The next test drive will be dedicated to the CUPRA Formentor: design and interior, technology and road behavior, price and competitors. However, it will not be just a test drive of the car; it will be something more – an opinion about the CUPRA brand as a whole. Because it is the CUPRA Formentor TDI that best embodies the brand’s present and future.
Design: cross hatchback
We would like to call the CUPRA Formentor a cross-coupe, a term that is in vogue today. We have a dynamic appearance, large wheels, pointed headlights – and at the same time, crossover features. However, formally, the definition of “cross-hatchback” would be more correct.
After all, visually, the body of the CUPRA Formentor TDI is very similar to the current SEAT Leon. Which has been slightly raised (ground clearance is about 16 cm) and covered with plastic overlays around the perimeter from below. Plus, all-wheel drive was added – so the word “crossover” in this case is more justified than in other models with a “harsh” appearance, but only with a mono-drive. However, more about the technology later, and now about the design.
Attractive style and interesting format: more than just a C-class hatchback; but lower than a typical crossover. If you are interested in the detailed dimensions, the CUPRA Formentor TDI has a length of 4.45 meters, a width of 1.84 meters, a height of 1.51 meters, and a wheelbase of 2.69 meters. Is there enough space for a spacious interior?
The SEAT Leon hatchback is worth mentioning here again, for two reasons. Firstly, the interior offers typical hatchback body proportions: we have the expected legroom and width, but no upright seating position and no additional “air reserve” above the head – something that usually distinguishes a crossover. Secondly, the massive front panel, wide center console, minimum buttons and maximum displays – everything is very similar or even borrowed from the SEAT Leon model.
But details and accents are so important! For example, the sports seats with integrated headrests and advanced lateral support immediately hint at the car’s character and ensure that the body is perfectly supported when cornering. Or here’s another “nice touch”: the digital instrument cluster allows you to choose from several display options and customize additional windows; and the central 12-inch display allows you to arrange the menu to your liking. Even the background illumination of the cabin was successfully “played with”. The color of the backlight can change depending on the selected driving mode, and the side sections can be triggered as a warning – when the doors are open or when there is a signal from the mirror blind spot monitoring system.
The interior of the CUPRA Formentor TDI appears neutral at first glance. In fact, there’s a lot of “fancy” stuff hidden inside: sports seats, copper décor and stitching, displays with extensive customization options. Under the central display there is a place for a touch panel: you can adjust the volume of the audio system and the temperature of the “climate”. Rear passengers get a normal amount of legroom, a comfortable armrest, and ventilation deflectors: not bad! The trunk is also not bad – 420 liters, side niches and hooks, additional space under the floor panel. It’s interesting: we started with fiction and sports seats in the front, and ended up with convenience and practicality in the back. This is the combination of sportiness and practicality that characterizes the CUPRA Formentor!
Technology: familiar platform, familiar engine
The vehicle is based on the MQB platform, which allows for very flexible changes in parameters: wheelbase dimensions and overall body length, drive and suspension types, and the installation of various engines. The CUPRA Formentor TDI, as the name implies, is powered by a turbo diesel engine, a 2-liter 4-cylinder EA 288 evo series engine with an aluminum block with cast iron liners, a direct fuel injection system and a turbine. This engine develops 110 kW/150 hp and 360 Nm of torque.
Now a few words about the transmission. The gearbox is a 7-speed DSG “robot” with the DQ381 designation and dual wet clutches (operating in an oil bath). The car is also equipped with a 4Drive all-wheel drive system based on a friction clutch, which is responsible for the flexible distribution of torque between the front and rear wheels. Finally, to wrap up on the technical side of things: the front has an independent MacPherson suspension and brakes with ventilated discs with a diameter of 312 mm, while the rear has an independent multi-link suspension and solid discs with a diameter of 272 mm.
A modern car can be assembled like a construction set and get a certain result. Here are the components of the test car: MQB, TDI EA 288 evo, DSG DQ381, 4Drive. What did we get at the end? Power of 150 hp and torque of 360 Nm, dynamics up to “hundreds” in 8.6 seconds and a maximum of 203 km/h, fuel consumption of 5.7-6.2 liters per 100 km in a mixed cycle. This is what the manufacturer claims. And what is the reality?
Behind the wheel: a pleasant character for every day
Every start from a standstill, every acceleration inspires confidence in the strength and power of the engine – I believe in these 150 diesel horsepower! And even more: perhaps it is not only the engine that we should say “thank you” to, but also the lightness of the car itself. Although on paper we see a hefty 1,619 kg, the CUPRA Formentor TDI feels like it weighs less: it takes off from a standstill and accelerates well. The turbo diesel and the robot easily find a common language, so these accelerations are inseparable. It’s just one continuous whirlwind of traction and power that easily brings the car up to city speeds, then surpasses them, and then we’re on the highway, accelerating further… Just great!
