You’ve seen it in pics, and we’ve driven it on track and overseas. Now, the wait is finally over: Cupra has officially launched in Australia, headed by the 2022 Cupra Formentor SUV.
With sales now formally underway, the Volkswagen-owned Spanish performance brand has bold intentions, eyeing off significant sales and mass-market acceptance.
That makes the launch of the Cupra Formentor SUV – the jewel of the initial Cupra range, so to speak – particularly important.
How does it fare on Aussie roads? Let’s find out…
Cupra lands in Oz with three key models initially: the 2022 Cupra Formentor mid-size coupe-style SUV tested here, the Leon hatch and the Ateca small SUV.
Of those three it is the Cupra Formentor that establishes itself as the biggest sales drawcard, considering the Leon finds itself in the shrinking hatchback segment and the Ateca is likely to be a one-hit wonder – understood to be offered for a solitary generation before making way for new EV models.
Using Volkswagen’s MQB architecture as its base, the Formentor is said to be a unique body option within the Volkswagen Group’s ranks.
Its pricing suggests as much. Entry into the range starts at $50,690 plus on-road costs for the Formentor V with 4Drive all-wheel drive.
From there, customers strangely move to a front-driven second-tier Formentor VZ (from $53,790) before reverting back to all-paw power with the penultimate VZe plug-in hybrid (from $60,990).
At the top of the range resides the 228kW/400Nm VZx AWD flagship driven here, at $61,490 plus on-road costs.
That positioning sets the Cupra Formentor VZx in amongst Volkswagen Tiguan R, Skoda Kodiaq RS and Audi SQ2 contemporaries.
Standard equipment across all Formentor grades includes LED headlights and daytime running lights, LED tail-lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated and powered side mirrors, cloth seats, keyless entry and start, three-zone climate control, a reversing camera (a 360-degree camera will become available in 2023 production) and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Also standard on the VZx is a Leather and Power package that costs $2750 extra on lesser Formentor grades and includes leather seats (heated up front), driver’s seat power adjustment and position memory, mirror memory function and hands-free tailgate, while a panoramic sunroof costs an additional $2100.
You can also option a Brembo brake package if you so wish.
On the safety front, the Cupra Formentor is backed by a five-star ANCAP safety rating (2021) based on New Zealand variants.
The car’s basic safety suite includes front assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane assist, park assist, side assist with exit assist, adaptive cruise control, ‘travel assist’ and pre-crash warning.
The Cupra Formentor is backed by a complimentary three-year servicing offer, a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, five years of roadside assist and a guaranteed future value program.
Indeed, one of the telling features of real-world ownership will be how resale values materialise in the future.
Cupra claims the 2022 Cupra Formentor is a standalone body style for good reason. It is!
Measuring 4450mm long, 1839mm wide and 1511mm high, and punctuated by a raked ‘coupe-like’ roofline, the Formentor finds itself in clear air compared with other Volkswagen Group offerings.
About the closest on paper and in price is the Audi SQ2, which measures 20cm shorter.
As we’ll soon learn, those proportions endow the Cupra Formentor with an accomplished on-road skillset, yet also impose a relatively snug rear seat space and a small 420-litre boot.
Underneath the bonnet, the Cupra Formentor offers three different tunes of the Volkswagen Group’s EA888 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine. The VZe model’s plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain is the exception to the rule, combining a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack.
Here, we’re focusing on the volume-selling VZx grade, a performance-oriented flagship which shuffles drive to all four wheels and offers total outputs of 228kW and 400Nm.
Earlier this year, we were given free rein in the 2022 Cupra Formentor VZx at Eastern Creek and it passed the test with flying colours.
But herein lies the closer and more important examination of the performance model: how it fares on Australian roads.
It’s more good news, as far as we’re concerned. The Formentor VZx ably balances its dynamic skillset with comfortable and liveable ride and handling mix.
Once again, the EA888 engine is the star of the show.
There’s a welcome increase in sound and theatre compared with other VW spin-offs. Burying the accelerator while in the sportiest Cupra setting elicits tractable go-forward from the 2.0-litre turbo-four together with off-throttle flutters, cracks and pop.
