed becomes more compliant as velocities rise and even relatively large imperfections do not translate into cabin discomfort.

Despite that, there’s minimal body roll, the Formentor holds a solid line through tight bends and recovers well from mid-corner bumps.

It doesn’t take long to realise that the Formentor could easily handle more punch than its 2.0-litre dispatches and perhaps the only negative from this second meeting is that it serves as a reminder that right-hand drive markets won’t be getting the delicious five-cylinder VZ5 and its full 287kW fury.

That said, the VZx doesn’t feel like a poor cousin. It’ll still do the zero to 100km/h dash in 4.9 seconds and has the manners of a bonafide hi-po SUV that will certainly be stealing attention from rival premium brands.

So should you consider the Formentor flagship over one of its direct competitors from Audi, BMW and Mercedes? Absolutely. Not only will it save you cash regardless of the rival model, its dynamics are superior and you’re far less likely to see another on the road – for now. Subjectively, it’s also the most mature interpretation of aggressive small SUV design.

There are, however, a couple of rivals that upset the Formentor’s almost perfect score card.

If performance on a budget is king, then the Volkswagen T-Roc R offers almost the same muscle for a saving of more than $2000, and while the Hyundai Kona N has just two driven wheels, it does offer comparable power and torque for about a $15,000 less than the Cupra.

Answering that trickier question is going to require a bit more thought, so watch this space…

In the meantime though, the high-performance SUV market has a new, highly compelling contender in its ranks.

Cupra has some work to do in convincing Australia’s pragmatic car buyers that it’s worth a shot – guaranteed future value and transparent drive-away pricing policies will certainly help that cause – but this third close encounter proves that Cupra has a well-deserved place Down Under.

Now, what about that Ateca?

2022 Cupra Formentor VZx specifications

Model Cupra Formentor VZx
Engine 1984cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo
Max power 228kW @ 5450-6500rpm
Max torque 400Nm @2000-5450rpm
Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Weight 1650kg
0-100km/h 4.9s (claimed)
Economy 7.7L/100km
Price $61,990 + on-road costs ($66,990 drive-away)
On sale now

COMMENTS

NEWS RELATED

CUPRA y Mikakus crean estos tenis

CUPRA y Mikakus crean estos tenis CUPRA se unió a la marca Mikakus para crear un par de tenis fabricados con materiales reciclados y con un diseño inspirado en el barrio barcelonés de El Born.   De esta forma, estos tenis Mikakus x CUPRA Born presentan el mismo enfoque ...

View more: CUPRA y Mikakus crean estos tenis

Cupra Born review: Bringing hot hatch attitude to the electric family car segment

The Curpa Born is the first purely electric car from the Spanish performance brand and, like the , is unique to the marque rather than being a rebadged Seat. Cupra says it is the perfect match between electrification and performance, using the proven VW Group MEB platform but with ...

View more: Cupra Born review: Bringing hot hatch attitude to the electric family car segment

A Cupra sdraio e ombrelloni sequestrati

Saranno smaltite dalla Picenambiente le attrezzature sequestrate dalla capitaneria di porto sulle spiagge di Cupra durante la stagione estiva. Ci sono persone che ignorano il regolamento per la gestione del demanio marittimo, che prevede il divieto, dal tramonto all’alba, di lasciare nelle spiagge libere, ombrelloni, sedie a sdraio, tende e ...

View more: A Cupra sdraio e ombrelloni sequestrati

Mini Clubman JCW, Cupra Formentor VZ, Peugeot 508 PSE i BMW M240i: TEST

Samochody o sportowych osiągach wcale nie muszą być egzotycznymi coupé z centralnie umieszczonym silnikiem. Oto bardzo szybkie auta, które znakomicie sprawdzą się na co dzień: Mini Clubman JCW, Cupra Formentor VZ, Peugeot 508 PSE oraz BMW M240i. Samochody typowo sportowe są ciasne, ich utrzymanie kosztuje krocie, jazda nimi nie jest komfortowa, a cena ...

View more: Mini Clubman JCW, Cupra Formentor VZ, Peugeot 508 PSE i BMW M240i: TEST

CUPRA: Ο Σπύρος Χρυσικόπουλος κολύμπησε από τη Ρόδο μέχρι το Καστελλόριζο

CUPRA: Ο Σπύρος Χρυσικόπουλος κολύμπησε από τη Ρόδο μέχρι το Καστελλόριζο Η CUPRA Τεχνοκάρ συγχαίρει ολόψυχα τον Έλληνα κολυμβητή υπέρ-αποστάσεων Σπύρο Χρυσικόπουλο, ο οποίος ολοκλήρωσε με επιτυχία το ασύλληπτο κολυμβητικό εγχείρημα να κολυμπήσει από τη Ρόδο μέχρι το Καστελλόριζο. Η προσπάθεια ολοκληρώθηκε με απόλυτη επιτυχία, αφού ο Σπύρος Χρυσικόπουλος ...

View more: CUPRA: Ο Σπύρος Χρυσικόπουλος κολύμπησε από τη Ρόδο μέχρι το Καστελλόριζο

Cupra Born long-term test review: report 5

When we first tested the Cupra Born we were so impressed that we named it Small Electric Car of the Year. But does it continue to impress when you live with it every day?...

View more: Cupra Born long-term test review: report 5

Gama CUPRA Formentor: un SUV deportivo para todos los públicos

G8iWranVSe4 Desde un modelo con 150 CV para el día a día, hasta un PHEV con etiqueta 0 o un deportivo único con 390 CV: el Formentor lo tiene todo. Desde su lanzamiento como marca independiente, allá por el año 2018, sin duda, el CUPRA Formentor ha sido el ...

View more: Gama CUPRA Formentor: un SUV deportivo para todos los públicos

La Dea bendata bacia Cupra: vinti 200mila euro

Compra un grattino ’Fai 13’ da 5 euro e porta a casa 200mila euro. E’ accaduto nella tabaccheria Massarenti, in piazza della Libertà, accanto al comune di Cupra Marittima, dove la Dea bendata ultimamente sta facendo diverse soste interessanti. Dopo i 10mila euro con un Gratta e Vinci da 1 ...

View more: La Dea bendata bacia Cupra: vinti 200mila euro

Cupra Leon, la alternativa para los que desean lo deportivo

El Cupra León le arrebata el motor 1.5 TSI de 150 CV al SEAT León

Cupra León de 150 CV: nueva versión de acceso

Πώς θα μοιάζει και πότε θα κατασκευαστεί το Cupra Tavascan;

Cupra León: El deportivo compacto español se refuerza con nuevos motores

Cupra Leon. Nowe wersje silnikowe

Cupra Leon ze słabszym silnikiem w podstawie. Kompakt dostał 1.5 TSI

Cupra tem a fórmula para nos fazer apaixonar em apenas sete segundos

Mit dem Cupra Formentor zum Cap de Formentor

mReview: 2022 SEAT Ibiza - The CUPRA-lite Experience

Cupra Leon hot hatch now available with 148bhp and 187bhp engines

Cupra Leon gets new engines, manual gearbox and V1 trim level

OTHER NEWS

Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network