Martin purchased this Cupra Formentor new with additional options for $56,740 (including all on-road costs). Martin would buy this car again because: “The Formentor is strikingly beautiful and unique, and really stands out from what is a very bland medium-SUV market. It represents excellent value for the performance and features you get, though if I had the chance I’d opt for the top-spec VZx and those 228kW!”
Since buying the car in November 2022, I’ve already clocked up 15,000km. In that time I’ve found it to be very reliable, with the exception of a few electronic gremlins.
The radar-dependent safety features (such as adaptive cruise, pre-collision braking, etc) will occasionally switch off, with a warning message popping up to say the ‘Front Assist has been disabled’. This can then last anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes before going away and everything returning to normal.
Adjusting the volume while on a call via wireless Apple CarPlay seems to make the volume up function inoperative once the call has ended.
However my largest issue with the car is the keyless entry. It usually takes three/four grabs of the door handle to unlock the doors, and other times they won’t unlock at all unless you use the key fob. If you’re someone who regularly gets chased by people and needs to hastily get in your car for a quick getaway, best you avoid the Cupra.
Other than that, mechanically it’s been faultless.
So far owning this car has been great. Most people you come across have never heard of Cupra, so everyone always shows a lot of interest in the car. It turns a lot of heads and stands out from a bland medium SUV market.
Most importantly though, the Formentor is a perfect every day car. Sprightly performance from the 140kW/320Nm Formentor V, deceptively large cabin space and high-tech functionality mean this car is practical for all your daily needs.
It is worth noting though that being a new brand, certain elements of ownership can be inconvenient, such as trying to find accessories or parts to suit the car; Cupra doesn’t appear on many make/model drop-down lists.
Having already had my first scheduled service completed, the entire exercise was simple and quick (and free thanks to Cupra’s complimentary three-year service plan) – but be aware that Cupra only have one authorised service centre in each capital city, so if you live out in the sticks you may struggle getting someone to service it, and will not be able to take advantage of any service plans applied.
The purchase experience was pretty average. While the sales staff at the Cupra Garage (dealership) were excellent to deal with, they were restricted by the systems in place by Cupra’s agency model.
The brand was also advertising a 2.99 per cent finance rate through Cupra Finance (Volkswagen Finance), but due to being understaffed, applying for this finance was incredibly difficult and took weeks for any sort of progress – even if the car you had put a deposit on was already at the dealership waiting to be delivered.
Taking delivery on the other hand was fine and the handover process was detailed and thorough.
The Cupra Formentor isn’t a cheap car, but for what you get it represents fantastic value.
Despite the Formentor V being the entry spec, the main difference between it and the top-spec VZx is in the power output, with even the base Formentor V fitted with almost all the same features, including all active safety systems and infotainment/technology features.
The Formentor V comes with black cloth seats with leather accents. I opted for the ‘leather and power pack’ which adds leather seats (heated in the front), electric adjustment with memory for the driver and an electric handsfree tailgate.
The leather looks and feels premium, the seats are very comfortable and the side bolsters are very effective around corners. The driver’s seat includes lumbar support, but it’s very flimsy and creaks like the weight of me will break it at any moment.
Some sources claim the leather and power pack also adds the Beats sound system (minus subwoofer) from the VZx, but I have no way of verifying this. The sound system is nothing to write home about, but then neither was the Beats system in the top-spec I test drove.
Disappointingly, the Formentor does not come with ventilated seats in any spec, which at this price point should be standard. European OEMs need to understand that in Australia six months of the year are hot!
With this leather pack added, the only thing you miss out on by buying the V over the top-spec VZx (aside from performance) are the 19-inch wheels, quad exhaust, subwoofer, and blue leather trim.
The Formentor V does not come with a spare wheel, only a tyre inflation kit, which is a bit farcical at this price point.
The Formentor V has a spirited 140kW and 320Nm of torque, and while that doesn’t sound like much when compared to its faster 228kW sibling, it’s still very sufficient for everyday driving.
In ‘Sport’ mode gear changes are brisk and throttle response is instantaneous. That being said, the dual clutch system is a bit slow off the mark when accelerating from a standstill.
The 0-100 sprint is claimed to be 7.1 seconds, ironically only 0.3 seconds slower than the mid-spec Formentor VZ, which has 40 more kWs but makes do with a FWD drivetrain.
