Shut up! Please don’t say it! The Cupra Formentor is not a SEAT!
By some coincidence (?), the name’ Cupra’ is the same word that the Spanish branch of the VAG group used to use for its sportier versions of their everyday cars.
So, actually, not a coincidence, just the fact that the Formentor (the start-off car in the Cupra story) is a Cupra, not a sporty SUV by SEAT.
As it happens, the Cupra Formentor is not un-sporty. To drive, it is on a par with anything in its class.
There are a variety of engines to choose from in the range. The test car had the 1.5-litre, 150PS unit commonplace across the Volkswagen, Audi, Škoda and SEAT brands. In the Formentor, the performance was as might be expected: perfectly able to allow quiet cruising at 60 or 70 mph and the ability to launch a bit of a growl as you overtake anyone trying to qualify for the National Slow-driving Championship.
There is probably not a single new car on the road that can be criticised for any issues with steering, handling or braking, so no complaints whatsoever with this Cupra: there is so much preventative technology on board, as is the norm these days, that it would take some sort of idiocy for a Formentor driver to get his or her car off the straight and narrow and that is simply not the profile of anyone who buys this car.
Basically, it is a family car, with a comfortable ride on offer for the driver, front-seat passenger and the two in the back…maybe three in the back if they are children. And those in the back have their own heating controls, part of the car’s three-zone aircon system, along with two USB ports for the inevitable device that, well anything that keeps their eyes away from the tiresome process of just enjoying the view (OK, a touch cynical here). Connectivity is up to par.
The Formentor has a spacious boot that can be easily extended into a long, flat floor in a jiffy by folding the rear seats forward. Further storage for smaller items is available under the boot floor because there is a space for a spare wheel taken up only by a puncture repair pressure spray and associated tools.
The test car is the most basic Formentor V1 version, which lacked such luxuries as a tailgate that could be shut remotely, and electrically adjustable seat positions; at first, this felt a touch surprising for this new, apparently more-upmarket car. However, priced at £29,705, the additional money for the V2, with its various extras, the monthly payments that most car-buyers use would comfortably absorb the cost; there’s your answer: go up to the higher trim. This also could include not just rear, but front parking sensors, there is quite a bit of bonnet in front look over.
The Formentor is particularly smart inside. The copper stitching is classy; the 12-inch navigation system adds to the impression (I still have to moan about not having instant one-touch route guidance cancellation); and the pencil-thin ambient lighting strip that extends from door to door right across the dashboard is a particularly impressive, but not overwhelming, feature in night-time driving.
The list of safety systems and driver-assistance features is impressively long. A minor niggle, and this is by no means unique to this car: if, for example, you don’t want to have an audio reminder to ‘please keep to the middle of the lane’ that’s part of the lane guidance system, and you get into the computer sequence to cancel this (which is not a good thing while you are actually driving), then the next time you start the engine, your command will have become history; these systems should remain as you have put them and not defaulted back.
The instrument binnacle has five different ‘views’ on offer. So far, so good; but, once again (is it just me?), for no obvious reason, on all views, the map would not go away after I had managed to stop the route guidance. Pulling over and switching the ignition off restored normality.
The instruments themselves were simple and clear and included that pleasing feature where the red dot marking the speed limit is automatically put in place at 30, 40, 50 mph, whatever and extends up the speedometer if you exceed the limit. I would have liked fractions of a mile and not just complete miles to be displayed on trip info.
The Cupra Formentor assembled in Spain (s-s-s-h-h: just like SEATs), overall it seemed to be nicely put together and well built. It was noticeable on the test car when it was slowing to a standstill that it sounded as though the wheel bearings could have done with a squirt of grease.
Nonetheless, the verdict is that this Cupra is undoubtedly another worthy competitor in its field.
Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.
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