What's the used Cupra FORMENTOR estate like?
Naturally enough, this Cupra Formentor model shares some of its underpinnings with contemporary Seats, but the coupé SUV body is pure Cupra, and jolly good it looks too, being muscular, taut and handsomely chiselled – the car equivalent of Cary Grant.
The further good news, if you're thinking of seeking out a used one, is that the Cupra Formentor has a wide range of engine options. There's the entry-level 148bhp 1.5 TSI 150 petrol, the 187bhp 2.0 TSI 190 4Drive with four-wheel drive, the TSI 245 and the top-spec 2.0 TSI 310 4Drive. If you want a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) there's also the e-Hybrid 204. With a combined power output (including the electric motor) of 201bhp, it can sprint from 0-62mph in 7.8sec and officially cover up to 37 miles on electric power alone. The more powerful e-Hybrid 245 knocks nearly a second off the 204’s acceleration time.
Trim-wise, even the entry-level V1 is handsomely equipped. You get 18in alloy wheels, full LED headlights, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, privacy glass, power-folding door mirrors, three-zone climate control, keyless entry/start and adaptive cruise control.
VZ1 is the automatic upgrade if you go for one of the more powerful engines (242bhp or 306bhp) and adds 19in alloys and a powered tailgate with gesture control. V2 and VZ2 add heated Napa leather bucket front seats and 19in alloy wheels.
Top-tier VZ3 trim is only available with the most powerful TSI 310 engine and gets you bigger Brembo brakes, special 19in alloy wheels and matrix LED headlights (you can leave these on high beam because they can shape their beams precisely around an approaching vehicle, preventing the driver from being dazzled).
Whichever trim level you go for, you’ll be getting a good amount of safety equipment, with automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist and traffic-sign recognition all coming as standard. Opting for VZ1 trim adds the Safety and Driving Pack L which gives you blind-spot monitoring and a safe exit assist function, while VZ2 and VZ3 models feature lane-change assist.
On the road, you don’t have to work the 1.5 TSI 150 hard to make decent progress and it’ll beat the entry-level 1.8-litre Toyota C-HR to 62mph. If that’s not quite fast enough, the 187bhp 2.0 TSI 190 4Drive introduces four-wheel drive and will cover 0-62mph in 8.9secs. The TSI 245 is quicker still, but the fastest Formentor is obviously the 2.0 TSI 310 4Drive, which is very recommendable.
The suspension that comes with the Formentor's V1, V2 and VZ1 trim is firmer than less sports-focused rivals but manages to strike a good balance between comfort and body control. If you opt for VZ2 trim or above, you’ll get adjustable dampers as standard, which have three modes to alter the suspension set-up. In Comfort mode, it's a bit firmer than the Skoda Karoq and Volvo XC40, but nowhere near as brusque as the jittery Audi Q3 or BMW X1. In face, even in the stiffest Cupra mode, the Formentor is fairly comfortable, giving you improved agility and handling without loosening your fillings.
It has to be said the Formentor doesn’t feel lithe in the corners like a hot hatch, but for an SUV, it’s really good. It steers more sweetly than the DS 4 and Toyota C-HR. There's even a little feel from the road surface, so you can sense the grip that's available. And grip is something you’ll find no shortage of, even in the 1.5 TSI 150, while racier versions carry even more cornering speed, thanks to wider tyres.
While you won’t hear much from the engine, you will hear a fair bit of road and wind noise as you get up to motorway speeds.
If you like a sportier driving position, you should enjoy the Cupra Formentor. You sit much lower down than in most other SUVs. The dashboard is well laid out but doesn’t give you any proper buttons or switches; the air conditioning controls have been replaced with touch-sensitive pads that are difficult to feel and aren’t backlit, meaning you have to look away from the road to find them.
All Formentors come with built-in sat-nav, a DAB radio, four USB-C ports, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, wireless phone charging and a 12.0in touchscreen. The screen is bright and clear, and the operating system is usually responsive, although it takes a fair bit of playing with the menus to grasp their arrangement.
The Formentor's interior has plenty of visual appeal. It's not perfect, however. Look further down in the interior and you'll find plenty of hard plastics, while its spray-painted plastic heater vents look rather cheap.
If you’re thinking that the Formentor’s rakish rear roofline is bound to make it a less practical option than its rivals in the rear, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Two tall adults will fit comfortably, with good head and leg room,
The Formentor’s boot will easily deal with holiday luggage, a buggy or golf clubs. You get a handy 450 litres of boot space in the front-wheel-drive models, dropping to 420 litres in four-wheel-drive (4Drive) versions.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Cupra FORMENTOR estate?
