In-depth reviews

Cupra Formentor SUV - Engines, drive & performance

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

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

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 306bhp petrol version at least. Zero-to-62mph acceleration takes just 4.9 seconds, which is faster than all but the most powerful hot hatchbacks, and the top speed is pegged at 155mph. The Formentor uses the same underpinnings as the Volkswagen T-Roc R, so the two cars’ performance is unsurprisingly similar.

Four-wheel drive and sticky tyres mean the range-topping Formentor offers an incredible amount of grip, and we were impressed with how little body roll you get during cornering. That in turn means the car feels welded to the road, and the changeable weather during our drive showed that the Formentor can still impress even in wintry conditions. There's a lack of steering feel but this is commonplace in sporty SUV rivals and doesn't get in the way of having fun behind the wheel.

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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. The exhaust still sounds burbly when you step off the throttle but Cupra has resisted the pops and bangs made by a lot of the hardcore hot hatches. 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

The entry-level 2.0-litre version of the Porsche Macan can't match the range-topping Formentor for straight-line speed but it's more adjustable and engaging to drive than the Cupra. Other potential rivals, like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio with a 2.0-litre engine, don't feel as quick or as agile as the Formentor, so while it may lose out to the Porsche, the Cupra is still a very enjoyable car to drive and one of the more accomplished performance SUVs in this department.

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With 148bhp and the choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or optional seven-speed DSG automatic, the 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.

Above this is a 187bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine, which comes exclusively with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. While this combination increases the price and running costs, it’s also noticeably quicker, reaching 0-62mph in seven seconds. It’s the quickest model available in V1 and V2 trims.

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 Cupra 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.

The hybrids may not be the best choice for those looking for the most performance but their efficiency benefits means they’re worth looking at if you regularly drive in cities and low-emission zones.

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