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The Cupra Formentor VZ5 has five-cylinders and 385bhp

Cupra’s third birthday present to itself borrows the Audi RS3’s inline-five. Hell yeah

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The unthinkable has happened – Audi has let one of its VW Group bedfellows use the five-cylinder engine from the RS3, RSQ3 and TT RS et al. A birthday present, perhaps, for a company that turns three years old today, and the car it’s building to celebrate…

Yup – it really has been three years since Cupra split from the Seat mothership to forge its own path as “an unconventional challenger brand based on stimulating style and contemporary performance”. And this is the car it’s built to mark the occasion, to celebrate its independence – a version of the Formentor crossover with the RS3’s mighty turbocharged inline-five. It’s called the VZ5 (VZ comes from ‘veloz’, the Spanish word for speed).

We’re talking 385bhp and 354lb ft – 79bhp and 105lb ft more than the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Formentor – for 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds (plays 4.9 for the 2.0-litre) and a 155mph top speed. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox sends power to all four wheels. Meanwhile the massive 18-inch stoppers with six-piston copper-coloured calipers are by Akebono, the Japanese company that did the brakes for the McLaren P1 and more recently, Polestar 1.

The VZ5 sits 10mm lower than the 2.0-litre car on adaptive dampers with 15 different settings. It has a wider track, too, hence the flared wheel arches and squatter stance. There are five drive modes – Comfort, Sport, Individual, Cupra and, yes, ‘Offroad’ – for the driver to swap between with a button on the steering wheel, and elsewhere inside there are new “CUPBucket” seats mounted low for a racy driving position.

Spot a VZ5 by looking for those flared arches, plus the unique 20-inch copper-coloured alloy wheels and subtly different bonnet and front bumper. You’ll also spy the vertically-stacked exhausts and carbon-fibre splitter and diffuser. Some will be finished in ‘Taiga Grey” – a colour reserved only for the VZ5. It’ll take a car person to identify one of these, which is a Good Thing.

What is Not a Good Thing, though, is that there’s a chance the VZ5 might not make it to Great Britain. The company’s UK operation tells us it’s “working to import a number of units”, but that discussions are still ongoing. Best case scenario is we’ll get a handful of the 7,000 cars total Cupra’s planning to build. And they’ll all be wrong-hand drive anyway, because Cupra isn’t doing any in RHD. Boo.

More as we have it, but in the meantime click on these blue words to read our review of the normal Cupra Formentor.

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