It pulls hard through to its 6500rpm rev ceiling and wafts a lovely warble – not unlike the Audi RS 3 five-pot – through the cabin under acceleration at the same time.
For all the shared mechanical attributes of the VZx, respective to other Volkswagen product, it happily has its own distinctive flavour on the road.
Another pleasing attribute is there’s ample feedback through the cabin in the form of some road noise and feeling via the key controls. This isn’t a criticism; in fact, it means the VZx avoids the overly-assisted dynamics of other like-minded performance SUVs.
At the same time the ride is controlled and occasionally firm, but largely avoids thudding and crashing. Even on coarse-chip bitumen.
Naturally, there’s a customary hesitation upon taking off – a symptom of the DSG gearbox and some lag – but from that point on power is expedient and plentiful, helped by its front-biased all-wheel drive system that aids in grip, but less so tail-wagging playfulness.
The Formentor plies traction down admirably out of greasy hairpin corners and isn’t afraid of some wheelspin before intervention from the stability control suite.
This again adds to the character of the vehicle and helps set it apart from the performance SUV crowd.
Those traits are compounded by well-weighted steering, excellent body control and a communicative chassis that offers expediency and stability during fast changes in direction.
While that might sound like a moot point in a family-friendly SUV, clearly the Cupra Formentor is going after a different buyer set.
And the back seat and boot demonstrate why.
From the driver’s seat, there’s adequate vision at front and moderate vision at the rear, impinged marginally by the raked roofline.
Similarly, the cockpit adopts bits and pieces from other VW Group models, including a Porsche 911-esque gear shifter, VW-centric screens and switchgear and even an Audi/Lamborghini starter button on the steering wheel.
The key touchpoints appear appropriately soft for this price, and there’s a quality premise to everyday controls.
The more time we spent in the Formentor, the more evident it becomes that the dashboard centre fascia is perhaps too minimalist, with none of the hardwired shortcut buttons offered in like-minded VW product.
That means the entire infotainment, climate control and safety systems are heavily reliant on the centre touch-screen. Sometimes, buttons are simply easier.
The rear seat space is relatively snug, with a high-set window line and limited knee-room, shoulder-room and headroom. There’s enough space for a couple of adults on shorter journeys, but less appeal for bulky child seats and regular family conveyance.
It’s a similar story with the 420-litre boot, which is big enough for a full-size suitcase but not a lot more.
The Cupra Formentor VZx verdict
The 2022 Cupra Formentor VZx brings a point of difference to the SUV crowd, preferencing design and performance ahead of space and practicality.
More than that, its key driving characteristics are decidedly aural and visceral, while the copper-centric design makes a striking impression in the skin.
The VZx passes our road test with flying colours but the challenge of mass-market acceptance remains to be seen.
We’ll be watching carefully to see how Aussies react to the newcomer.
How much does the 2022 Cupra Formentor VZx cost?
Price: $61,490 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Fuel: 7.7L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 175g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety rating: Five-star (ANCAP 2021)
Related: Cupra Formentor 2022 Review – Track Test
Related: Cupra Formentor 2022 Video Review
Related: Cupra Formentor 2021 Review – International
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Seat's reliability record is fair to middling, which is relevant because Cupra is a Seat offshoot. In our 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey, it finished 17th out of 30 manufacturers, just above Audi and Volkswagen but below Toyota and BMW.What is the difference between Cupra Formentor V1 and V2? ›
As if the V1 wasn't well equipped enough as it is, but V2 adds 19-inch alloy wheels and a full Nappa leather interior. The front seats are electrically adjustable and heated, and the driver's seat has a memory function. The steering wheel is heated, too, but only for automatic options.
We've tested several Formentors now and can report that even base models have perfectly comfortable seats. The higher-spec models and hybrids we tested had sportier bucket-style chairs up front tailored in blue leather, and these feel supremely comfy with their extra squabs to hold you in place.Does the Cupra Formentor have a reversing camera? ›
The CUPRA Formentor makes straightening up a streamlined, stress-free process. Simply choose a parking space and let Park Assist guide you in autonomously. Park into the tightest of spaces with the Rear View camera.