New Cupra Formentor VZ5 flexes its 385bhp muscles, confirmed for UK sale

Published: 22 February 2021

Cupra Formentor range grows
New VZ5 shown with 385bhp 5cyl
Choose from PHEV and petrol motors

Cupra is marking its third anniversary as a standalone brand with a fiery five-cylinder Formentor VZ5 high-performance version - and it's coming to the UK, despite being left-hand drive only. It’s the 2.5-litre TSI engine familiar from the hottest Audi RS3 and TT, promising a punchy 385bhp and 354lb ft in this application.

The Spanish car maker lauds performance as a cornerstone of its brand values, and the VZ5 doesn’t disappoint, dispatching the 0-62mph sprint in a remarkable 4.2 seconds while top speed is pegged at 155mph. Tellingly, the news focus at the anniversary debut was all about those performance credentials - emissions and economy weren’t mentioned once. 

Our Cupra Formentor review

Cupra Formentor VZ5: what you need to know

Befitting a halo car sitting at the top of the range, the VZ5 gets a full athletic makeover: quad exhaust pipes hint at the fireworks beneath, extended wheelarches wrap around engorged 20-inch alloy wheels and more serious Akebono six-piston brakes keep all that speed in check. 

The Formentor’s chassis is tuned to handle the extra grunt, dropping 10mm for a sportier stance while the standard 4Drive all-wheel drive is designed to prevent wheelspin and keep you pointing in the right direction.

Cupra Formentor VZ5

This is the most brutal Cupra yet, and they haven’t held back with the sporty accoutrements. Unique bonnet and real carbonfibre splitter at the front? Yep. Flared wheelarches, rear faux diffuser and copper-tipped exhaust pipes? Check. Pretty aggressive bucket-style seats and lashings of bronze detailing complete the interior fizz.

It’s all remarkably focused and old-school hot hatch, which might explain why Cupra will limit production to just 7000 units worldwide. The VZ5 will go on sale in autumn 2021 - and they’ll all be left-hand drive.

R&D chief Dr Werner Tietz told CAR magazine: 'It will definitely be sold in the UK. It is a Spanish car and that is why it is left-hand drive. Sometimes when we buy a British sports car in Europe, we can only buy them in right-hand drive. Why not the other way around?'

Priced at around £50,000, this would become the most expensive Seat or Cupra ever...

The rest of the Cupra Formentor range

The VZ5 sits atop a growing brood of Formentor models. Powertrains offered in the UK now include:

  • 1.5-litre petrol 148bhp 
  • 1.4-litre eHybrid 201bhp or 242bhp
  • 2.0-litre petrol 187bhp, 242bhp or 306bhp 

Cupra Fomentor e-Hybrid is a PHEV with CO2 emissions of just 33g/km

Note that not a single diesel powertrain is offered in the UK; instead parsimonious drivers are encouraged to pick one of a couple of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs, above), which boast CO2 emissions as low as 33g/km on the latest WLTP test standard.

Our guide to the best hybrids and plug-ins on sale today

Remind me… What is the Cupra Formentor exactly?

It’s the first standalone model launched under the devolved Cupra nameplate. While the rest of the family comprises spicier Seat Atecas and Leons, you won’t find an equivalent Seat version of the Formentor. It’s a rakish crossover that passes for more of a hatchback-on-stilts than the traditional SUV vibe of the Ateca.

The concept car was first shown at the 2019 Geneva motor show and little-changed production versions went on UK sale in late 2020. The name Formentor comes from a rugged cape on the northern tip of Mallorca, and definitely isn’t a ghoulish soul-sucker from Harry Potter (although the Cupra badging does lend a certain cartoon super-hero flavour).

It’s a good-looking car, with dramatic rear haunches lending an athletic air to this crossover and it’s not short on the Cupra brand’s nascent styling language: sharp angular headlights, a single light bar at the rear and copper-tipped accents galore, as per Cupra tradition.

Cupra Formentor VZ5 interior

Inside is, again, a lot like the new Cupra Leon, with which it shares the family Golf-alike MQB platform. This brings a big 12-inch central touchscreen, digital dials and all the latest connectivity features, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, online services via Cupra Connect, and a big suite of safety kit.

Prices?

Prices start at £27,395 for a basic 1.5-litre Formentor, while the 306bhp all-wheel drive version tops out at at £43,840 in maximum VZ Edition trim.

Cupra has sold 3600 Formentors in the first two months on sale and reports there's a seven-week lead time. CAR magazine is about to run a Formentor as a long-term test; stay tuned for our regular reports coming soon...

Browse all our Cupra reviews

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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