In fact, the 150-horsepower CUPRA Formentor TDI is never “sporty” in terms of absolute dynamics – for that, there are gasoline versions with much higher power values in the model range. And the dynamics measurement (shown below) hints at this. However, the ease of traction and acceleration control, good starts from a standstill and acceleration on the move – all this gives a sense of dynamic and lively character.
Which is further supported by the chassis settings. Do you know what the main thing is about the CUPRA Formentor TDI? For myself, I noted the steering wheel: quite sharp (two turns from stop to stop) and at the same time quite light, with clear and quick responses to the driver’s actions – you just want to drive the car, you want to turn it over and over again! Thanks to the low body, there are few rolls. And thanks to the well-tuned suspension, there is also good comfort: there is no outright suspension stiffness, only elasticity in medium and large pits.
The engine fills the CUPRA Formentor TDI with pleasant, everyday dynamics. That’s right – for every day – because with the real measurement result of 9.2-9.5 seconds, you can’t expect anything else. However, everything compensates for fuel consumption: you can constantly drive around the city with an indicator of 7-7.5 liters per 100 km, although with a dynamic driving style and traffic jams, get ready for 9-10 liters. On the highway, the car fits in about five liters. The system for changing the driving profile settings allows you to select the SPORT mode with heavier steering and higher engine speeds (the DSG automatic is in no hurry to shift into high gears), or the OFFROAD mode for off-road use – it is here for a reason, as all versions of the CUPRA Formentor presented in Ukraine are currently equipped with all-wheel drive. Speaking of different versions and their prices…
Cost: how much does CUPRA Formentor cost and who are the competitors
If we look at the list of CUPRA Formentor vehicles declared in warehouses in Ukraine, we have a choice between a 2-liter TDI diesel engine (150 hp) or 2-liter TSI gasoline engine (190 hp), plus there will always be a 7-speed DSG transmission and all-wheel drive.
It remains to choose the exact list of equipment: matrix headlights, various wheels, leather interior or fabric upholstery, panoramic glass roof, multimedia system with a 12-inch display, BEATS audio, all-round view, etc. In any case, there are no “empty” cars – the equipment will always be good. The price is suitable: a CUPRA Formentor costs UAH 1.5-1.7 million ($39-45 thousand), depending on the engine chosen and the exact list of equipment.
Different wheel rims, sports seats with leather or fabric upholstery, an additional third climate zone for the rear passengers, a large central display and a range of driver assistance systems are the differences between the different versions of the CUPRA Formentor apart from the engines.
Now a few words about the rivals. The first in the list is the name of the Volkswagen T-Roc: a similar cross-hatchback body format and 150 hp (but derived from a smaller gasoline engine), only front-wheel drive. By the way, among European competitors, we can also mention DS 4 or Peugeot 408: both with front-wheel drive only, plus the DS 4 gives you a choice of engine (diesel or gasoline), and the Peugeot 408 offers larger dimensions and a spacious interior, but only with a gasoline engine.
If you need all-wheel drive, then you should go for Japanese cars. For example, Mazda CX-30: only a gasoline engine, front or all-wheel drive, a nice interior (although not very spacious). Also worth noting is the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross: again, there is no diesel option, but there is an all-wheel drive option, and it’s quite spacious inside.
Results of the CUPRA Formentor TDI test drive
To begin with, let’s define what the CUPRA Formentor TDI offers: a successful combination of attractive design, dynamic style, and good practicality. Of course, such a design begs for more power. But let’s be realistic: it is certain that in the few years of the CUPRA Formentor model’s existence (whether in Europe or in Ukraine), the majority of sales will be made by such medium 150-190 horsepower versions.
And this brings us to the next topic of discussion: what is the CUPRA brand in general? For the Volkswagen Group, it’s like Alfa Romeo, but with its own and understandable technology. Once upon a time, they wanted to create such a “German Alfa Romeo” from the SEAT brand, but something kept failing. And in the end, we can see what happened: it turned out to be easier to start from scratch with a new book called CUPRA.
That’s why the CUPRA Formentor TDI is the vehicle that best demonstrates the present and future of the new brand. From now on, CUPRA doesn’t always mean maximum sportiness and power: we’re turning it down a notch – but we’re also increasing sales! However, even so, CUPRA cars are able to maintain a dynamic character and give pleasant driving emotions. The result is this interesting combination of sporty style and everyday practicality.