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Wednesday - 14 April 2021

BMW X2 M35i vs Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 vs CUPRA Formentor VZ

In the unlikely event you’ve yet to read this month’s copy of Sweden’s #1 motoring magazine – Auto Motor & Sport – close your eyes because it’s spoiler time!

In a massive 3-way test, Mikael Johnsson and his team of unforgiving test drivers lined up the best go-fast and have-fun cars that European car giants have put together for 2021. From BMW we have the absolutely brilliant BMW X2 M35i, Mercedes put in their Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 and from the Volkswagen Group we have the new Porsche… no, sorry… Audi RS Q…. umm, no. Turns out it’s the CUPRA Formentor VZ, which we’ve only heard rumours about over here in Aotearoa. Maybe it is real after all!

Whilst the rumours are good, does the CUPRA really belong alongside masterpieces from BMW’s M-department and Mercedes’ AMG garage?

BMW X2 M35i

The first test in any Swedish car review is the parking between two igloos test. BMW passed.

The priciest of the three is the Bavarian variant that costs 565,000 Swedish herrings (or $94,000 here) and didn’t get any Swedish pulses racing. They found the drive lacking in performance unless he really put his foot through the floor and the car’s understeer was found to be somewhat unnerving.

That said, it’s a well-built BMW and it’s a phenomenal car to drive. It’s easy to find a comfortable position and it’s a practical everyday driver

CUPRA Formentor VZ

The CUPRA’s individual mode retention was a crowd favourite in Sweden.

Without a doubt one of the most anticipated cars of 2021. The Formentor VZ – veloz, which means fast in Spanish – is built on VW’s MQB Evo platform and churns out a rather respectable 310 HP to all 4 wheels through its Haldex system and 7-speed DSG box.

The Formentor came in 3rd in the European Car of the Year awards and, let’s be honest, that’s nothing to be sniffed at for the Spanish performance brand.

The Formentor has a lot of highlights. The engine, brakes, handling, soundtrack… it’s a car that drove the Swedes “wild”. Last time that happened, the Vikings ran over much of Europe! It’s not quite as consistent as the GLB, but the Swedes found it to be a lot more fun than the X2.

The biggest surprise for the Swedes was that the Formentor was the most comfortable car out of the three. A claim we’d really like to verify once the Formentor arrives in New Zealand.

Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4MATIC

Looks harmless, but it’s wild and mischievous.

The AMG is a borefest as a daily driver. Gearbox is slow. The car is unresponsive. It’s just all kinds of average… until you hit the Sport and Sport+ dials and the car comes alive. Out of the three, this is the one that let’s you have the most fun on snowy roads. That’ll come in real handy for us here.

The Swedes were also less than impressed with the noise level in the GLB. Lots of road and tyre noise due to poor insulation and interior trims rattled during their drive.

That said – you can’t get the two others as 7-seaters and if you want a family racer, this is the one.

So… who won?

CUPRA Formentor beat its BMW and Mercedes-AMG rivals to the gold medal position.

The Swedes take a pretty comprehensive and scientific approach to scoring here. They make their judgement based on ownership and everyday life, travel and comfort and finally the fun factor of the car… how much can you love the car. Very cute.

On this Swedish scale, love and all, the winner here is the CUPRA Formentor with the Mercedes-AMG coming second and the BMW X2 M35i coming in distant third.

The Swedes have answered the initial question – does CUPRA belong alongside BMW M and Mercedes-AMG cars – and answer emphatically they did. Not only does CUPRA belong there and hold its own, the Catalan challenger shines bright and above its established German rivals.

So hurry up CUPRA… bring those Formentors into New Zealand already!

CUPRA showing off that Barcelona chic design.

You can read the entire comparison in the latest Auto Motor & Sport Magazine and all imagery has been shamelessly taken from there. Knowledge of the Swedish language may prove to be a distinct advantage.

Setti Mulari
Nerd. Dad. Probably lived in more countries than you. Will stop to stare at nice cars.

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