You’ve got to hand it to Cupra, SEAT’s sporty spin-off brand. To take a generic SUV like the Ateca and transform it into a bold, head-turning coupe-crossover is no mean feat.
In fact, the first fully-fledged Cupra model looks like nothing else on the market in its price bracket.
Athletic with a sculpted profile, muscular wheel arches and an elegantly extensive bonnet, it’s longer and sits lower than most school-run SUVs.
Add Cupra’s trademark copper-coloured alloy wheels, distinctive badge and full-width rear light bar, and you have a car that oozes kerb appeal.
Priced from £28,270 and available with 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre turbo petrol engines, plus a 1.4-litre plug-in hybrid, there’s something for everybody.
Our range-topping test car (badged 2.0 TSI 4Driven) developed 306bhp, sported four-wheel drive, a seven-speed DSG auto gearbox and a ticket price just north of £40,000.
With a 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 155mph, the performance figures speak for themselves.
The claimed fuel economy of 31.4-33.2mpg (you’ll have to restrain yourself in real-world driving to hit 30mpg) and CO2 emissions of 193g/km also tell a story.
However, this version of the Formentor is all about power and handling, so if you want to ease your eco conscience, opt for the plug-in hybrid.
It’s a class act inside too with subtle copper flourishes throughout, leather upholstery, soft-touch surfaces and supportive sports seats, plus it’s hard to fault the build quality.
A bright and clear 12-inch touchscreen is the nerve centre of an otherwise smart, fairly minimalist dashboard. Like most other new Volkswagen Group cars, there’s a lot of swiping and prodding even to access the most basic of infotainment functions such as climate control, though we had some success with the voice control system.
On the plus side, as well as gear-shifting paddles, the sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel also incorporates a handy drive mode button, just like a Porsche 911 (a great shortcut for selecting for Sport).
Hit the Start button (also on the steering wheel) and the Cupra fires up, emitting a purposeful growl, though purists will whinge that it’s enhanced via the audio system.
Spacious with ample room for adults in the back and lots of space for stowing smaller items, it has a decent boot capacity of 450 litres, stretching to 1,475 litres with the rear seats folded.
On the road it feels every bit as fast as the stats indicate with plenty of torque on tap, while the dual-cutch transmission efficiently pumps through the gears.
Thanks partly to its low-slung design, the Cupra is as agile as it handsome, feeling more like an overgrown hot hatch than a 4×4.
Add sharp steering that’s quick and light at low speeds, a comfortable ride and serious amounts of grip, and you have a crossover that can be fun on more challenging roads, yet also effortless on longer hauls.
It’s safe too, achieving a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. Standard safety features for the Formentor include Front Assist with auto emergency braking (AEB) and pedestrian detection, along with side and exit assist, emergency steering, junction assist, lane assist and e-call that will alert the emergency services if the car is involved in a heavy collision.
Verdict: In these days of generic SUV design, Cupra has dared to be different with its athletic Formentor coupe-crossover, which delivers dynamism, performance, practicality, style and the latest technology.