Reviews

CUPRA Formentor VZN review

Priced from £48,270 OTR (the VZ3 is £47,515), CUPRA declares this has “enhanced styling and racing look with 19-inch matte black alloys and detailing, black Dinamica bucket seats and a panoramic sunroof.”

What is it?

Here we have the CUPRA Formentor VZN.  What is likely to be the mid-life “end of run” model before we see the facelift revealed, which is currently expected in 2024.

Described as a limited edition, It is essentially the VZ3 mode with more styling options and trim.   It is only available with the 2.0 TSI 310PS DSG-auto 4Drive powertrain.

The model we have for review is in Mountain Green, which is an exclusive colour to the limited edition VZN.

Priced from £48,270 OTR (the VZ3 is £47,515), CUPRA declares this has “enhanced styling and racing look with 19-inch matte black alloys and detailing, black Dinamica bucket seats and a panoramic sunroof.”

So what do we think of this limited edition version, does it deserve the price premium as the most expensive Formentor in the UK? Read on to find out.

Verdict

The CUPRA Formentor with some cosmetic upgrades as an outgoing pre-facelift model. Recommended if you’ve got the cash to burn and want some exclusivity. We’d personally stick with the next spec down that includes the Brembos for the price if it was our money though.

Our rating

4 stars out of 5

What we didn’t like

  • Brembo callipers missing versues the cheaper VZ3
  • Laggy throttle response
  • Gearing on drive mode leaves you wanting

Exterior

From the outside to the untrained eye, I suspect most Formentors look very similar and someone not familiar with the brand would likely not notice a huge difference between editions. For those of us who do notice the difference, the changes here are still quite mild on this one.

The external standard changes here from the cheaper VZ3 are as follows:

  • 19-inch sport black alloys in a matte finish (I think the gloss ones looked better)
  • Matte black grille, cladding and mirror covers (I think the gloss ones look better)
  • Black chrome CUPRA lettering
  • Top view camera
  • Virtual pedal and electric tailgate
  • REMOVAL of Brembo Brakes

The VZ3 comes with front Brembo Calipers, yet the more expensive VZN we are reviewing here does not.  This feels like a major omission on CUPRA’s part despite the other items included above the cheaper model.

This review car is in Mountain Green, which is exclusive to this edition. I liked it. It wouldn’t be a personal choice for me as it’s a bit too subtle, but that seems to be the trend with car colours these days. Multiple shades of [insert dark colour of your choice here].

This edition also gets matt versions of the wheels of the other models, but personally, I think they’ve lost something by going matt. I don’t think I’m a fan of matt on wheels as I felt the same when I reviewed the CUPRA Ateca; you make like them however as all of these things are subjective of course.

The lettering on the back is in black chrome, and the mirror parts and external trim are in black matt. That’s about it for the external changes over the VZ3. Oh, and you also get to wiggle your foot under the boot to automatically open it as a standard spec on this version.

Interior

The internal standard changes from the VZ3 are as follows:

  • Panoramic sunroof
  • BeatsAudio
  • Dinamica/Leather Black Electric Bucket Seats

I do largely like the interior of the Formentor, the driving position is good as is the visibility of the road. I still find it a bit odd to see the bonnet, but you get used to it. The seats are very comfortable as is the steering wheel and position of everything you need – with of course the exception of the climate controls which are crap but we’ve gone on about that before. The VW group have finally seen the error of their ways, and we will see the return of physical buttons, let’s hope they make it into the Formentor Facelift.

Fit and finish is good as we’ve come to expect and the kit you get is what you’d expect for a car in this price range.

The interior lighting is impressive, and the wrap-around LED on the dash is cool, as is the vehicle passing indicator that is built into the sides of the light strip. The light strip can be distracting at night as it is quite bright, but again you get used to it.

Illuminated door sills greet you as you enter the vehicle and there is plenty of head and leg room both in the front and the back.

The press car in this review had a bit of a creak coming from the back left-hand side which was disappointing for a car so new, well for a car of this price full stop.

Overall however the interior is comfortable and feels suitably sporty and of a high enough quality.

Driving and Performance

The Formentor handles well, as we have come to expect by now, and this model is no different.  The chassis is exactly the same as the other models we have reviewed so nothing much new to report here. The car hides its bulk over the Leon well and still feels nimble and aggressive when you want it to be.

The driving position remains comfortable, as does the steering. Being slightly higher up offers good visibility without taking you into SUV territory.  

The only areas where I’m left wanting with the car are the throttle response and the gearing when in drive mode.  This isn’t new to the DSG Formentor lineup or the DSG CUPRA Leons, for that matter. However, having been driving my manual Ibiza Cupra for a long while now, it feels a lot more pronounced and frustrating. 

Pulling away from a standstill, even when in sports mode on the gearbox, is just a lag fest. There feels like a delay that is far too long to be acceptable.  You push your foot to the floor, and the car just doesn’t respond for what feels like 3-5 seconds.  Maybe I should have timed it in hindsight.

Then we come into the gearing when in Drive mode on the gearbox.  It just doesn’t feel sporty at all, and there were some very delayed gear changes where I found myself saying to the car, “What are you waiting for?”

If you put it into sports mode, apart from the lower down issue again, when driving, it feels plenty fast and responsive. However, driving in sports mode all the time is going to do your head in.

I feel the drive mode should sit somewhere between the current drive mode and sports mode as the default for a car with this engine and the CUPRA badge.

I know there are paddle shifters to take over manually, and I did use this a few times; a) there still seemed to be a delay when downshifting b) if I had an automatic, I would want 99% of the driving to be handled for me without me constantly having to take over because the stock gearbox and throttle choices left me wanting.

Maybe this is all a little harsh, so existing owners feel free to chip in.  Maybe I’m spoiled by having a great manual gearbox on my daily driver. But then again, I’m not the only one who’s found this.

Last thoughts

I hope CUPRA do something with the throttle response and DSG settings on the facelift. As for me, that’s the only letdown with the car. Have I been too harsh here? Am I spoiled by my daily driver manual Ibiza? Let me know in the comments.

Either way, I’d strongly suggest you drive one for yourself before taking the plunge, as it could be a non-issue for you. As I said I’ve probably just become spoiled by having a manual for so long. However, I don’t remember having these frustrations to the same degree with my CUPRA 300 (DSG) a few years back.

Specifications of the model in this review

  • Engine: TSI DSG 4Drive 310
  • Fuel Capacity: 2.0L
  • WLTP CO2: 193
  • WLTP Combined mpg: 32.1-32.8
  • Insurance Group 33E
  • Recommended on-the-road price: £48,270

AntoniosL

Active Member
Sep 30, 2021
44
23
I would not worry too much about the brakes. The Brembo callipers are matted to SHW rotors that were introduced to the year 2009 TTRS 8J which weighs less by 300 kilos. Most of the Formentor brake related problems are related to the so-called "Brembo" set-up (with the SHW rotors). I also went through the brakes pain, the dealship even acknowledged that there is a TPI on Brembo calipers and also replaced my rotors. At the end of the day I decided to upgrade to DBA 2 piece rotors. Thank God this was a bolt on possibility because of the Brembo callipers though.
 
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Jimbo

Active Member
Jul 19, 2023
10
3
I have a 310 vz2 and a cupra 300, agree on throttle response and gearing i much prefer driving the cupra, you can really ring the power out through the entire band and the brakes on that are savage compared to the formentor which at times feels scarily underbraked for a car of its weight.
 
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