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Driven: Cupra Formentor TSI 150. Image by Cupra.

Driven: Cupra Formentor TSI 150
Entry-point Formentor proves the 310hp flagship model was not just a flash-in-the-pan for Cupra.


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Cupra Formentor TSI 150 DSG V1

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: still feels special and beautifully sorted in the chassis department, despite the relative lack of power

Not so good: fake exhausts!

Key Facts

Model tested: Cupra Formentor TSI 150 DSG V1
Price: Formentor range from 27,400 for TSI 150 V1 manual; DSG V1 from 28,840, car as tested 29,720
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door coupe-SUV
CO2 emissions: 151g/km (VED Band 151-170: 555 in year one, then 155 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 42.2mpg
Top speed: 126mph
0-62mph: 8.9 seconds
Power: 150hp at 5,000-6,000rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 1,500-3,500rpm
Boot space: 450-1,505 litres

Our view:

We raved about the Cupra Formentor when we drove it as a 44,000 TSI 310 4Drive flagship model late last year, while colleagues of ours over in Ireland also had only very positive things to say about the e-Hybrid 245 plug-in petrol-electric model too. But while it's all well and good impressing punters when you can run 0-62mph in less than five seconds, or when you can travel more than 30 miles in zero-emission electric silence, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Or something. Sorry, we got lost there. What we meant was, 'can a car still feel noteworthy when it's the least expensive, lowliest specified model in the range?'

And so we booked in for a week with what is nearly the most bog-basic Cupra Formentor you can have. It's powered by the familiar 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine from the wider Volkswagen Group, which in this instance only drives the front wheels rather than all four of them. There are no fancy dampers in the suspension department, just conventional springs and shocks with a sporty tune, and the transmission here is a seven-speed DSG automatic; subtract another 1,440 from our car's standard list price of 28,840 and you then do indeed have the cheapest Formentor of them all - the six-speed manual TSI 150 V1.

V1, by the way, is the entry specification but you wouldn't know it sitting in the 1.5-litre Formentor. It still comes with loads of kit, a beautiful cabin with really eye-catching design, and intuitive, easy-to-use digital interfaces. Granted, you have cloth seats instead of super-swish Petrol Blue leather, but these chairs remain wonderfully supportive and easy on the eye too. Moving to the outside of the Cupra, it also looks pure class just like its big brothers, even when it's sitting on the smaller 18-inch alloys, and an 880 metallic paint as slathered over our test car will do wonders for its looks without taking you beyond the 30-grand barrier. About the only egregious sin our example committed was to have fake exhaust exits at the back; the full-fat 310hp TSI enjoys 'proper' quads poking out of its rear valance.

What's most wonderful, though, and what convinces us we were right to laud the Formentor as exuberantly as we did first time around, is that the Cupra coupe-SUV continues to feel like anything but 'just another crossover'. There's a bite to its steering that you simply do not find in 99 per cent of the vaguely comparable competition, and despite its lack of adjustable dampers the suspension on this TSI 150 V1 was magnificent. It did a cracking job of keeping the Formentor's shell on an even keel during faster cornering, while also allowing for excellent ride comfort and a level of rolling refinement that would befit something costing twice as much as this Spanish machine. Maybe even more.

It also proved perfectly fine for performance. Something with only 150hp and 250Nm propelling 1,463kg of tall-stanced car is not going to sear its acceleration credentials all over your subconscious in a lasting fashion, but we're happy to go on record as saying an 8.9-second 0-62mph time for this Formentor felt, if anything, a tad conservative. It was surprisingly brisk and responsive throughout the rev range, the drivetrain doing enough to convince you that it deserves to be included in what is supposed to be a sporty range of vehicles.

And don't go thinking all this praise is because we only got a short test in the Formentor V1, a brief window in which we saw all of its plus points and none of the negatives. In the space of just a week, we had almost 21 hours at the Cupra's fantastic wheel (which loses the start/stop and Cupra mode buttons as a V1, although it's still lovely to look at and hold) battering the Formentor fully 984 miles around the country on various work-related errands. It achieved an overall 39.9mpg economy in that time and a best of 46.8mpg on one lengthy schlep from Crawley to Newark, taking in half the M25 and most of the M1. The conclusion here is that it's thoroughly adept in all the driving departments you care to show it.

In short, we loved the Formentor TSI 150 V1 almost as much as we adored its TSI 310 VZ Edition halo model. We always enjoyed walking up to the Cupra and appreciating its fantastic lines, we found its interior a delight to sit in and operate (with only a few touchscreen-related niggles marring the general experience), and it was a genuine pleasure to rack up almost a thousand miles in a base-spec car as staggeringly talented as this one. If anything, the enduring brilliance of this entry-point Formentor was even more impressive than the wham-bam-thank-you-mam showing of the 310 TSI driven on a sodden afternoon, and what it really goes to show is that you should be under absolutely no illusions: young a marque though it may be and it's perhaps somewhat crossover-/SUV-centric at the moment, but Cupra is showing all the signs that it is going to build an immense amount of performance-car credibility in an incredibly short space of time. This Formentor, comparatively plain though it was, turned out to be tremendous.


Peugeot 3008: you know, we love the Peugeot 3008 but even the (preposterously expensive) Hybrid4 model with 300hp can't get close to the Formentor's chassis panache and cultured drivetrains. We'd have the Cupra 150 over and above any model of 3008 we can think of.

SEAT Ateca 150 TSI Evo: Cupra only sells its own take on the Ateca with a 300hp EA888, so if you want the 1.5 in this body you'll need the SEAT-badged car. As family crossover-SUVs go, the 'plain' Ateca is not half-bad at all, but the Formentor comfortably outclasses it in practically every single regard.

Toyota C-HR: distinctive styling and a surprisingly spry chassis form the basis of the likeable C-HR, although we lament the loss of the sweet 1.2-litre turbo engine. Mind, a 184hp 2.0-litre Hybrid model arrived to quell any disquiet on that front.

Matt Robinson - 1 Apr 2021

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2021 Cupra Formentor 150 TSI VZ1 UK test. Image by Cupra.2021 Cupra Formentor 150 TSI VZ1 UK test. Image by Cupra.2021 Cupra Formentor 150 TSI VZ1 UK test. Image by Cupra.2021 Cupra Formentor 150 TSI VZ1 UK test. Image by Cupra.2021 Cupra Formentor 150 TSI VZ1 UK test. Image by Cupra.

2021 Cupra Formentor 150 TSI VZ1 UK test. Image by Cupra.2021 Cupra Formentor 150 TSI VZ1 UK test. Image by Cupra.2021 Cupra Formentor 150 TSI VZ1 UK test. Image by Cupra.2021 Cupra Formentor 150 TSI VZ1 UK test. Image by Cupra.2021 Cupra Formentor 150 TSI VZ1 UK test. Image by Cupra.


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