The CUPRA efficiency brand sets out on its own with the Formentor, a dynamic Spanish take on the mid-sized performance SUV idea. My Car solutions takes a look.
This is more like it. When in 2018, Spanish maker SEAT announced that CUPRA would end up being a stand-alone brand, we were first provided merely an efficiency version of the Iberian maker's Ateca Crossover. This Formentor model, in contrast, is a completely new style - well almost anyway. It does share a platform and some mechanicals with the Ateca, but whatever else feels much more bespoke. You'll probably know the 'CUPRA' name, however only as a stylish trim designation that returns to 1996, given that when it's been utilized on an entire string of SEAT Ibiza and Leon hot hatches. Now, SEAT wants CUPRA to mean more, developing, in its words, 'a variety of distinct, sophisticated performance designs designed to mesmerize car lovers.' The concept here, states the company, is 'to produce vehicles not founded in fond memories but rooted in the present'. Presumably, that's meant to be a dig at straight competing brand names like Alfa Romeo and MINI, both of which produce products this Formentor model sets out to straight target: particularly, quick, charismatic petrol-powered mid-sized SUVs, vehicles that offer a great deal of what you get in, state, a Porsche Macan for a lot less money. Is that what we've got here? Let's discover.
It needs to be no surprise given CUPRA's mantra as an efficiency brand that drive characteristics are the Formentor's main focus. And it comes well geared up for the task, the fastest version utilizing the Volkswagen Group's 2.0-litre TSI turbo 4 cylinder engine in its most ballistic state of tune, with 310PS on tap. There's also a 190PS version of this exact same system - and a 150PS entry-level 1.5-litre petrol TSI powerplant. Plug-in Hybrids likewise feature, a 1.4-litre unit available in either 204PS or 245PS types, the engine assisted by an 85kW electrical motor powered by a 13kWh battery pack which, when fully charged, uses an all-electric WLTP-rated driving variety of 31 miles. The leading Formentor variant gets 'DCC' 'Dynamic Chassis Control' adaptive damping as basic, activated through the vehicle's four drive mode settings - 'Comfort', 'Sport', 'CUPRA' and 'Individual'. Drive is via the usual VW Group 7-speed dual-clutch paddleshift automobile transmission. Is it fast sufficient to be categorized as a 'Performance SUV'?; extremely absolutely. In the 310PS 2.0-litre turbo version, 62mph from rest flashes by in just 4.9 s and the Formentor needs to be restrained by a piece of speed limiting software application at 155mph. Just like the other VW Group models using this engine, an on0demand 4WD system's standard, this set-up able to decide in milliseconds of it requires to send out torque to the rear axle. That's done by means of a multi-plate clutch in between completion of the propshaft and the rear diff.
DESIGN AND BUILD
The Formentor sits a little bit lower than a lot of other performance SUVs and Crossovers. In fact, it's a complete 150mm lower than the Ateca that it is based on and only 50mm higher than the CUPRA Leon 5 door hatchback. In regards to size, think Volvo XC40 or Audi Q3, however it has more pavement presence than either of those 2 cars, the style emphasis being on a long bonnet, which coupled with the lower height, gives the vehicle a really vibrant look - and one that is completely distinct. Inside there's lots of brushed, dark aluminium with copper accents and blue leather-trimmed front pail seats. In the centre of the dash is a large 12-inch touchscreen infotainment screen that permits the typical access to navigation, information and media. It's coupled with a fully-customisable 10-inch digital instrument binnacle; sitting behind a flat-bottomed wheel that houses both the engine start button and the 'CUPRA' driving mode buttons. There's the typical stubby VW Group auto equipment lever. And a beautiful orange LED strip that circumnavigates the top of the dash, streaming into the doors. The rear seat could comfortably take a number of adults - but 3 would be tight. And out back, there's a competitively-sized 420-litre boot.
MARKET AND MODEL
You'll probably need a budget plan beginning at well over £& pound; 27,000, even for the entry-level 1.5-litre TSI model. Lower versions have 'V1' and 'V2' trim alternatives. The leading 310PS 2.0 TSI 4Drive flagship version sticks to the top 'VZ2', 'VZ3' and 'VZ Edition' trim alternatives, and rates from simply under £& pound; 40,000. The name VZ comes from the word 'Veloz' in Spanish, translating as 'Speed' or 'Fast'. Even with base 'V1' trim, consumers get quite a lot: 18-inch alloy wheels, a 12-inch infotainment touchscreen with connected navigation, a 10-inch digital driver binnacle, LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, Adaptive Cruise Control, a cordless smartphone battery charger, a leather guiding wheel and rear parking sensors. With the 'VZ2', you likewise get 19-inch wheels, a powered tailgate, a heated steering wheel and a rear view electronic camera. From 'VZ2' trim upwards (which, as we stated, means the 310PS 2.0 TSI variants), there's leather upholstery, powered front pail seats, leather trim for the dash and doors. There's also a 'Safety and Driving Pack', which offers you Dynamic road indication screen, High Beam Assist, Side Assist (effectively a blind spot monitor), Exit Assist (offering audible and visual cautions of approaching traffic when opening doors), Lane Change Assist and Emergency Assist. The 'VZ3' adds 19-inch 'Exclusive' copper/black alloy wheels and Brembo brakes.
