Cupra is marking its third anniversary as a standalone brand from Seat, with a fiery five-cylinder Formentor VZ5 high-performance version. It’s the 2.5-litre TSI engine familiar from the hottest Audi RS3 and TT, promising a punchy 287kW and 480Nm in this application.
The Spanish car maker – a Volkswagen sub-brand that doesn’t sell cars in Australia – lauds performance as a cornerstone of its brand values, and the Formentor VZ5 doesn’t disappoint.
It dispatches the 0-100km/h sprint in a remarkable 4.2 seconds, while top speed is pegged at 250km/h. Tellingly, the news focus at the anniversary debut was all about those performance credentials - emissions and economy weren’t mentioned once.
Befitting a halo car sitting at the top of the range, the VZ5 gets a full athletic makeover: quad exhaust pipes hint at the fireworks beneath, extended wheel arches wrap around engorged 20-inch alloy wheels, and more serious Akebono six-piston brakes keep all that speed in check.
The Formentor’s chassis is tuned to handle the extra grunt, dropping 10mm for a sportier stance while the standard 4Drive all-wheel drive is designed to prevent wheelspin and keep you pointing in the right direction.
This is the most brutal Cupra yet, and they haven’t held back with the sporty accoutrements.
Unique bonnet and real carbon fibre splitter at the front? Yep. Flared wheel arches, rear faux diffuser and copper-tipped exhaust pipes? Check. Aggressive bucket-style seats and lashings of bronze detailing complete the interior fizz.
It’s all remarkably focused and old-school hot hatch, which might explain why Cupra will limit production to just 7000 units. The VZ5 will go on sale in autumn 2021 - and they’ll all be left-hand drive.
The VZ5 sits atop a growing brood of Formentor models.
Remind me… What is the Cupra Formentor exactly?
It’s the first standalone model launched under the breakaway Cupra nameplate.
While the rest of the family comprises spicier Seat Atecas and Leons, you won’t find an equivalent Seat version of the Formentor. It’s a rakish crossover that passes for more of a hatchback-on-stilts than the traditional SUV vibe of the Ateca.
The concept car was first shown at the 2019 Geneva motor show, and little-changed production versions went on sale in late 2020.
The name Formentor comes from a rugged cape on the northern tip of Mallorca, and definitely isn’t a ghoulish soul-sucker from Harry Potter (although the Cupra badging does lend a certain cartoon superhero flavour).
It’s a good-looking car, with dramatic rear haunches lending an athletic air to this crossover, and it’s not short on the Cupra brand’s nascent styling language: sharp angular headlights, a single light bar at the rear and copper-tipped accents galore, as per Cupra tradition.
Inside is, again, a lot like the new Cupra Leon, with which it shares the family Golf-alike MQB platform. This brings a big 12.0-inch central touchscreen, digital dials and all the latest connectivity features, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, online services and a big suite of safety kit.
A version of this story was originally published at carmagazine.co.uk