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Cupra Formentor 2022 review

The Cupra Formentor is due to touch down in Australia in July 2022.
EXPERT RATING
8.5
Cupra is on the cusp of capitalising on Australia’s sporty-car appetite with the launch of the Leon, Ateca and Formentor later this year, and it’s the latter model you should keep an eye out for. Not just because it looks great, but as the brand’s first standalone model, it’s a preview of what Cupra is capable of.

Let’s pretend you're young, hip, trendy and in the market for a new set of wheels that will turn heads all over town. What cars should you consider?

Lamborghini? Nah, way too expensive. Maybe Citroen? Are you THAT quirky?

Well, there’s about to be a new kid on the block that could tick all the boxes, the Cupra Formentor.

And if you’ve never heard of Cupra before, don’t worry, you aren’t alone.

Cupra, for those that don’t know, comes from Spain, and was Seat’s performance division before being spun off into its own standalone brand, and sits under the Volkswagen Group umbrella alongside Skoda, Audi and, well, Volkswagen.

It’s also going to be Australia’s newest car brand when it arrives in July, with the Formentor as Cupra’s take on the coupe-like small SUV.

Formentor as Cupra’s take on the coupe-like small SUV. (Image: Tung Nguyen) Formentor as Cupra’s take on the coupe-like small SUV. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

Think BMW X6, but smaller, arguably better looking and way more affordable.

All this begs the question, is the Cupra Formentor any good? And should you spend your hard-earned cash on one?

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

This is the tricky because Australian pricing and specs are yet to be finalised.

However, we do know that there will be four versions of the Formentor available – each powered by a different engine that will be covered more in detail a bit later on.

If we had to guess, a stylish and sporty European SUV like this will probably start at around $45,000 drive-away in Australia, putting it up against the top-spec versions of the Hyundai Kona and Toyota C-HR, as well as the Mazda MX-30 and Renault Arkana.

Here in Ireland, where we’re testing the car, the Formentor starts at around 40,000 euros, but the test vehicle also came with a few extras which we should see in Australia.

Standard features include 18-inch two-tone wheels, sports front seats, LED headlights, three-zone climate control, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, automatic high beams and an all-digital instrument cluster.

Standard features include 18-inch two-tone wheels, sports front seats, LED headlights, three-zone climate control, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, automatic high beams and an all-digital instrument cluster. (Image: Tung Nguyen) Standard features include 18-inch two-tone wheels, sports front seats, LED headlights, three-zone climate control, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, automatic high beams and an all-digital instrument cluster. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

Keep in mind though, it's likely not all these items will make it Down Under. The heated steering wheel, for example, is a selling point in a country like Ireland where temperatures will regularly dip below zero, but is unnecessary in Sydney’s climate.

In our time with the car, the best features were no doubt the heated seats and tri-zone climate control, which let me and the whole family stay comfortable and toasty warm over a chilly Christmas!

Handling multimedia duties is a massive 12.0-inch touchscreen, which also incorporates the air-conditioning controls, as well as satellite navigation, driver profile selector, digital radio and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.

It’s a nice and comprehensive list of equipment you get as standard – at least here in Ireland – but there are a number of optional extras on this car too, adding around 6500 euros to the bottom line.

On the options list of this car, you’ll find premium paint, black leather for the seats, 19-inch black and copper wheels, a powered tailgate, Cupra’s 'Dynamic Chassis Control' and a side exit warning system.

Of all these extras, though, the powered tailgate is the only one that’s essential, and lets you pop the boot from your keys so you can just throw in your groceries and get moving.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   10/10

There might still be a rhetoric around SUVs being daggy and uncool, but the Cupra Formentor puts forward a strong argument that they can also be stylish and attention grabbing.

It probably helps that this is Cupra’s first standalone model – meaning it isn’t based on an existing Seat vehicle. And all the sharp edges and angles make it look like no other SUV available in Australia.

Cupra Formentor puts forward a strong argument that they can also be stylish and attention grabbing. (Image: Tung Nguyen) Cupra Formentor puts forward a strong argument that they can also be stylish and attention grabbing. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

One of the first things you’ll notice about the front end is this eye-catching badge, which features a copper-coloured emblem on a faux carbon-fibre background.

It sort of looks like one of those badges you’d see on a Transformer, and the aggressive overall styling means the Formentor would probably be one of those cool Decepticons, not a boring Autobot.

The front-end styling is also informed by sharp headlights and the unusual placement of the fog lights. But the latter is to leave room for functional bumper cut outs that feed air into the wheel wells.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the front end is this eye-catching badge. (Image: Tung Nguyen) One of the first things you’ll notice about the front end is this eye-catching badge. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

From the side, the Formentor’s SUV shape is evident, but there are some interesting flourishes.