EXPENSE OF OWNERSHIP
If you truly care about effectiveness in a Performance SUV, then it's to the 'e-HYBRID' Formentor models you'll be looking. We currently discussed that these provide an electric only series of 31 miles on the WLTP cycle. Powering a PHEV CUPRA Formentor up from a domestic socket would take around five hours, however using a garage wallbox, you'll be able to decrease your charging time period to around 3 and a half hours. At the other end of the scale sit the 2.0 TSI 310PS 4Drive versions of this car with their DSG vehicle transmission. These are WLTP-rated at between 31.4 mpg and 33.2 mpg on the combined cycle. The 1.5 TSI handles as much as 44.8 mpg and 143g/km in manual type. Less remarkable is the 3 year/60,000 mile guarantee cover. The paintwork guarantee lasts for three years and, as you 'd expect, this car is safeguarded by a 12-year anti-corrosion plan. The Formentor e-HYBRID has a different eight year battery warranty, which likewise covers the battery for as much as 100,000 miles. For insurance purposes, Thatcham rate the 2.0 TSI DSG-auto 4Drive 310 model in group 33P.
With this Formentor, the story of the CUPRA brand name has at last started in earnest. It's tough to create your own identity when you've invested most of your time assisting to specify efficiency designs from another brand name, in this case SEAT. However with this car, the whole 'Iberian Alfa Romeo' thing starts to make some sort of sense. After all, the Formentor is (potentially) fast, practical, interesting to take a look at and, for the time being anyway, you might even believe it to be a touch unique. Whether you really get what's been promised here - basically a Porsche Macan, a BMW X4 or a Mercedes GLC Coupe distilled down into something more affordable - is a judgement you might in fact rather enjoy making. We're not quite convinced, but we have actually seen adequate to feel confident about the CUPRA brand's future. Can there really be 'latin spirit in every one'? There's a location for it in the market if the marque can provide that.
CUPRA is a name you might be knowledgeable about, however not as a brand name in its own right. It utilized to be simply a badge adorning quick SEATs. Now it's been introduced as a stand-alone marque and its very first item is this mid-sized SUV, the CUPRA Ateca. With 300PS from a 2.0-litre turbo gas engine, it loads a good punch.
For many years, we've been told that Spanish maker SEAT is a kind of 'Iberian Alfa Romeo'. In the CUPRA however, it has an automobile brand with a much more reliable claim to that description. You'll probably understand the name, but only as a stylish trim designation that returns to 1996, given that when it's been used on a whole string of Ibiza and Leon hot hatches. Now, SEAT desires CUPRA to imply more, developing, in its words, 'a variety of unique, sophisticated performance designs developed to mesmerize vehicle enthusiasts.' This of course is just a starting point; no less than seven CUPRA models will be available through the newly formed CUPRA dealership network by 2021, consisting of the bespoke style that will efficiently replace this vehicle, the CUPRA Formentor. The concept, states the business, is 'to create cars not founded in fond memories however rooted in the present'. Presumably, that's indicated to be a dig at straight contending brand names like Alfa Romeo and MINI, both of which produce items this CUPRA Ateca sets out to straight target: particularly, fast, charming petrol-powered mid-sized SUVs, cars that use a great deal of what you get in, state, a Porsche Macan for a good deal less money. That sounds an intriguing market specific niche. Can this vehicle fill it? Let's learn.
In terms of the engineering behind this vehicle, there's absolutely nothing we haven't seen prior to in a Volkswagen Group design, but the CUPRA engineers credit themselves with bringing all the different components together in a type never ever formerly seen in one of the Wolfsburg corporation's SUVs. The components in question consist of a 300PS 2.0-litre TSI turbo gas engine obtained from the VW Golf R, a seven-speed DSG transmission, a Haldex four-wheel drive system and stiff, strong modular MQB architecture. Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers are also standard-fit and there are 6 driving settings, consisting of a choice of 'Comfort', 'Sport' or max-attack 'CUPRA' driving modes. This vehicle sits 10mm closer to the roadway than a normal Ateca and utilizes retuned springs and dampers along with big 19-inch wheels, so the ride quality will undoubtedly be firmer than that of a standard Ateca design but of course body control and corner turn-in will be of a various order too. It's satisfyingly rapid, rest to 62mph occupying 4.9 s en route to 152mph flat out.
