Cupra Formentor

e-Hybrid 1.4 TSI

Cupra Formentor e-HYBRID, 2021, front
Cupra Formentor e-HYBRID, 2021, rear
Cupra Formentor e-HYBRID, 2021, interior
Cupra Formentor e-HYBRID, 2021, charging

THERE'S a limit at how different you make a family hatchback look - especially one that shares a platform with similarly styled sensible five-doors.

But Cupra - the posh arm of SEAT - has managed to work wonders with the sassy styled Formentor thanks to sharp body creases and a squat, sporty stance.

Based on the humble but dynamically excellent SEAT Ateca, it is sharper styled and even sharper to drive but less practical, partly because of the rakish roofline. There is an array of model choices ranging from 1.5-litre to gutsy 2.0-litre 310ps.

We opted for the middle path - the 1.4 TSI e-Hybrid which punches out a not insignificant 245ps yet allows most drivers to squeeze around 40 miles out of a gallon of E10.

It must be said that hybridisation has penalised the Formentor's luggage carry capacity somewhat and the boot swallows just 345 litres of cargo.

But driving and economy is where the snazzy Cupra - which bears more than a passing resemblance to the exotic Lamborghini Urus - really shines. Sharp responses and great dynamics put the Spaniard ahead of its rivals, together with sufficient power to elevate it to the warm , but perhaps not hot, hatch class.

62mph comes up in under eight seconds which means it's brisk rather than racy. You could reasonably expect it to be quicker than this with 245ps to play with.

But the power comes in a smooth stream allowing fast cross-country trips to be completed with ease and satisfaction. This version is front drive and there's a bit of scrabble when the accelerator is floored in greasy conditions.

Handling is tidy, roll-free and precise with a sharp turn-in and pleasing weighting. No shortage of grip around curves as the low profile rubber which wraps around the 19-inch alloys bites into the Tarmac. Ride is better than you might have expected with enough damping to absorb most road imperfections.

As for economy, it uses its electrification sensibly and the miles are stretched out. Plug in and you'll get 34 miles on a single charge from the 12.8 kWh battery. Officially the combined consumption is 188.3 mpg - a figure unlikely ever to be attained in real life conditions. Nevertheless our 42mpg average seemed pretty useful for a spirited four-seater.

Space in the cabin is reasonably good with decent leg and shoulder room front and rear. Tall back seat passengers may have too dip their heads slightly, however, due to the sloping roofline.

Another minor casualty of the design is the reduced boot space, down from 450litres on the basic version due to the necessary electrical bits and pieces housed beneath the cargo platform.

The cabin is smart, modern and high tech. Which translates as a tad cumbersome to use in many cases. Just about everything is operated prom the 12-inch infotainment screen which necessitates the driver pulling over if he wants to change radio channels or risk taking his or her eyes off the road.

Even the heated front seats require several presses to operate, when a single movement should be sufficient.

It's a stylish living environment with well shaped leather sports seats and plenty of copper stitching to match the exhausts. Swish cabin lighting wraps around the doors and lights up letting you know when a car is about to overtake. Impressive stuff.

FAST FACTS

Cupra Formentor e-Hybrid 1.4 TSI

Price: £42,185

Mechanical: 1.4-litre, 4 cyl, 241bhp, petrol hybrid engine driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 130mph

0-62mph: 7.1sec

Combined MPG: 188.3

Insurance Group: 26

C02 emissions: 33g/km

Bik rating: 12%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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