The Formentor has been the car that has allowed CUPRA to take off as a brand. As the first model developed exclusively for CUPRA, its acceptance is being very good in the markets in all its versions of gasoline, diesel and plug-in hybrids. But this was yet to come CUPRA Formentor VZ5 with the 2.5 TSI 5-cylinder engine and 390 hp. We have tested it.
Formentor. The name of a cape in Mallorca and the name of the model that half the world has in love with, with its peculiar approach Halfway between a compact family and a sporty SUV with a lot of character and personality.
Such has been the success of the Formentor and it is working so well in all markets that the brand led by Wayne Griffiths has allowed the luxury from going to the group’s headquarters to order a high-performance version that was the object of desire. And they have granted it.
With the acquaintance and acclaimed Turbo five-cylinder block that we first met in the Audi TT RS con 400 CV and that they continue to mount other models of the brand such as Audi RS3 or the RS Q3, this car promises strong sensations.
This is the first time that that block, for me one of the best engines in history for performance, sound and feel, has been mounted in a non-Audi car. And to put it to the test on the Formentor VZ5 we have gone to Castellolí circuit, a perfect environment to get the most out of it.
Details yes, but without going overboard
The CUPRA Formentor VZ5 is identified by a series of details aesthetically, they give it away, although it must be admitted that starting from a base with as much character and personality as that of the Formentor, making it more sporty in sight is not easy.
It is achieved through the application in its proper measure of a series of details that make it special, so let’s start the review at the back. There we find the specific exhaust outlets of the VZ5. There are four of them, they are decorated in the characteristic Copper color and are arranged diagonally, grouped two on each side.
Surrounding these exhaust outlets we find a diffuser with very elaborate shapes, made in carbon fiber and with a presence much more remarkable than that of any other Formentor. The VZ5 logo in a discreet black chrome color on the boot lid completes a rear that is surely the part that other cars see the most on the road.
In the side view the car looks lower and compact if possible than a more normal Formentor, thanks to the fact that the bodywork is 10 millimeters lower and that it mounts wheels of 20 inch specific to this version.
If we go to the front, the lower moldings of the bumper are made of carbon fiber. It also changes the grill plot front, which has a specific braiding for this version.
The color Gris Taiga It will be exclusive to this version, although to receive it in that color you have to wait until 2022, while Magnetic Tech, matte Petrol Blue and Midnight Black will be available as soon as it goes on sale at the end of this year.
The wheel arches in black, the exterior mirror caps in the same color and the frame of the front grille in black are the other details that mark its style. elegant, sporty and with a special touch.
Inside, the most notable change is found in the seats, since the VZ5 equips some new semi backet with a carbon fiber structure, which they call CUPBucket.
The CUPRA Formentor VZ5 on the road
To start the engine we have to press a satellite button on the sleek and ergonomic Cupra steering wheel. Immediately the purr that sneaks into the cabin tells us that this is not a Formentor or 150 hp, or plug-in hybrid. Nor does it leave room for doubts regarding the 310 hp VZ. Here the symphony is very different, more husky, more forceful, and that’s just the harbinger of what awaits us next.
It’s easy to find one comfortable posture at the wheel, with the seat very low as I like it. We hit the track behind the pilot Mikel Azcona, who leads the way at the controls of a whole CUPRA León WTCR, which is saying a lot.
We go relatively slowly in the first few bars to allow the car to reach mechanical temperature, and the sports tires and brake equipment with Akebono six-piston calipers and discs 375 mm diameter are brought into their optimal operating range.
Right from the start you can see that the car’s chassis has a different set-up than all the Formentors that I have driven to date, which are all except the 190 hp one that I have not yet taken.
In this the direction is more noticeable direct, tough and precise. Work has been done at the front axle geometry level, applying specific drops that make the car tread better and with more consistency in curves.
On a return to the winding Castellolí track with its ups and downs, it is enough for the mechanics to be already at optimum temperature. Also Mikel is happy and we have lost the rest of the cars of the caravan that should follow us, so we increase the pace.
First stomp down the straight stretching each of the gears and the kick with which it hits the seat is absolutely brutal. The engine is wild, It has a very explosive way of turning up and the sound it emits, although more discreet than in an Audi RS3 with which it shares a block, is pure music to the ears.
