Living with the Cupra Formentor VZe

Things we like

  • Likeable performance in either electric or hybrid mode
  • Generally comfortable ride
  • Interior space and design

Not so much

  • Not yet getting close to claimed electric range
  • Damping over bigger bumps
  • Rapid VZx only $1K dearer

Things we like

  • Likeable performance in either electric or hybrid mode
  • Generally comfortable ride
  • Interior space and design

Not so much

  • Not yet getting close to claimed electric range
  • Damping over bigger bumps
  • Rapid VZx only $1K dearer

2023 Cupra Formentor VZe long-term review


  • Welcome
  • Up next: The skiing getaway
  • Formentor VZe specs


  • Price as tested: $60,990 (Driveaway $65,990 NSW)
  • Km this month: 306km @ 2.5L/100km
  • Overall: As above

The Volkswagen Group has a new brand in town, and that made Cupra an obvious choice for a new addition to our long-term garage. And the Cupra Formentor, as the brand’s flagship model, was the shoo-in as the model to feature.

We’re intrigued to discover the characteristics that will make Cupra, a spin-off from the Spanish Seat brand, different from stablemates Volkswagen and Skoda.

Awareness is the name of the game for Cupra at this early stage, for a brand with ambitions of reaching 7000 sales by 2025. For perspective, it took VW’s Czech brand Skoda 12 years to hit such a milestone.

There’s no surprise that, of a dozen or so people who’ve asked about the car so far, only a couple knew about Cupra. (One was a Wheels reader, who naturally knew more, too: that the Formentor SUV is one of a trio of models that also includes the Leon hatch and Ateca SUV.)

Yet there’s also no doubt that the Formentor has been turning many more heads with its sharp looks, Y-spoked 19-inch rims, crisp Nevada White paintwork, and copper-coloured flourishes. It’s literally stopped some dog-walkers in their tracks – and, gratefully, not to allow their four-legged friends to go about their business.

One of the most striking SUVs in the entire Volkswagen Group? I think so. Forget a VW Tiguan or Skoda Karoq; even an Audi Q3 Sportback looks conservative in comparison.

Comparisons are valid with the luxury brand; a Q3 Sportback starts at $53,800, with a 2.0-litre turbo 40TFSI not that big a stretch ahead at $66,100. No equivalent plug-in, though.

First impressions of the interior are that while it doesn’t hit the quality heights of Audi, the cabin falls into that premium-mainstream category familiar to Volkswagen owners – though with more flair.

The contemporary design is enhanced with a 10.25-inch digital driver display and 12-inch central infotainment screen, along with multiple USB-C ports and wireless charging.

There are four variants in the Formentor line-up, split evenly between front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models. It starts from $50,690 for an AWD V, followed by a $53,390 VZ that is front-drive but adds more standard equipment.

Higher up and close together are a pair of seemingly diametrically opposed models: a $60,990 VZe FWD plug-in hybrid and a $61,990 VZx AWD performance variant.

We went for the lucky-dip option and ended up with the PHEV. And call it good fortune, because, for a couple of reasons, we reckon the VZe makes for the best variant to assess over a period.

An electrified model is hugely relevant for Cupra as it plans to be the first VW Group brand to go all-electric, by 2030. And we can also explore whether owning a plug-in hybrid is being half-pregnant or actually a smarter choice than a fully electric car right now.

The Cupra Formentor VZe introduces a drivetrain available in the UK and Europe in models such as the Golf but not previously offered by the VW Group.

It pairs VW’s well-known 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol with an 85kW/300Nm electric motor – translating into combined outputs of 180kW and 400N that are put to the ground through a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox and the front wheels.

The electric motor is powered by a 12.8kWh battery.

Cupra claims there’s about 50km of electric driving range on a full charge. So far, we’ve managed about 40km from a full battery. I’ll be running the Formentor PHEV as an owner with home charging would – regularly topping up the battery to take advantage of electric motoring in daily urban use – then seeing how the hybrid system plays into overall experience.

Official consumption is 1.9 litres per 100km, though theoretically the Formentor can be continually charged for zero consumption.

In early days, the average fuel consumption is reading between 2.1 and 2.2L/100km.

We’ll see what happens to efficiency once we’re forced to use the hybrid system on longer trips. Our Formentor is still in its run-in phase, mind; there were just over 800km on the odo when we received it.

We’ll also be checking out the Formentor’s credentials as a practical family SUV, including assessing whether the VZe’s smaller, 345-litre boot is sufficient or lacking space. Owing to battery packaging, it loses 75 litres to other Formentor models.

There’s no auto tailgate, either. That’s part of a $2750 Leather & Power Package, which also adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, and electric driver’s seat. Buyers can also stump up $2100 for a panoramic sunroof, while a handful of premium metallic paints are $475.

Our VZe is refreshingly free of any options. Buy a Cupra before the end of 2022 and three years of free servicing is also included.

Gracias, indeed.

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2023 Cupra Formentor vZe specifications

Model Cupra Formentor VZe
Body Compact SUV
Drive Front-wheel drive
Drivetrain 1.4-litre turbo petrol + electric motor
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Power (combined) 180kW
Torque (combined) 400Nm
0-100km/h (claimed) 7.0 seconds
Electric driving range (claimed) 58km
Fuel consumption (combined) 1.9L/100km
Boot space 345L
Weight 1708kg
Suspension Struts front; multilink rear
Length/Width/Height 4450/1839/1510mm
Wheelbase 2680mm
Brakes Ventilated front & rear
Tyres 245/40R19
Wheels 19-inch alloys
Price $60,990 (RRP) / $


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