IT turns heads and just might open the eyes of drivers who need a family car but also want performance from the new Cupra Formentor.
The Formentor is the first model designed and developed for the brand and this spring collected an EuroNCap five-star safety award.
This new brand formerly launched with the Formentor last December as the prestigious performance range from SEAT and it's gone from strength to strength.
The latest e-Hybrids arrived in the Spring to join the initial range of cars with a choice of five engines, highly specified five trim levels all sharing a common large five-door body.
The Plug-in e-Hybrid models come with a choice of 204 or 245ps 1.4-litre petrol engine and electric motor and a pure battery range of 36 miles while charging from empty to full in 3.5 hrs and backed up by a petrol range over 235 miles.
The powertrain is a highly sophisticated system blending electric and petrol power, switching as necessary to maximise economy or power while keeping down emissions. The front wheels are driven in the e-Hybrid models but the pure petrol versions come with front or all-wheel-drive.
Acceleration is very good from rest and it can easily keep up with or more likely ahead of other traffic with a lot in reserve for swift and safe overtaking seamlessly delivered through the quiet and smooth six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. There's sporting, comfort or eco-modes selectable to meet a driver's wishes.
The refinement continues with the well-weighted, quick turning steering and the immensely powerful large disc brakes.
Cupra engineers have done a fine job with the fully independent coil sprung suspension on each corner. It really soaked up the worst bumps but also managed to give excellent body and chassis control more akin to a sports car than a big family hatchback. I can see the Formentor becoming the Q-car for enthusiasts.
The Formentor had excellent front seats and reasonably comfortable back seats. Our V2 leather trim had powered adjustments and wrap-around padding with excellent support for a long trip.
There was no shortage of room infront or behind and three could easily sit abreast in the back with plenty of head and legroom. Access was very good for everyone, the loadbed was a sensible height although the minimal capacity was not brilliant for a big family's away days.
Inside the oddments provision was very good with pockets, bins and cubbies, a large glovebox and shallow trays.
For the driver everything came to hand and foot without stretching, worked well and the really large infotainment screen was very clear if not particularly fast changing menus. Essential dials infront of the driver were reasonably sized and very clear but also a bit cluttered and might benefit from enlarging in a facelift.
Air conditioning was immensely powerful, with a wide temperature range and really good directional ability, backed up by powered windows.
Visibility was excellent to front and sides but over the shoulder and when reversing the high flanks, thick rear pillars and tall tail restricted what could be seen and you had to rely on the safety-belt of sensors and a very clear camera.
Wipers, washers and headlights all did a good job in poor visibility conditions.
With such a refined powertrain and sleek design you would expect the noise levels to be low and they were unless you pushed the petrol engine hard during acceleration. Road noise was very modest unless a bad pothole made the suspension twitch. The smoothness of the suspension in action was underlined with a firmness due to the large wheels and tyres which picked up most irregularities.