Cupra Formentor V 4Drive review: in the driver's Seat
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Cupra Formentor V 4Drive
- Handy $14k cheaper than VZ
- Visually identical to swifter brother
- Still a lot of fun to drive
- Infotainment isn't exactly intuitive
- Needs VZ’s steering wheel drive-mode button
- Agile option pack ($2500) pretty much a must-have
Cupra has made a pretty big of deal of the Formentor SUV, and rightly so. It’s the first model created specifically for the brand and won’t be shared with parent company Seat, or indeed any of Volkswagen Group’s other divisions. It’s a bit special.
In that context, it’s easy to sniff at the entry-level Formentor for New Zealand, the V 4Drive. It’s 88kW/80Nm down on the flagship VZ, 2.2 seconds slower to 100km/h and does in fact have essentially the same powertrain as the Seat Ateca FR 4Drive. You could accuse it of not being a “real” Cupra; it was presumably destined to be badged Seat, before the company made the big decision that the whole Formentor range would a Cupra-exclusive.
But hang on, isn’t the Ateca FR 4Drive one of our favourite fun-to-drive medium-sized SUVs? Yes it is. The Formentor’s chassis has also benefited from Cupra-specific fettling and the 0-100km/h time of 7.1 seconds is still brisk enough to justify the svelte look.
Indeed, much of the Formentor’s appeal is that sensational styling, and the V looks almost identical to the VZ, especially when you add the 19-inch machined alloys as an option (the only real difference then is the quad exhaust pipes on the VZ).
Oh, and the V 4Drive is $54,900, which is a handy $14k cheaper than the VZ (or $2k more costly than Ateca FR, if you’re wondering). Even with the $2500 Agile option pack on our car, which includes those wheels, heated seats/steering wheel, park assist and wireless phone charging, you’ve still got a five-figure sum of money in your pocket compared with the go-fast VZ. Which we do love, by the way; but the head might have a little word with the heart when it comes to the number-crunching.
That ubiquitous 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine and seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) transmission is as perky here as it is in other VW Group product (you’ll find it in the same 140kW state of tune in Skodas, too). The DSG dithers sometimes in low-speed manoeuvres, but’s suitably snappy when you want to press on.
The V has passive suspension rather than the adaptive setup from the VZ; the latter certainly adds a lot of dynamic nuance to the car, but the V’s chassis is hardly a disappointment. Seat/Cupra has a knack for chassis tuning and this entry-level car achieves on-brand stability and sportiness without ruining around-town comfort.
One big difference between Formentor and the closely related Ateca is the cabin. Because Formentor is a brand-new model, it ramps up VW Group’s latest infotainment technology to the maximum. There’s virtually no physical switchgear, with all major functions in the colourful and sometimes-complicated menus of the huge 12-inch touch screen.
It takes some getting used to, that’s for sure. The screen is heavily customisable, which means even the simplest functions have to be sought out when you’re not familiar with the operating system. But if it’s your car you will be familiar of course, and aside from a couple of seconds delay when it boots up, it’s a pretty slick setup. You can circumvent a lot of it by just using phone projection if you wish, with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto standard on all Formentors. That’s another reason why the Agile option pack, which includes a wireless phone charger, is a good idea.
The V doesn’t get the more aggressive “Cupra” drive mode of the VZ, and that’s fine. But it also doesn’t get the steering wheel mounted drive mode button. You have to go into the touch screen (again) to go from Comfort to Sport to Individual to Off-Road, which is kind of annoying; especially when you want to switch between the first two on the open road.
It’s a more intimate car inside than the Ateca, despite a 50mm-longer wheelbase, but also a much more sporty feeling one, with the driving position more akin to a hatchback than a traditional SUV. In this, and so many other respects, the Formentor V 4Drive feels really good.
CUPRA FORMENTOR V 4DRIVE
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four
GEARBOX: 7-speed automated dual clutch (DSG), AWD
PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h 7.1 seconds