Like the slightly sloped roofline and prominent hips that work together to shrink down the rear quarters, making for a more athletic and sporty appearance.

The 19-inch wheels with copper accents also tie in nicely with the brand’s badges, while the wheelarch cladding and side skirts are painted in a nice grey colour. No cheapy black plastic here.

The 19-inch wheels with copper accents also tie in nicely with the brand’s badges. (Image: Tung Nguyen) The 19-inch wheels with copper accents also tie in nicely with the brand’s badges. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

From the rear, the Formentor keeps up with the latest automotive trend of connected tail-lights, while the roof-mounted rear spoiler adds to its sporty flair.

One downside, however, is that dual exhaust outlets are fake! At least in the variant we are sampling here.

Spend a bit extra on a sportier grade and you will get genuine exhaust outlets.

Overall, the Formentor is an imposing and striking presence on the road. Exactly what you’d want from a stylish SUV.

Technology is the name of the game inside, and the youthful appeal of the Formentor is accentuated by a huge multimedia screen.

Technology is the name of the game inside, and the youthful appeal of the Formentor is accentuated by a huge multimedia screen. (Image: Tung Nguyen) Technology is the name of the game inside, and the youthful appeal of the Formentor is accentuated by a huge multimedia screen. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

Seriously, this thing is bigger than an iPad, and it functions like one, with a touchscreen, pinch to zoom and gesture controls.

The digital instrument cluster and interior ambient lighting are both customisable – which should really appeal to those with a light-up rainbow gaming keyboard.

The dashboard, steering wheel and air vent surrounds also feature copper highlights, which is a nice touch and ties back to the brand’s unique badge.

The Formentor’s looks might not be to everyone’s taste, but we’re a fan. It strikes the right balance between aggressive and sporty, and dare we say it, premium.

If attention is what you want, the Cupra Formentor should absolutely be on your shopping list.

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

The Formentor is classed as a small SUV, so don’t expect it to be able to haul a full family of five, but there is more usable space inside than you might think.

In the front seats, there is plenty of head-, leg- and shoulder-room for you to get comfy, and the test car's driver’s seat is electronically adjustable.

The Formentor is classed as a small SUV. (Image: Tung Nguyen) The Formentor is classed as a small SUV. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

Storage options include generous front door pockets with room for a large drink bottle, two cupholders in the middle which will happily seat a large drink from McDonalds (we’ve checked), a wireless smartphone tray, little storage trays on either side of the shifter (perfect for your wallet and keys), and a deep central cubby.

The tech-focused interior is on show from the front seats, too, with two USB-C ports for charging, while the controls for cabin temperature and media volume are handled by a touch-sensitive bar that responds to taps and slides.

Maybe I'm a bit too old school, but I’d prefer physical buttons for these controls, as driving and adjusting the temperature or volume can get tricky, especially because they don’t light up at night.

The multimedia screen and satellite navigation are also a bit slow to start up (what tech isn’t), but it means if you are running late, you’ll have to wait those agonising extra few seconds before you can input a destination and get moving.

In the back seat, you have a bit more space that you’d think for a coupe SUV, with ample head-, shoulder- and legroom for my 183cm gangly frame.

In the back seat, you have a bit more space that you’d think for a coupe SUV. (Image Tung Nguyen) In the back seat, you have a bit more space that you’d think for a coupe SUV. (Image Tung Nguyen)

The middle seat is a little tight, and would really only fit kids, but there is a fold-down armrest with cupholders when the space is unoccupied.

You’ll also find bottle-compatible door pockets, back-seat map storage, rear air vents and more USB-C ports, as well as ISOFIX points for child seats.

Looking at the spec sheet, the Formentor measures 4446mm long, 1839mm wide, 1520mm tall and sports a 2679mm wheelbase, making it a bit bigger, but also lower, than rivals like the Toyota C-HR and Hyundai Kona.

Boot space is rated at 420 litres. (image: Tung Nguyen) Boot space is rated at 420 litres. (image: Tung Nguyen)

That explains the generous interior space then, but it also means the Formentor can swallow a sizable 420 litres in the boot, making it more practical than some of its rivals.

The rear sears can also fold down, split 60/40, to accommodate longer objects.

The rear seats feature a 60/40 split fold. (image: Tung Nguyen) The rear seats feature a 60/40 split fold. (image: Tung Nguyen)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

Powering this Formentor is a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder petrol engine – the same one you’ll find under the bonnet of the Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen T-Roc.

Like its Volkswagen Group cousins, the Formentor makes 110kW and 250Nm, and if that sounds a bit underwhelming given the Cupra’s aggressive looks, we’ve got a bit of good news for you.

This engine will not be coming to Australia, the Cupra coming to market with a trio of more potent 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engines, as well as a flagship plug-in hybrid.

