2021 Cupra Formentor SUV: 385bhp VZ5 range-topper storms in

Limited-edition Cupra Formentor VZ5 gets powerful 2.5-litre engine but it may not come to the UK

Cupra Formentor VZ5 driving
  • Plug-in hybrid manages up to 34 miles on electric power
  • 7,000 VZ5 models to be produced worldwide
  • 12-inch touchscreen standard

The Cupra Formentor has a new range-topping VZ5 model that’s powered by a 2.5-litre engine also used in the Audi RS3. Its launch celebrates Cupra’s third birthday, and it’ll only be produced in limited numbers.

Unlike the pair of plug-in hybrids available elsewhere in the Formentor range, there’s no added electrification in this version. With a 385bhp petrol engine, the VZ5 has significantly more power than the 306bhp 2.0-litre engine in the VZ2.

2021 Cupra Formentor VZ5

Every Formentor sold so far has come with a four-cylinder engine but the VZ5 packs a 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine. Linked to a seven-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, the Formentor VZ5 can reach 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds and will carry on to a limited top speed of 155mph.

The unique sound of the engine is played through four exhaust pipes, and there’s no artificial noise played through the cabin speakers. VZ5 models get 10mm lower suspension than the next most powerful versions, plus electronically controlled adaptive dampers (offering 15 different settings) and five individual driving modes, including a Cupra mode that you can access straight from the steering wheel.

While the Formentor is also available with other engines, you won’t mistake the VZ5 for an entry-level model. A carbon-fibre splitter is fitted along with a more muscular-looking bonnet, and the new rear diffuser is made from carbon fibre as well. There’s unique badging and 20-inch copper alloy wheels, which sit in front of 18-inch brake discs. Four colours, including an exclusive Taiga Grey shade, are available for the VZ5.

Only 7,000 VZ5 models will be produced and all are set to be left-hand drive. Because of this, it may not come to the UK. Cupra has expressed a desire to sell the VZ5 on our shores; we’d expect prices to start from nearly £50,000 if it does.

Cupra Formentor e-Hybrid PHEV

The Cupra Formentor e-Hybrid plug-in hybrid model is now on sale. It combines a seven-second 0-62mph time with the promise of 188mpg and over 30 miles of electric range. You’ll need to pay £38,625 for the ‘VZ1’ trim level and £40,260 for the VZ2 version, meaning the latter is just over the threshold for higher annual VED.

The 242bhp plug-in hybrid setup is familiar from the Volkswagen Golf GTE and Skoda Octavia vRS. The 0-62mph time of seven seconds is a little longer than that of the hatchbacks because of the Formentor’s SUV body, but it’s still quick. The e-Hybrid sits in the middle of the range in performance terms but will also manage 32 (VZ2) or 34 (VZ1) miles of silent electric driving. That means the e-Hybrid could be the best option if you spend most of your time in town. Recharging takes 3.5 hours from a 3.6kW charger.

UK prices and specifications

Cupra has essentially split the Formentor range in two. The new V1 and V2 trim levels can be specified with 148bhp and 187bhp petrol engines or a 201bhp petrol-electric powertrain, while the VZ trims only come with the more powerful engines: a 242bhp plug-in hybrid option and the 306bhp petrol. The VZ5 may get exclusive equipment and styling touches to emphasise its flagship status.

Buyers of the entry-level V1 model don’t miss out on many desirable features; it comes with rear parking sensors, three-zone climate control, predictive adaptive cruise control, a digital instrument cluster, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lights and a 12-inch sat nav touchscreen. V2 adds bigger wheels, heated Nappa leather seats, a heated steering wheel, a rear-view camera and a hands-free tailgate, and costs around £29,500 - roughly £2,000 more than the V1.

VZ1, coming in the next few weeks, will be the cheapest ‘hot’ Formentor, and will feature Dynamic Chassis Control, bucket seats and extra safety kit - as well as all the equipment from the V1. VZ2 costs £39,830 and gets extra exhausts, the heated leather seats and a comprehensive list of safety features. VZ3 cars add copper-tinged black alloys and more powerful Brembo brakes for £42,200.

Engines

The most powerful 2.0-litre engine comes with an automatic gearbox as standard and 4DRIVE all-wheel-drive for improved grip. With a 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds, it’s merely a tenth of a second off the new Cupra Leon ST estate, while the top speed is the same at 155mph.

In late 2020, the Formentor gained an entry-level 1.5-litre petrol engine, lowering the starting price to £27,395. This engine produces 148bhp and gets the car from 0-62mph in under nine seconds. It might not offer the blistering performance of the 306bhp model or the new VZ5 but it still offers reasonable acceleration alongside the promise of 44.8mpg, compared to 33mpg for the much more expensive versions.

Cupra has also confirmed that the Formentor will soon be available with a 187bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and two plug-in hybrid choices.

Styling

The Formentor SUV shares styling cues with the SEAT Tarraco SUV, namely the one-piece rear light bar and similar sleek headlights. In other areas, the Formentor looks sportier, in keeping with the Cupra brand. It sits slightly lower than normal, with an aggressive front bumper, a wider track, chunkier wheel arches, a large rear wing and a sloping roofline. Massive Brembo brakes can be fitted behind 19-inch alloy wheels, which are painted in a copper finish on VZ versions, and there are nine paints to choose from, including metallic, special and matte finishes.

Interior

The sporty styling is echoed on the inside, with bucket seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and a handful of copper accents. A 12-inch touchscreen - bigger than the one in the Cupra Leon - comes with voice and gesture control, along with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. A customisable digital instrument cluster and driving mode selectors on the steering wheel also feature. The interior also gets wraparound LED ambient lighting, which flashes when the blind-spot warning is triggered.

A Cupra Connect smartphone app provides a range of online features that allow owners to check vehicle data, see where it’s parked and be warned if the car is being driven too fast or has been stolen. Plug-in hybrid Formentors also come with the option to preset the climate control and schedule when charging starts.

A Cupra Tavascan concept was also unveiled recently but we’re told this may have been delayed as Cupra works on the Formentor, the new Cupra Leon and the freshly launched Cupra el-Born electric car.

Read our Cupra Ateca review, or see where the SEAT Leon Cupra comes in our list of the fastest hatchbacks.

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