CUPRA, SEAT's performance sub-brand, makes some truly fantastic driving cars. Razor sharp handling paired oodles of torque to boot, they perfectly marry driving prowess with daily practicality.
Though we are really doing the brand a disservice by summing up the CUPRA experience in this way. There's more to these cars than just space and power - with no legacy to worry about, CUPRA could tailor an interior experience that nicely scratches that design-itch, blending just the right amount of 'coolness' and 'atas-ness'.
If the CUPRA experience is a nuanced balance of all the above-mentioned elements, just what would happen if a spanner was thrown in the works? Would the resultant equation be thrown askew, and the car in question, therefore, be any less 'CUPRA'?
Down On Power, But Not On Fun
It's a tough question to answer. The Formentor 190 serves as the defacto 'base' model (it's a misnomer really, as the car is practically equipped with most of the quirks and features as you'd find any other CUPRA variant), and presents the lowest barrier of entry into owning up a hotted-up SEAT.And even that statement is factually incorrect - sure, it shares a platform with the CUPRA Leon, but the Fomentor is the first standalone model from the sub-brand.
Less Power And Greater Sense Of Occasion?
The car comes equipped with the glorious EA888 engine that we've spent a lot of time with. In all other guises, there's a decent amount of low-end grunt, with little turbo lag, and a strong finish up top.In a bid to create a lower-spec variant, CUPRA opted to detune the powerplant in the Formentor 190 to create a differential between it and the full-fat 310 model. There's less torque low down as compared to the other CUPRA-fettled EA888s, and of course, less peak power. Mid-range torque ist still generous, with a wide powerband to boot.
And in a really strange way, the drop in horsepower actually helps enhance the user experience of the car.
Unlike in other pacier VAG cars, the state of tune means the car does have some turbo lag. You’ll need to build a decent amount of revs to actually spool the turbocharger up enough to create usable boost, which actually adds to the visceral enjoyment of this car.Once you are on the move, the car naturally falls within the lower ranges of its powerband, with power available on whim if needed. You can still filter into gaps in traffic fairly easily, as even this ‘base’ model has more torque than most commuter cars. You can most definitely haul ass (figuratively), and many other things besides (and literally).
Where the drop in power really pays dividends though, is when it comes time to fill up. Throughout the time we have with the car, we spent a lot of time either pushing the car decently hard, or being stuck in bad traffic jams across our expressway network. Even so, the car returned a respectable 11km/l!
Can You Drive It Hard?
It has the same basic chassis as a lot of the hotted up VAG hatchbacks, so the same characteristics have been preserved. All the cornering capabilities of the car have been preserved, though you do find yourself driving this differently to the other MQB-Evo CUPRAs.With less power, you’re relying more on the car’s mechanical grip for pace, instead of brute power on the straights. It makes for a more entertaining drive when you really push the car, and the reduction in horsepower means you can more liberally use the throttle without fearing about losing your license.
But there’s something that is more enjoyable about its less frenzied pace though. When coupled with the 190's smaller rims, the ride, as a result of the taller side walls, means the car is more compliant over bumps, and is easier to live with generally.
The Interior Experience
Quality is still top-notch, despite it being the lowest priced avenue into CUPRA ownership. The cabin has an overall interior design that is virtually identical to other cars in their catalogue. You also get very similar materials and switchgear too.
As a compact crossover, space is good too. You'd really struggle to find a seating position that would induce discomfort even on longer drives. The car also comes equipped with the same semi-buckets that you'd find on the CUPRA cars with 300+bhp, though it does feel a tad overkill considering the 190's power output.
Still, it is a nice touch, despite being a little lower down on the overall VAG food chain.
Is This The CUPRA For You?
If you’ve always been a fan of the CUPRA aesthetic, but is a staunch believer in buying the right-powered cars for our local use, the Formentor 190 is a very compelling buy. It has all the hallmarks of what made CUPRA models good in the first place, but at a more palatable price tag and with generally lower running costs.In an era where horsepower figures have risen to stratospheric levels, it is refreshing to see an automaker offering a sensible alternative with a competitive price tag to boot!
Engine: 1,984cc Turbocharged Inline-4 Petrol
Fuel Consumption: 14.2km/l
Top Speed: 220km/h
Drivetrain: Seven-Speed DSG Automatic; All-Wheel Drive
Brakes: All-Round Ventilated Disc
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4,450mm x 1,839mm x 1,528mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 57L
Boot Capacity: 420L/1475L
Wireless Smartphone Charging
12" Infotainment Screen with Wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto
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