There’s a lot to like about the Formentor, from the luxurious cabin and sharp exterior design that’s unique to Cupra – there’s no SEAT equivalent – to the build quality and the driving experience. The latter is something that is very different from what I’m used to when I run long-termers, because for more than a decade I’ve had a diesel engine doing the work, rather than a small turbocharged petrol unit with the addition of electric assistance.
Every time the Formentor is started it defaults to electric mode, so the engine doesn’t cut in until the battery pack is depleted. Even at motorway speeds the electric motor does all of the work, unless you mash the accelerator pedal to the floor, at which point the engine cuts in to share the load. Unless I’m undertaking a short local journey (a rare occurrence), the first thing I do when I switch on is to swap from E-mode to Hybrid, so the engine cuts in once the Cupra is moving above urban speeds (30mph or so). That way the battery pack isn’t depleted too quickly, and on a typical motorway journey with some congestion, there will still be a bit of juice left even after 100 miles or so, thanks to the very effective regenerative braking system.
Whether the Formentor is cruising in electric or petrol mode, the background noise is the same; it’s only by looking at the instruments that you can tell what’s going on under the bonnet. Predictably, it’s only under hard acceleration that the engine gets vocal, but the sound is never especially intrusive. It’s not as though the acceleration is all that vigorous, but if you need some extra urge there’s a Sport mode which holds onto the gears for a bit longer, while also boosting the assistance from the electric motor. In Normal mode, even under hard acceleration, the petrol engine is left to do all of the work, with no help from the battery pack.
The oddest thing is the way the engine cuts out pretty much as soon as you take your foot off the gas on the motorway, only to cut back in again almost immediately as you reapply the throttle, in a bid to save fuel and top up the battery pack. In bunched-up traffic in the outside lane of the motorway, it’s normal for the engine to keep cutting in and out at 70mph, given away only by the rev counter; refinement levels are so good that otherwise you’re oblivious as to what’s going on under the bonnet. And let’s face it: even with the instruments telling you exactly what’s happening, most drivers will still be blissfully ignorant of what’s unfolding beneath their right foot.
Date arrived 24th May 2021
Economy (WLTP combined) 201.8-217.3mpg
Economy (On test) 51.2mmpg