Cupra Formentor long-term test: report 3

The Cupra Formentor is great to drive and striking to look at, but how easy is it to live with? That’s what we’ll be exploring over the next few months...

Neil Behind the Wheel Cupra Formentor

The car Cupra Formentor 2.0 TSI 310 4Drive DSG VZ2 Run by Neil Winn, hubs editor

Why it’s here To find out if a sports SUV is a better day-to-day companion than a traditional hot hatch

Needs to Offer the driver thrilling performance and impressive levels of practicality 

Mileage 3412 List price £39,870 Target Price £39,678 Price as tested £40,670 Official economy 30.1mpg Test economy 29.9mpg 

14 June 2021 – Road trippin'

I love a road trip. There is, quite simply, no better way to get to know a car. So, when the Covid restrictions in Scotland finally eased enough for me to visit my family, I didn’t hesitate.

As soon as the clock hit 5:30 last Friday afternoon, I grabbed the keys to the Cupra Formentor and hit the road. So what did I learn on my 1000-mile round trip to the Trossachs? Well, perhaps the biggest surprise was that the Formentor makes a remarkably comfortable motorway car.

Cupra Formentor Scotland 1

With the standard-fit adaptive dampers slackened off in Comfort mode, it settles into a lovely relaxed gait at motorway speeds, the suspension rising and falling with the natural cadence of the road. It's no exaggeration to say that the way the Formentor rides at high speeds is very similar to what you’ll experience in an adaptively sprung Skoda Octavia.  

The average fuel economy was a pleasant surprise, too. After 418 miles spent cruising at just below the national speed limit, the trip computer showed a figure of 36.1mpg. Not bad for a car with a claimed 306bhp. The Formentor has a 55-litre fuel tank, so I was able to complete the journey without having to stop to fill up, which earns it a massive tick in my book.

Once in Scotland, I was presented with the opportunity to test the handling and performance in an appropriate environment. So, does the Formentor thrill on country roads like a razor-sharp hot hatch? Well, the short answer is no, not quite. 

Cupra Formentor Scotland 4

When you choose Cupra mode using the drive selector on the steering wheel, the adaptive suspension firms up, giving the car a sense of unflappable body control. That, combined with the sharp steering, clever four-wheel drive system and quick-shifting seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox means it can cover ground very quickly, regardless of the conditions. So what’s the problem?

Well, compared with that of the Volkswagen Golf R – or even the T-Roc R, for that matter – the Formentor’s four-wheel drive system has been set up to deliver maximum point-to-point pace rather than giving it a playful edge. Instead of allowing a little bit of slide on the exit of a corner, the Formentor simply grips and goes. That might suit drivers who are simply looking for a quick, attractively styled SUV, but if you’re after a thrilling all-action driving experience, we’d recommend taking a look at one of the VWs.

Cupra Formentor Water

Speaking of VW, it’s also somewhat disappointing that Cupra doesn’t yet offer a sports exhaust option like the one available for the T-Roc R. At £3000, that optional Akrapovic system has always split opinion on the road test desk, but I’ve always been a big fan. It adds drama to proceedings, parping theatrically under acceleration and crackling whenever you lift off.

The Formentor, meanwhile, sounds muted in Comfort or Sport mode, and overly synthetic in Cupra mode, with fake engine noise pumped through the speakers. It shares the same engine as the T-Roc R, so hopefully some Akrapovic pipes are in the works.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Read more on our long-term Cupra Formentor >>

Read about more long-term test cars >>

Also consider