“That’s the Spanish sportscar brand” said a lady to her friend as she spotted the Cupra sign next to a group of us journalists having lunch at Bracu restaurant, a comment that was much to the glee of Cupra NZ’s GM James Yates.
The obviously well-informed lady was correct, essentially Cupra (Cup Racing) is in fact the pointy performance end of Spanish vehicle giant SEAT, however, despite rapid growth both brands are as yet still lesser known in NZ, (hence the glee from Yates).
We had just spent the morning learning about and more importantly driving the ‘Spanish sportscar brand’s’ latest release, the Formentor with the VZ (Veloz) model being the main course before lunch and the V awaiting us for desert.
Simply put, the new Cupra Formentor (named after Cape Formentor in Spain) is what you get when you cross a sportscar and an SUV together, and the result is fabulous.
Proportionally it’s really easy on the eye with a well designed and sculpted body that looks both athletic and road hugging, which is exactly what it is. Sharp bonnet lines flow down to meet a lattice’d grille boasting a copper Cupra logo in the centre. The headlights have a menacing look, especially with the uniquely shaped LED DRLs and there are plenty of vents both on the lower valance and side curtains to ensure air flow and aerodynamics are more than catered for.
The Formentor’s profile is a work of art with a strong shoulder line that fades towards the rear doors where it meets with another brush stroke design line that rises and protrudes above the rear quarter panel. The 19-inch machined copper alloys that fill the extended wheel arches are a standout too!
As well as quad tail pipes (on the VZ model) the Formentor’s rear also sports a ‘coast to coast’ light bar that runs the entire width of the tail while another copper Cupra badge is there to complete the view. Like I said, this is one handsome looking ride.
Our morning had consisted of a near two and a half hour route along the winding roads that surround North Waikato, a perfect way to get to know the Formentor’s refined interior and play with it’s excitable powertrain and suspension.
Leather and aluminium fill the cabin and virtually every surface comes with contrast copper accents, it may sound too much but it really isn’t. In fact there’s a very uncluttered feel about the space, aided by the lack of both a large gear stick (it’s drive by wire) and switches, thanks to its 12-inch colour touchscreen. The latter comes loaded with wireless Apple and Android, heaps of Apps, Beats Audio and Navigation while the Formentor itself offers Blind Spot monitoring (that flashes amber on the interior surround), Travel Assist, Side and Exit Assist, a cocooning airbag system… I could go on.
Free of traffic were able to unleash the VZ’s 2L turbo engine. Offering up 228kW of power, 400Nm of Torque, the Formentor’s heart has a lot to give. 0-100km/h is achieved in 4.9 seconds and the speedo will (apparently) keep going up until it reaches 250km/h (9L/100km efficiency and 203g/km CO2). But it also puts this power to the ground well thanks to its 7-Speed DSG and 4Drive AWD. The steering becomes more weighted the faster you go and what’s more, ESC, ASR and XDS Diff lock are all there to ensure you take the corners without drama, although it never actually interfered with our spirited drive.
The VZ is frisky when you want it to be and rather placid when not being pushed too, there is a small amount of lag if you surprise the throttle but the Formentor surprised me back with the way it handled – At times I was thankful for the bolstering on bucket seats.
Following lunch we were all given the keys to a V model for the drive back to town, and also given the option to take SH1 or the long way back, we took the latter.
In many ways the V is more of the same, certainly in terms of looks and offerings, however the engine is less powerful (140kW/320Nm), it has less drive mode options and a little less refinement (such as there’s no ‘sporty’ start button on the steering wheel). It does jump up to 100km/h in a not too shabby 7.1 seconds and it too is 4Drive so the handling is great. I actually enjoyed the drive back more than I probably should have but given the choice, I’d opt for the VZ.
Our first drive time behind the wheel may have been limited but I have to say the Cupra Formentor does what it says on the tin. It’s great looking, nimble, technologically advanced and full of fabulous Spanish flair – I can’t wait for the follow up drive.