Powering this Formentor is a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder petrol engine. (Image: Tung Nguyen) Powering this Formentor is a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder petrol engine. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

In Australia, the entry-level engine will be tuned to 140kW/320Nm, while the next version up will punch out 180kW/370Nm to match that of the Golf GTI and Skoda Octavia RS.

The sportiest version of the Formentor will be equipped with a mighty 228kW/400Nm that should be enough to frighten hot hatches like the Hyundai i30 N and Ford Focus ST.

And for those that want a more frugal powertrain, there is the plug-in hybrid combining a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine with an electric motor for a combined output of 180kW.

Drive will be sent to either the front or all four wheels via a dual-clutch automatic transmission, with seven speeds for the 2.0-litre petrol models and a six-speed unit for the plug-in.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Official fuel consumption figures for this Cupra are pegged at 6.7 litres per 100km, and in our time with the car, we managed to average 7.9L/100km with a good mix of inner-city, highway and country driving.

Keep in mind, though, the car was often blasting heat into the cabin, and fully loaded with luggage, passengers and baby gear, increasing the consumption figure.

And again, this engine won’t make it to Australia, meaning local cars will have higher fuel consumption averages due to more potent 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engines.

All versions of the Australian Formentor that is, barring the flagship plug-in hybrid version, which should sip about 1.5L/100km thanks to a battery pack that enables around 55km of tailpipe emissions free driving.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

The Cupra Formentor has not been tested by ANCAP, but Euro NCAP has awarded it a full five-star rating from its testing in 2021, with high scores for adult and child occupant protection thanks to its large array of safety systems.

With Australian specifications still up in the air, our local Formentors may differ from this one, but as reference, the Cupra small SUV is fitted with tyre pressure monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, driver fatigue monitor, traffic sign recognition, automatic high beams, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and autonomous emergency braking as standard.

Our test car was also fitted with blind-spot monitoring and a handy exit warning feature, which lets you know of any potential dangers upon egress.

Our test car was also fitted with blind-spot monitoring and a handy exit warning feature. (Image: Tung Nguyen) Our test car was also fitted with blind-spot monitoring and a handy exit warning feature. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

 If a crash is unavoidable there are front and side, as well as a centre airbag for the front seat occupants, plus side curtains covering both rows.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   9/10

All Cupras sold in Australia will come with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, which matches the assurance period offered by most top 10 brands like Toyota, Mazda and Hyundai.

But the Cupra warranty falls short of the industry-leading 10 years offered by Mitsubishi, as well as the seven years on offer from Kia.

Scheduled servicing intervals are yet to be confirmed, but will likely match that of existing Volkswagen and Skoda models that share the same powertrains – meaning every 12 months/15,000km.

Pricing for servicing is also yet to be revealed, but Cupra could offer up three- and five-year service plans like sister brands Volkswagen and Skoda that allow customers to save a bit of money when paying up front.

Don’t expect to be servicing your car at a specific Cupra dealership though, as all models will be sold online and maintenance will be carried out at a Volkswagen, Skoda or even Audi centres.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

It’s no big surprise that a performance brand like Cupra would deliver a sporty SUV like this Formentor.

From the driver’s seat, all the controls are nicely located and the steering feels well-weighted with lots of feedback.

This car also comes with a drive-mode selector that firms up the steering and sharpens engine/transmission response. But even in its softest setting, the Formentor is plenty of fun to punt about.

 The steering feels well-weighted with lots of feedback. (Image: Tung Nguyen) The steering feels well-weighted with lots of feedback. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

The 1.5-litre four feels underpowered, especially out on Irish freeways with a speed limit of 120km/h.

But then again, this engine will not be coming to Australia, so every Formentor you drive will be much punchier than this 110kW model.

We’re particularly excited for the full-fat 229kW variant which promises to be a proper hot hatch rival, as well as giving the Hyundai Kona N a run for its money.

Either way, the dual-clutch automatic transmission is one of the best we’ve sampled, and doesn’t suffer from that low-speed jitteriness that plagues some models.

Shifts are smooth and quick, and throwing it into sport mode will hold the gears a bit longer, but you can always do it yourself via the steering wheel-mounted paddles.

The Formentor is a tidy little package overall, and we’re glad to report it feels much more like a sporty hatchback behind the feel than a high-riding SUV.

Verdict

The Formentor is a stylish small SUV in the same vein as the Hyundai Kona or Toyota C-HR.

Backing up the attention-grabbing style is a ready, willing and eager chassis, and when this car lands in Australia with more powerful engines, it’s going to be a hoot to drive.

The tech-heavy interior might not be to everyone’s tastes, but those straddling the line between millennial and Gen Z will be right at home behind the wheel of the Cupra Formentor.

EXPERT RATING
8.5
Price and features7
Design10
Practicality9
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Safety9
Ownership9
Driving9
Tung Nguyen
News Editor

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