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fast and furious New Formentor is my Cupra tea

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The gorgeous new Cupra Formentor is speedy and stylish.

The gorgeous new Cupra Formentor is speedy and stylish.

The interior of the new Cupra Formentor.

The interior of the new Cupra Formentor.

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The gorgeous new Cupra Formentor is speedy and stylish.

THIS is an unusual one this week. First off, let me school you (in a non-patronising way) in what this car actually is. It’s a Cupra. Not a SEAT, like you might think, but a Cupra. Made in a Cupra factory by Cupra employees. 

And this car is their first ever standalone model, called a Formentor. And my actual test car for the week was the top-of-the-range Formentor VZ. Ok, you still with me?

The entry-level model costs just €37,135, but this particular bad boy would cost €68,316. And yes, that is not a typo. When you ask for that kind of money you have to be prepared to be compared to the likes of an Audi Q3 Sportback, a BMW X3, a Volvo XC40 or a Lexus UX.

All premium brands with decades of experience behind them and shelf-loads of awards. The thing is – Cupra is not some rogue automotive start-up.

SEAT has long been an underrated brand on the mid-level car scene. They have their showpiece in the Leon, as well as some crackers in various genres like the Alhambra and their three SUVS (Arona, Ateca, Tarraco). Some of them even have ‘Cupra’ badging to represent a high-level trim line. So, when the Spanish car giant (owned by the VW Group since the mid-80s) decided to branch out and create a new car company, the Cupra name seemed like the obvious moniker.

They took all their best engine components and design ideas and got together to form the new ‘premium’ brand. I used inverted commas there because I feel you have to earn that superlative, like the aforementioned brands have over the last half a century.

You can’t just leapfrog into the boys’ club by making a slick fast car and sticking a big price tag on it. That’s not to say it won’t get there, but it will take time.

And in this Formentor they are off to a great start. It’s a stunning car from any angle and the closer you get the more you love it. The lovely 19-inch (exclusive) machined alloy wheels in Sport Black Matt are some of the nicest out there and the styling from front to back is exceptional, aided by the obvious impact of the grille and its attention-seeking logo.

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The interior of the new Cupra Formentor.

The interior of the new Cupra Formentor.

The interior of the new Cupra Formentor.

The Formentor’s cabin is wildly impressive too. There are bold and brave elements to this design that give it a little distance from the others in the market. The 12-inch touch-screen is great and there is a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel in front of the driver. The bucket seats are really good too, with ample support and comfort while still looking gorgeous.

The space in row two is pretty good but is not the best in this niche ‘premium’ market. And there are three Isofix points (two in the back as well as in the passenger seat) which will definitely entice a few extra buyers.

Weirdly, the boot in my test car was smaller than the entry level. Down from 450 litres to around 425 litres because of the extra packaging required for the extra horse-power under the bonnet.

Don’t forget – this is a 310bhp car compared to 150bhp in the lower trim. And the hybrid version gets a paltry 345-litre boot. Luckily, I am in no doubt about its driveability.

Stick it in ‘Sport’ mode and prepare to feel the full power of the engine as it scythes through all seven gears without coming up for air.

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It is ridiculously good fun, not just on comfort of motorway driving. It’s a cornering genius too.

The downside to that, obviously, is the fuel economy takes a hammering to pay for your fun. This is a great start for the new brand. It is refreshing, fun, powerful and beautiful.

They are asking for a lot of hard-earned cash for this model, but in the lower trim versions there is real value. I can’t wait for their next offering.

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