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Discreet Treat: 2023 Cupra Formentor V e-Hybrid First Drive

Spanish brand Cupra have wasted no time since the New Zealand launch of their first EV ( Born V+) earlier this year. Now they’ve added a second electrified offering to the range, this time a PHEV for those still wanting to hold onto some form of combustion driving!

Say ‘ola’ to the Cupra Formentor V e-Hybrid, a name with quite a bit to it but one fitting of a car with the same! Formentor has proved to be New Zealand’s favourite Cupra model thus far and it’s no surprise that this new e-Hybrid model becomes the fourth addition to the range and the second most powerful at that.

Slotting below the VZ on power, the V e-Hybrid uses a 1.4 litre turbocharged EA211 Evo four-cylinder engine coupled with a 12.8kWhr battery. The result is 180kW of power and 400Nm of torque, a figure restricted by the gearbox. The box is an intelligent triple clutch DSG unit, with the extra clutch used to facilitate changing over between EV and combustion modes while a 6-speed DSG handles the rest. There is plenty to shift too, 262kgs more to be exact but still, the V e-Hybrid manages a claimed efficiency figure of 1.3L/100km! The best I could do was in the 5L/100km range but I was driving a Cupra like it should be, in Cupra mode too.

A photo of three 2023 Cupra Formentor V e-Hybrid's in a row. Painted in White, Grey and Tech respectively.
V e-Hybrid is the second most powerful Formentor in the NZ range

Despite this extra weight, the Formentor V e-Hybrid will do the 0-100kph sprint in 7s flat and will go for a claimed 54kms WLTP EV only range, EV only is also the default setting on start-up. Priced at $78,500 and eligible for a $4,025 rebate, the brand’s first PHEV has plenty to show for on paper but it doesn’t look like much has changed as far as the actual car is concerned!

Electric filler flap on the 2023 Cupra Formentor V e-Hybrid.
Electric filler flap is fitted on the opposite side of the petrol filler, no matter the market

Aha, that’s where Cupra have exercised discretion! Certainly an unconventional approach from a brand that doesn’t normally try to fly under the radar, just take a look at their UrbanRebel or DarkRebel concepts! Those observant among you may have already spotted some differences but I will point them out anyway. On the front left hand side, there is an extra filler flap for charging the battery while at the rear, the “simulated exhausts” are now accented in Copper and that’s it!

A close-up on the Copper simulated exhaust tips on a 2023 Cupra Formentor V e-Hybrid.
Copper “simulated exhaust tips” are another discrete marker of the e-Hybrid model

While in the car’s actual architecture, the only change is the removal of a spare wheel which has been replaced by the battery pack. That does mean a tyre patch up kit replaces the spare but also means the e-Hybrid benefits from better weight balance.

The battery itself can be utilized in four different ways via the new ‘Battery Manager’ menu on the infotainment screen. ‘e-Mode’ is the EV only option while ‘Hybrid’ does what it says on the tin! ‘Personalized’ is the intelligent one which allows you to set a minimum battery percentage to be maintained so you can happily drive into those EV only zones that some major cities have. Lastly, the ‘e-Manager’ menu presents the fourth use, via the ability to set charging times and pre-condition the cabin before you step in.

Rear three quarters view of the 2023 Cupra Formentor V e-Hybrid.
Formentor V e-Hybrid is more closely related to top spec VZ when it comes to equipment

Speaking of stepping in, that’s what we were doing next after the information filled presentation from Cupra GM, James Yates. The interior itself shares more with the Formentor VZ, only lacking a Beats audio system, top-view camera and dynamic steering wheel. Instead, the e-Hybrid offers the ‘Agile Pack’ as standard, adding heated front seats, automatic parking and 19-inch alloys but the cool Copper highlighted wheels are a further $600 extra.

A view of three 2023 Cupra Formentor V e-Hybrid cars.
Colours are aplenty but matte paint options take the e-Hybrid out of eligibility for rebates

Our drive for the day would take two hours through the South-Eastern region of Auckland and incorporate both motorway as well as twisty back road stuff, allowing us to test the V e-Hybrid in the places where it will spend most of its life. On the motorway, it was as comfy as you like. The ride was smooth with a hint of firmness to remind you that it is still a Cupra. With Cupra’s DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) as standard on the e-Hybrid, a firmer ride is just a click away with Cupra mode stiffening up the steering wheel, sharpening the throttle response and using both powertrains to deliver full power.

Close-up photo of the Cupra logo on the front of a 2023 Cupra Formentor V e-Hybrid.
The Cupra spirit is still apparent in the Formentor V e-Hybrid

Yes, the Formentor e-Hybrid will sit comfortably on the motorway but the twisty roads is where its new set-up really shines. The better balance and twin powertrain approach made perfect sense, keeping the car planted around even the more tighter corners, offering an extremely reassuring drive. Agility is certainly a strength of this car with the hybrid powertrain remaining strong once into the triple digit speeds too! With the stomach churning done, it was time for the stomach filling with a lunch stop at The Farmhouse Cafe in Clevedon. Like the car, its appeal may appear discreet at first but once explored, proves a treat to the senses!

Interior view of the new Cupra Auckland dealership in Grey Lynn, Auckland.
Expect this lineup to keep expanding over the coming years!

A pastrami sandwich and (rather rich) brownie later, it was time to get back on the road. This trip would require sampling the more compliant side of the Cupra more so and once again, it did not disappoint. Returning to our home base for the day which was Giltrap Cupra’s new home at 174 Great North Road in Grey Lynn, a temporary one though with the brand set for a shift in 2025 to a more prominent site down the road. By then, Cupra will have at least one more PHEV on sale with a Leon V Sports Tourer e-Hybrid set to arrive early next year, using the same powertrain as this Formentor but priced at $77,900.

The new home of Giltrap Cupra Auckland at 174 Great North Road, Grey Lynn.
Cupra’s new Auckland home is home to their ever expanding range

There’s a lot going on for the Spanish brand currently too with the Formentor VZ and Tavascan having being added to the Forza Horizon 5 videogame with the Tavascan expected to reach our shores in 2025. By then, Cupra should also have at least two more dealers across NZ too.

As you can see, Cupra is a brand on the move and their EV/e-Hybrid division has an exciting future. More to come!

Thanks for reading! For more Cupra news and reviews, visit Tarmac Life.

Thanks for the invite and hospitality, Cupra NZ! Words and photos by Matthew D’Souza.

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