The Formentor V lacks any exhaust sound, which is a shame because the lack of noise makes this car seem more tame than it is. You do get the occasional induction noise from the turbocharger though.
In the default ‘Comfort’ mode though is where disappointment lies. Gear changes are much slower, with the car hesitating to find the right gears if you need a quick burst of speed. Moving off from a standstill is sluggish, and I can only assume that this is due to the car possibly starting in second or third gear for efficiency.
The car also has an Eco mode, which will stop the engine revs when you take your foot off the throttle at cruising speeds. How big an impact this has on consumption I’m not sure, but it does mean you will find yourself tapping the brakes a bit more in heavier traffic to make up for the lack of engine braking. Fuel consumption varies between 6.5 and 8.5L/100km, though with sprightly driving in Sport mode you’re likely to see it around 9-10 L/100km.
I frequently get 650-750km out of a single tank. Minimum RON requirement is 95.
The Formentor comes with two screens in the front, a large 12-inch infotainment system and a 10-inch digital cockpit. These sizes are standard across the entire Formentor range in Australia. The digital cockpit is clear and highly customisable.
The infotainment system is a bit daunting and takes getting used to, particularly given almost every function of the car is controlled through it. It does work very well though and thankfully most icons and menus in it are large and easy to select while driving. With that said, some physical buttons would still be a safer option.
The digital cockpit and cruise control are controlled via the steering wheel. Frustratingly though, all controls for your headlights, fog lights (front and rear) and window defoggers are on a touchpad located next to your right knee, which is impossible to use while driving without completely taking your eyes off the road.
An LED strip that runs the full width of the dashboard and continues onto the front doors provides gorgeous ambient lighting at night, and doubles as your blind-spot monitor, and the heated steering wheel has been terrific on winter mornings. Three-zone climate control also means I can defrost my kids in winter without overheating myself in the front.
My biggest gripe with the Formentor however lies in the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). It is ridiculously cautious, and there is no option to switch between adaptive and traditional cruise control. Even with the proximity set to “Very Close”, the Formentor sits miles behind the car in front.
Let me explain why this is a problem for me. Driving on Sydney’s motorways, if you are travelling in the right-hand lane and leave even the slightest gap other drivers will poach that gap. With the large space the Formentor tries to keep in front of itself, you’ll find other drivers constantly jumping in front of you, slowing you down regularly as the ACC tries to create a bigger space again.
The ACC also won’t allow you to undertake a car on your right unless you tap the accelerator to override this setting. So if you just want to set the cruise control and drive in the left lane (because let’s face it, it’s the quickest lane these days), you’re continually blipping the throttle, which defeats the purpose of cruise control.
It’s probably not a big issue for most, but as I travel 600+ km a week, I use cruise control a lot. Have I learned to live with it? Yes. Would I have considered buying another car if I’d known about it beforehand? Maybe.
The Formentor is lovely to drive. The progressive steering is brilliant and one of the standout features of the car.
Turning is precise and effortless without being un-lively, and makes the car incredibly nimble on bendy roads. The AWD system is excellent and makes the driving dynamic feel more like that of a Subaru, always confident and assuring in corners. You can also configure it to be rear-biased for extra fun.
The suspension sits on the firmer side, but without compromising comfort, and provides good stability and minimal body roll. Adjustable dampers also make it easy to pick a sweet spot for your driving style.
Road noise can be a bit loud at times, but no more than you’d find in most other cars.
The second row of the Formentor is deceptively roomy. I’m 186cm (6’1”) and can comfortably sit behind my driver’s position with ample knee and head room. I have two front-facing child seats fitted without an issue, and enough room left so my youngest can’t kick the seat in front.
The boot is big enough for my daily needs and will easily hold a pram or a couple of suitcases, but if you’re looking for a car for your next big family getaway, this is not it.
The Formentor is a great car to live with. It regularly turns heads, and many people will ask you what it is.
The entry level offers great value, with most features included across the full Formentor range, and the AWD system putting its outputs almost on par with the FWD Formentor VZ, which costs around $6,000 more.
The Formentor’s modern design and focus on technology set it apart from other brands and the entire Cupra range feels fresh in an industry where most cars look the same.
Despite a couple of grievances, as my first European car and first brand from the Volkswagen Group, the copper is gold!