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In-depth reviews

Cupra Formentor SUV - Engines, drive & performance

The range-topping Cupra Formentor’s petrol engine is very powerful and there’s plenty of grip

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.5 out of 5

The Formentor certainly looks fast, with deep creases and a sleek shape, and its appearance is backed up by scorching performance – in the range-topping 306bhp petrol version at least. However, while lesser variants of the Formentor can’t quite match full-fledged hot SUVs for outright pace, all are great to drive.

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A chunk more expensive is the Porsche Macan which, in our opinion, is one of the best-handling SUVs you can buy. The Formentor may not have the overall agility or composure of Stuttgart’s finest, but it isn’t all too far off and even puts potential rivals such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio to shame.

Opt for a car with four-wheel drive and the Formentor offers an incredible amount of grip, however, all versions impressed us with their lack of body roll during cornering. There may not be a huge amount of steering feel, but this is commonplace in sporty SUV rivals and doesn't get in the way of having fun.

Everything gets more intense when you put the car into Cupra mode, which can be accessed via a mode select button on the steering wheel. The steering becomes heavier, the throttle response is sharper, the suspension is stiffer and the augmented engine noise becomes a lot more menacing. While the car definitely feels sharpest in Cupra mode, the ride is so firm that you won't want to be in it for day-to-day driving.

Cupra Formentor petrol engines

Those searching for a real hot SUV experience should look no further than the range-topping 2.0-litre petrol engine. Also found in rivals such as the Volkswagen T-Roc R, this produces a punchy 306bhp in the Formentor and will propel it from 0-62mph in a hot hatch-rivalling 4.9 seconds. While not as characterful as, say, the five-cylinder unit in the latest Audi RS3, the 2.0-litre powerplant offers plenty of power and emits a satisfying growl when placed into the aforementioned ‘Cupra’ mode.

With 148bhp and the choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or optional seven-speed DSG automatic, the entry-level 1.5-litre TSI is another familiar engine. It's a stalwart of the Golf range for a start and here it gets the Formentor from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds, with a top speed of 127mph. This is a fairly quiet engine, and considering it does its best work in the mid-range, there's little reason to work it too hard.

Hybrid engines

The two PHEV versions use a 1.4-litre petrol turbo engine and electric motor, with either 201 or 242bhp. These get the Formentor from 0-62mph in 7.8 and seven seconds respectively – not especially quick by hot SUV standards. It doesn't sound very inspiring if you accelerate hard, but in Cupra mode the sound system will take over and reproduce a five-cylinder engine noise – something that can be perceived as cool or kitsch, depending on your personal tastes.

The hybrids may not be the best choice for those looking for the most performance but their electric range means some drivers may be able to make their commute without using any petrol at all.

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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