DESIGN AND BUILD
We like the performance styling; dialled up a bit over a regular Ateca, with huge 19-inch rims filling the extended arches. But not too 'Max Power'. The same is true inside, where CUPRA Ateca buyers delight in part-leather sports seats, Alcantara on the doors, textured mouldings and leather on the guiding wheel. It's not quite enough to disguise the many more affordable plastic mouldings that betray this car's humbler origins, though the designers have actually done their best, freely using high-gloss black trim and chrome decoration. There's lots of technical sophistication too, with a now-upgraded 9.2-inch centre-dash display screen and a 10.25-inch fully-digital instrument cluster. The Ateca is one of the tiniest mid-sized SUVs you can purchase, so you should not anticipate too much in regards to rear seat space. Really, a number of adults can be accommodated quite conveniently, though there are no seat sliding or seat back-reclining functions to make residents a bit more comfortable. Out back, because this is a four-wheel-drive Ateca, it has a slightly shallower boot than some of its variety stablemates, however one that's still a sensible size at 485-litres. The boot is accessed by a standard powered tailgate (among those you can activate by waving your foot underneath the bumper) and will quickly swallow a number of huge cases and a pushchair.
MARKET AND MODEL
CUPRA Ateca pricing starts from around £& pound; 38,000 -or around double the expense of the humblest, most feebly-powered standard-model Ateca. Yes. And you can spend more. Opt for the optional 'Comfort & Sound' pack' and you'll be paying a portion over £& pound; 40,000. There's an even plusher 'Limited Edition' variant with 'Copper' carbonfibre trimming components for just under £& pound; 43,000, which you can have with a rortier Akrapovic sports exhaust for £& pound; 3,000 more if you're really identified to boost the Cupra brand's bank balance. All versions do of course get the expected high levels of infotainment and connectivity, the 8-inch centre-dash touchscreen offering the latest generation of the SEAT 'Full Link' bundle which includes 'Apple CarPlay' and 'AndroidAuto' smartphone-mirroring. The system will likewise read out brand-new text, Twitter and Facebook messages and let you dictate a reply. It's even got the ability to let you set up your own screen gestures to faster way to your most popular commands. Plus there's a variety of creative remote features accessible through a downloadable SEAT DriveApp. Other standard set includes keyless entry and start, a cordless battery charger, a GSM signal booster for your 'phone, a 360-degree leading view video camera system, navigation and automated 'park help' to guide you into area: all this comes as requirement. Plus there's a totally digital instrument cluster - the brand calls it a 'Digital Cockpit' - which permits the chauffeur to view all info that might be pertinent, from classic analogue dials such as a speedometer and rev counter to full-colour maps and navigation.
EXPENSE OF OWNERSHIP
The CUPRA brand estimates a 32.5 mpg combined cycle WLTP-rated economy figure and a 197g/km WLTP-rated CO2 reading, which is reasonable for such a high performance SUV. Residual worths are a little bit of an unidentified. If the CUPRA brand takes off, they could reinforce perfectly but for the time being, the market will tend to see this as simply just a very pricey Ateca. So buyers will need to be a bit brave. What else? Well CUPRA items get SEAT's typical three year/60,000 mile warranty. When competitors like Toyota and Hyundai offer 5 years of cover as basic and Kia uses up to seven years, that's unexceptional. However, the CUPRA offer is extendable, so you might be able to negotiate on that. And it consists of two years of Europe-wide roadside assistance.
In theory, the CUPRA Ateca makes sense. Combine the engine, gearbox and drivetrain of an acclaimed hot hatchback (in this case the VW Golf R) with the fashionable, useful and prompt body design of a compact mid-sized SUV. In practice though, you question whether all of this has been put together in a special sufficient method to justify the premium prices being asked here. The Spanish brand name states that there's no other marque rather like it in the present market, which is true. However there are lots of products that are quite similar, all from far better recognized nameplates. For all of that though, this Iberian competitor represents something a bit various in its sector and that's revitalizing. CUPRA reckons there's latin spirit in every one. And if you like the thought of that and you're willing to provide something brand-new a try, then this Ateca might well be a fascinating choice.