On the whole, the Formentor is a solid car and it tends to be bought by people who look after their cars well. Check the interior for signs of wear and tear and alloys for any kerb damage. Make sure all electrics work as they should.
What are the most common problems with a used Cupra FORMENTOR estate?
As of writing, the Formentor has had recalls for the following issues:
The Front Assist is not configured correctly.
The front seat belts may not be properly anchored due to a manufacturing error.
The bolted connection of the pull rod between the electromechanical brake servo and brake pedal may come loose resulting in a loss of all service braking ability.
Make sure all remedial work has been carried out by contacting your local dealer.
Is a used Cupra FORMENTOR estate reliable?
To give you peace of mind, all Formentors come with a three-year/60,000 mile warranty. That matches what you’ll get with the Volvo XC40, but isn’t as good as the three-year unlimited mileage warranty of the BMW X2 or the five year (or 100,000 miles) Toyota C-HR warranty.
Now, the bad news. Cupra as a brand finished last out of 32 manufacturers in the most recent 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey.
The Formentor didn't do very well in the family SUV class. It finished in 33rd place out of 34 cars.
Reliability rating 81.5%
While only 6% of examples of the Cupra Formentor were rendered undriveable by faults, the car’s score was hurt by the fact that 69% took more than a week to fix. Overall, 54% went wrong, with sat-nav/ infotainment issues accounting for 49% and non-engine electrical faults another 23%. One saving grace is that all repairs were free.
If you would like to see the full reliability list, head to the What Car? Reliability Survey pages for more information.
What used Cupra FORMENTOR estate will I get for my budget?
Used prices for the Cupra Formentor begin at around £21,000 for a late 2020 model (although most will have been registered as 2021 cars). Meanwhile, later 2021 cars are likely to set you back closer to £23,000 to £25,000. Plug-in hybrid examples are available for upwards of £24,000. Spend between £24,000 and £32,000 on 2022 and 2023 models.
Check the value of a used Cupra Formentor with What Car? Valuation
How much does it cost to run a Cupra FORMENTOR estate?
The 1.5 TSI is an efficient engine and will officially average nearly 45mpg. The 1.4 TSI 204 e-Hybrid and 245 e-Hybrid can save you a lot of money in fuel costs if you can charge up the battery regularly (this takes three and a half hours to go from 0-100%). We covered 25 miles on a single charge on our real-world test route before the petrol engine kicked in.
Owners of the Formentor will have to pay £180 per year under the current VED scheme, while hybrid examples attract a fee of £170 per year. If your Formentor cost over £40,000 new, you'll also have to pay a luxury car tax from years two to six. This is currently £390 a year. You can find out more about road tax costs here.
Servicing and insurance
Insurance groups are quite low, meaning the Formentor should be cheap to insure. In terms of servicing, if your example is less than 12 months old, you’ll receive your first two services for a fixed price for the duration of the plan. For cars over a year old, you can pay upfront or spread the cost per month over 24 months.
Which used Cupra FORMENTOR estate should I buy?
The Cupra Formentor has a wide range of engine options to suit most buyers. If you're after something that's quick enough and not too expensive to run, we'd recommend the entry-level 148bhp 1.5 TSI 150 petrol. You don’t have to work it hard to make decent progress
There's no need for anything beyond the entry-level V1 trim because that's stacked with toys. As well as the parking aids and the infotainment gadgets, you also get 18in alloy wheels, full LED headlights, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, privacy glass, power-folding door mirrors, three-zone climate control, keyless entry/start and adaptive cruise control.
Our favourite Cupra Formentor: 1.5 150 TSI V1
What alternatives should I consider to a used Cupra FORMENTOR estate?
Although it sits in a fairly rare class, there are several sharp-looking cars that you could consider rivals.
The Jaguar E-Pace is the firm’s smallest conventionally powered SUV, and it’s great to look at and well-equipped. However, some of its rivals are better to drive and also have plusher interiors. It’s quite pricey as a used buy, too.
The most obvious pure family hatchback rival might be the car on which so much of the Formentor is loosely based, the current Volkswagen Golf. Both are similarly fantastic family cars and you can’t go wrong with either.
The Ford Focus has always impressed us for its practicality nearly as much as it has for its driver appeal. It’s a compelling package and one worth a good look if the sharp Formentor doesn’t quite float your boat.
Other cars that share the Formentor’s underpinnings are the Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia. The A3 is a premium car that has a nicer interior and generally feels more classy. Although the Octavia is longer and more spacious than any of the other cars mentioned here, it is good to drive, too.