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Urban Rebel: 2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition Review

Crossovers and small SUVs certainly are the flavour of the decade where the car industry is concerned. With the likes of platform sharing and general styling constraints that SUVs face, the result has been a segment where many cars look rather alike. However, the same can’t be said for the Cupra Formentor.

Defiant by nature, ‘Urban Rebel’ is actually the name of a concept vehicle from the Spanish brand. However, I felt that the description fitted the Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition perfectly as you too will see throughout this review.

Front three quarters view of a Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition in an urban setting.
Tribe Edition builds on the unmistakable styling of the Formentor VZ

The “challenger nature” of Cupra translates extremely well into the styling. From all angles, the Formentor is sharp looking and is hard to mistake for anything else in the category. It gets plenty of unique Cupra touches especially in the lights. At the front, the distinctive headlamps identify it as a Cupra product while at the rear, the Infinite Light bar is a noteworthy feature.

One again, I found many curious onlookers taking a moment away from their phones to try and discern more about the car. This certain adds a flavour of exclusivity to the Cupra brand while this particular car takes that one step further!

A night photo of a Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition with Auckland City in the background.
Infinite Light bar is an eye catching feature!

As if the Formentor VZ wasn’t eye catching enough, adding the Tribe Edition extras brings a whole other angle to the car! Starting with the paint colour which is supposedly ‘Cliff Gray’ although it appeared more like a dark green shade to my eyes. Still, an excellent colour scheme and one that contrasts well with the 19 inch matte black alloy wheels, also specific to this edition. The badging on the rear also had a unique finish to denote the Tribe Edition trim of this car, as did parts of the interior.

The Tribe Edition’s biggest party trick on the interior comes in the form of its seats which were ‘DINAMICA’ black bucket units in my review car. I enjoyed the sporty feeling they provided especially when cornering sharply but they were still kind enough to my aging back! A tricky mix but one that Cupra have certainly done correctly. The brand’s other interior party trick is with the steering. A flat bottomed leather wrapped unit, it gives you a sporty feel, one that becomes especially apparent with the addition of the ‘Cupra mode’ shortcut button.

Cupra shortcut button on the steering wheel of the Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition
Just one push of a button can change your drive!

To understand more about what each drive mode offers, you can dive into the infotainment system! In the same way, the screen also offers plenty of connectivity options as well as housing the control centre for the air conditioning. I’ve already expressed my grief with the touch capacitive bars in my Leon V review so I won’t repeat myself here.

Interior photo of a Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition with Auckland City in the background.
Steering wheel, seats and upgraded audio are three aspects that headline the interior!

The Formentor VZ Tribe Edition however offers some consolation via the upgraded Beats audio system, it didn’t quite exceed my expectations but at the same time, my acquired music taste isn’t so bass heavy as is the strength of Beats.

Upgraded Beats audio system in focus on the interior of the 2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition.
Upgraded Beats audio system is included in the Tribe Edition.

Yes, some might say the Cupra’s styling is an acquired taste but in my opinion, they’ve done really well to separate the Formentor Tribe Edition from the rest of the pack. You can’t mistake it! Then there’s the way it drives as well which is also unmistakably Cupra. The 2L turbo is always happy to be raucous via the quad exhaust pipes, a trait that was particularly apparent to me one morning where an elderly gentleman gave me the two fingered salute as I drove by. Equally puzzling considering I wasn’t even in Cupra mode!

Rear three quarters view of a 2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition.
Quad exhaust pipes play a particularly enjoyable tune in Cupra mode!

Cupra mode then can be activated by the push of a button on the steering wheel. Instantly, the throttle response quickens and the exhaust comes to life. This is a particularly fun activity to engage in on a tunnel run where the ‘pops and bangs’ of the quad pipes can echo through! Formentor VZ Tribe Edition is equally as engaging in the corners, the 4Drive all wheel drive system offering plenty of grip no matter the surface condition. With 228kW and 400Nm on tap combined with a 7-speed DSG gearbox, the whole combination is a feast for the keener drivers among us.

Close-up of the light bar on a 2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition with Auckland City in the background.
Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition stands out in the city!

In all honesty, my week with the Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition was a trip down memory lane because in many ways, it reminded me of the fun filled persona that my old MK6 Golf GTI offered. As such, the Formentor VZ Tribe Edition is sort of like a hot hatch for grown ups, well suited to the needs of city life but at the same time, still true to the defiant nature of the Cupra tribe. An ‘Urban Rebel’, if you will!

2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition 4/5

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

Car courtesy of Cupra Motors NZ and EMD. Words and photos by Matthew D’Souza.

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