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The Top Gear car review: Cupra Formentor
For:Sharp looks, handles well for a crossover, plenty of space and equipment
Against:Fiddly touch-sensitive heater almost as annoying as having to explain the badge to your mates
What is it?
Not a Seat. Not now, not ever. The Formentor will only ever be badged as a Cupra, Seat’s sporty and electrified off-shoot marque. So, if you thought all Cupras were just rebadged Seats, this hunkered-down ‘coupe-SUV’ just trampled all over your argument.
Obviously, it’s not a completely bespoke machine from the ground up. That’s not how the Volkswagen Group set about taking over Planet Car. Under its crisply creased skin, the Formentor is based on the same raw ingredients as the well-rounded Seat Ateca, or for that matter the VW Golf: same basic chassis, shared gearboxes, and the latest touchscreen infotainment centre from the brand-new (and pretty excellent) Leon hatchback.
However, to give the Formentor a butch stance, it’s longer and lower than the school run-spec Ateca. In the metal it’s a handsome beast, prompting one Top Gear staffer to wonder aloud how Cupra has been allowed to sneak out a design that’s so much better resolved than Lamborghini’s Urus. In this class, looks sell, and that’ll help the Cupra find a footing. And to help with the pedigree, for the time being the only engine options are pure hot hatch fodder.
Currently, you choose between two engines shared with the Cupra Leon hot hatchback. So, it’s a 306bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo unit driving all four wheels (a familiar powertrain from the likes of the VW Golf R and Audi S3) or a new plug-in hybrid set-up teaming a 1.4-litre turbo engine with an electric motor to develop 242bhp. The eHybrid version is capable of a claimed 31 miles on electric power alone.
There’ll be six trimlines: we’ve tested a range-topper with the 306bhp engine – surely the most Cupra-ish of all the Formentors.
Oh, and that name? Apparently it’s nothing to do with the ghoulish soul-sucking villains of the Harry Potter universe, nor the yeasty properties of brewing your own beer. ‘Formentor’ is in fact a picturesque peninsula in Majorca – a nod to Cupra’s Spanish roots. Remember that when your mates ask you what your car’s called, because weirdly, the word ‘Formentor’ doesn’t appear anywhere on or indeed inside the car.