Long-term tests

Cupra Formentor V1: long-term test review

First report: we ask questions of the new Cupra Formentor – the brand’s first standalone model

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Verdict

Cupra’s first standalone model has made a good start. It’s practical enough for our uses, stylish and just about quick enough. The kit list looks impressively long for a car that comes in at around 30 grand, too.

  • Mileage: 5,083
  • Economy: 40.3mpg

When is an SUV not really an SUV? And when is a Cupra not really a SEAT? These and other mysteries will hopefully be solved over the coming months, as I probe a bit more deeply into the qualities of the latest car on our fleet, the Cupra Formentor.

Up to now, you see, everything that’s come out of SEAT’s “premium” brand has been, well, a derivative of an existing model, like the Ateca and the Leon. But with the Formentor, the Cupra badge finally gets a vehicle all to itself. And, you could argue, a bodystyle, because whereas the Ateca is very much a conventional SUV, the Formentor really is like a jacked-up family hatch, and quite a swoopy one with it.

Initial impressions were very favourable indeed when the Formentor arrived on my driveway. It’s very striking, particularly in our car’s Desire Red paint job and sitting on 18-inch alloy wheels. The bodystyle really pulls the cabin back in the profile, extending the bonnet and giving it that elusive “coupé-SUV” look.

As a brand, Cupra has priced its cars to sit somewhere north of VW but south of Audi, and sure enough, you can run a Formentor up to comfortably clear of £40,000 if you want. But our road testers suggested that the entry point to the range, V1 trim, could actually be something of a bargain, so that’s what we’ve gone for.

My car has the VW Group’s well regarded 1.5-litre petrol engine, producing 148bhp and 250Nm of torque, linked to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. It costs from £29,805, which seems a pretty reasonable figure for this size of family car.

It wouldn’t be so appealing if Cupra had scrimped on standard kit, admittedly, but then, V1 really does bring almost all of the basics. Apart from those 18-inch wheels, our car comes with three-zone air-conditioning (including a control panel in the rear that is already helping me to avoid family arguments), LED headlights and tail-lights, a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel, a 12-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless smartphone charging, sports seats, rear parking sensors, auto wipers and adaptive cruise control.

You even get interior ambient lighting, including the option to change the colour via the central touchscreen. So my car’s only option is the aforementioned paintjob, which, as one of the “premium” finishes in the line-up, costs a little bit more than most shades, at £810. It’s worth it, I’d say.

Performance is acceptable, rather than brisk, with the Formentor clocking up a 0-62mph time of 8.9 seconds. But then, this is a family SUV, so it’s quick enough. In any case, I’m probably keener to see how many miles I get to the gallon on longer motorway runs. At least the 1.5-litre motor can switch off two cylinders to help save a bit of fuel.

Thoughts from early outings? You get an awful lot of looks in the Formentor, and if you’re parked up, people tend to ask, “Is it still a SEAT?”, before conceding that the reason for their curiosity is that they like the styling, regardless of the brand.

Inside, there is a mix of proven VW Group parts, but it’s well laid out, and while there are some hard surfaces, in general it’s nicely finished. The Formentor’s ride is a teeny bit firm, perhaps – I wouldn’t want the larger 19-inch wheels that are available – but the Cupra handles most surfaces well, and the light steering and decent body control make driving down B-roads fun.

The boot swallows my camera gear without complaint, but the jury’s still out on a full family trip; we’ve a holiday to Scotland coming up, so that could well be the Formentor’s first true test.

Model:Cupra Formentor 1.5 TSI 150 DSG V1
On fleet since:August 2021
Price new:£29,805
Engine:1.5-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 148bhp
CO2/tax:151g/km/£155
Options:Metallic paint (£810) 
Insurance*:Group: 19 Quote: £526
Mileage:5,083
Economy:40.3mpg
Any problems?None so far

*Insurance quote from Admiral (admiral.com) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Most Popular

New 2022 Range Rover arrives with plug-in hybrid power and seven seats
Range Rover - front
Land Rover Range Rover

New 2022 Range Rover arrives with plug-in hybrid power and seven seats

The new Range Rover luxury SUV has been unveiled with two PHEV powertrains and seven-seat capability
27 Oct 2021
New Kia EV6 2021 review
Kia EV6 front tracking
Kia EV6

New Kia EV6 2021 review

With a sporty drive, 300-plus miles of range and plenty of tech - could the new Kia EV6 be one of the best electric cars on sale?
19 Oct 2021
The best 0% finance car deals 2021
Best 0% finance car deals - header
Best cars & vans

The best 0% finance car deals 2021

Tempted by a 0% APR deal? Here are our best 0% finance deals starting from only £145...
21 Oct 2021