Strong braking, steering wheel turning looking for the apex of the curve and everything seems easy, since the car moves very agile and with precision, although allows some gliding and it is easy to get the right point of play with the inertia so that the rhythm is wild on the track.
Let’s not forget that it is a 4Drive four-wheel drive car with automatic torque distribution between both axles. It also has the Torque Splitter that in addition to distributing forward or backward, it also allows more or less torque to be sent to each of the outer wheels.
The capacity of pull and push at the exit of the curve is brutal. You open the wheel, set your sights on the next point of contact, step back down and the 390 hp take care of getting you there in much less time than you expected.
The curves go by and the rhythm goes dizzyingly on the rise. I love how connected you feel to the car. Despite that distinctly sporty set-up, it’s as if you and the VZ5 have been close friends for a long time.
It turns flat, brakes with an excellent feel that allows you to modulate the intensity to your liking, the direction is precise and that takes you to that level of absolute confidence which makes it easy for the beat to get higher and higher.
Stretching the gears is a real treat. The 7-speed DSG gearbox responds immediately to every indication we give it through the paddles. There is also a notable difference with respect to other versions and that is that in this don’t jump to the next gear when it reaches the cutoff.
It stays in the one that you have indicated and unless you press any of the cams, it will not do anything by itself that you have not told it. That allows you to play more with the change, stretch the laps more and always keep it in the optimal regime.
Also new is the lighting system that indicates when we are close to the ignition cut-off, making green LED diodes blink as the revolutions rise and when the engine approaches its 7,000 RPM limit, the lights blink red.
The run on the track is over soon, but I already have enough information to confirm that we are looking at a car that, beyond being a limited edition and a product of desire, is very effective when you demand the most of it. Without a doubt, it is in me top 3 sports SUVs together with the Porsche Macan and the BMW X5 M.
Rationality and enjoyment on the road
But the thing did not end here, since although the VZ5s are still in the homologation phase and therefore the units we were driving were still prototypes, we were able to go out with them on the road to make a beautiful route of something more than 100 kilometers in the vicinity of Montserrat, very close to Barcelona.
There the VZ5 brought out a face that had been hidden on the circuit, the car rational and practical, valid for day to day. On the road, nothing hard suspension is shown and taking it in Normal mode is as useful as its 150 hp brother.
The key is in Adaptive Chassis Control (DCC) with 15 levels adjustment of the damping, which regardless of the mode that we have selected, allows us to configure the suspension to our liking.
When the road becomes less traveled and more twisty, it is a wonder to select the mode Sport from the steering wheel satellite control and feel again that special character that we had fallen in love a few minutes before on the track.
On the road the car is very fast. The engine feels very full, especially from 3,000 RPM all the way to 6,500 RPM. Not surprisingly, there are 480 Nm of torque that are delivered in a constant from just after 2,000 RPM.
It does 0 to 100 km / h in 4.2 seconds and is capable of reaching a peak of 250 km / h, but beyond those figures, the beauty of this car is how well it runs. The body is 10 millimeters lower than in a normal Formentor, hence you always notice stuck to the ground.
The VZ5 also has an integrated chassis control system that is responsible for optimizing all systems that influence lateral dynamics to ensure the best cornering.
The other element that shines with its own light is the steering, which has a set-up exquisite. Its progressivity varies depending on the pace we take and the information it transmits about what happens to the front axle tires is a real wonder. All this gives you absolute confidence to get the most out of it also on the road, where it has undoubtedly shone as much or more than on the track.
How much will the CUPRA Formentor VZ5 cost?
That is the big question, the one we asked those responsible for the brand and to which they answered that until we knew it, we still had to wait a few months. The CUPRA Formentor VZ5 is in its final phase of adjustments and homologation, and therefore They have not wanted to reveal the price that it will have.
What we do know is that it will be before the end of this year when orders can be placed, and if we take into account that a 310 hp CUPRA Formentor VZ costs 44,920 euros, and that an Audi RS Q3 with this 400 hp engine costs 73,750 euros, this CUPRA Formentor VZ5 should be among the 55,000 and 60,000 euros Price. The jump, with respect to the VZ 310 justifies that surcharge.
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