Cupra Formentor V FWD review: are sport and speed the same thing?

David Linklater
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Photos / David Linklater


Base price
Fuel Consumption (l/100km)
Maximum power kW
0-100 km/h
  • Near-impossible to tell from more costly models
  • Still sporty to drive
  • Lavishly equipped 
  • Not the latest powertrain tech
  • Sluggish infotainment system
  • No standalone drive-mode button

A quick question for you all: are “sporty” and “speedy” the same thing? Because your answer will likely determine your view of the new entry-level Cupra Formentor V.

The Formentor coupe-SUV is something of a halo vehicle for the Spanish brand; it looks impossibly upmarket and it’s the only model in the lineup that doesn’t have a direct equivalent from the Seat parent brand. It’s supposed to be sexy to look at and fun to drive.

The Formentor was launched in very hot VZ form (228kW/400Nm, 0-100km/h 4.9sec), with a V 4Drive model (140kW/400Nm, 0-100km/h 7.1sec) also available that’s slower but still acceptably brisk, and saves you $15k.  The former has a Cupra-specific powertrain, while the latter’s is borrowed from Seat.

But now there’s a V FWD, which downsizes from the 2.0-litre engines of the AWD models to a more thrifty 1.5-litre turbo-petrol (also courtesy of Seat); at $48,900, it’s $6k cheaper than the V 4Drive, taking Formentor under the $50k mark for the first time.

There are a couple of key things to know about this new entry-level Formentor. The first is that the powertrain is the only difference from the V 4Drive and of course you can’t see that. Otherwise the (generous) specification is identical.

This base Formentor is visually indistinguishable from the next version up, which in turn only differs in look from the hottest VZ by smaller 18-inch wheels (you can add the 19s with the optional V Agile Pack) and different exhaust pipes. So what we’re saying is: the neighbours will have a hard time telling your $49k Formentor from the $20k-more-expensive super-fast one.

Given buyers of the VZ will likely want the best one regardless and everybody else wants the Formentor because it looks cool and handles well, that’s a pretty smart strategy by Cupra.

The other key thing about the V FWD is that it’s quite a bit slower than even the V Drive: it take almost another two seconds to get to 100km/h, although the payoff is nearly a litre less fuel consumed every 100km.

We don’t actually have any issue with smaller capacity and less speed in this context. The Formentor remains a great drive by compact-SUV standards and the V FWD is as rewarding as the 4Drive, if not more so on dry roads because it’s100kg lighter. It’s got a really nimble and responsive feel through corners.

But there is an issue with the V FWD engine. It's a version of the powerplant fitted to the latest Seat Leon, but it lacks that's car's mild hybrid technology - which would surely be a selling point for the fashion-forward Formentor. It's newer than the 1.4 powertrain fitted to the Ateca FR (there seem to be a lot of different engines floating around Seat/Ateca) but the latter seems nicer and more refined, partly because it has a conventional eight-speed automatic gearbox, compared to the DSC of the Cupra.

Definitely not a deal-breaker, but just a shame that Cupra’s coolest model doesn't quite tick the boxes for powertrain appeal.

The interior is truly premium and full of gorgeous detail touches, some of which are functional – like the ambient lighting in the door rims that doubles as blind-spot warning, flashing red when the radar detects another vehicle behind.

VW has copped a fair bit of flack for its over-reliance on haptic touch controls lately, and has even said publically that it’s backing off from this technology in future. But like many non-VW, um, VW Group models, the Cupra doesn’t go the whole way and is better for it. It retains the weird “swipe” controls for climate under the main screen (which can be pretty slow to boot up, actually), but there are physical buttons retained on the steering wheel which mean you can operate the adaptive cruise and reconfigure the virtual instrument panel without looking down.

You do still have to go into a main-screen menu to activate Sport mode, though; it seems odd that a car with a sporting focus doesn’t offer a one-touch mode button that’s easily accessible (the VZ does, however).

Ergonomics aside, the whole thing looks gorgeous: very colourful and crisp displays and lots of interesting textures. Along with Cupra’s signature copper highlights, of course.

The showroom and driver-appeal of the Formentor remain; and the coupe-SUV configuration is right on point for the 2022-23 buyer. If it’s your thing, it’d be a mistake to think of the FWD as simply a cut-price entry point. If you’re looking at the Formentor V, don’t necessarily need AWD and don’t feel the need to race RAV4s away from the lights, it’s certainly worth a look.

ENGINE: 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four
POWER: 110kW/250Nm
GEARBOX: 7-speed automated dual clutch (DSG), FWD
0-100KM/H: 8.9 seconds
CONSUMPTION: 6.6l/100km, CO2 149g/km (3P-WLTP)
PRICE: $48,990 (Clean Car zero band)


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