CUPRA – The start of an era or a flash in the pan?

CUPRA – The start of an era or a flash in the pan?

If you’ve come here on the off chance we’ve misspelt Toyota’s iconic ‘Supra’, you’ll be disappointed, but you could shortly be pleasantly surprised. Introducing, CUPRA.

It’s rare that we get to see a company fresh into a heavily saturated market. The competition is rife, and the chance of success as a relatively unknown company is little to none if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Luckily, CUPRA do know what they’re doing. They’ve been doing it for years – working as an sub-brand of Spanish Manufacturer, SEAT.

CUPRA has proven to be hugely popular with SEAT, with many hot hatch fans being avid admirers of the CUPRA SEAT Leon.

CUPRA Leon – Image Courtesy of SEAT Media Centre

CUPRA specialise in high-performance versions of SEAT cars – think of them as the ‘R’ to the VW range, or the ‘VXR’ to Vauxhall. But, whilst ‘R’ and ‘VXR’ are the designs of their respective companies, CUPRA are now a stand-alone brand.

The CUPRA Seat Leon has been heavily praised for its looks and performance, being in direct competition with the VW Golf GTI. CUPRA had a go with the CUPRA SEAT Ateca also – the sports version of the SEAT Ateca SUV that has also drawn strong reviews – with badge change and all.

CUPRA Ateca – Image Courtesy of SEAT Media Centre

There’s something strangely satisfying with the branding of CUPRA, their badge gives the impression your CUPRA might transform into Optimus Prime at any given moment – and the lines aesthetically give off the impression of a high-end vehicle.

CUPRA, since going alone, has recently released their first vehicle – The Formentor – with plans for their first all-electric hatchback to be released in 2022. Fancy a look? It would be rude not to.

The Formentor

CUPRA Formentor
Image Courtesy of SEAT Media Centre

It’s rare I get distracted by passing cars on the daily commute, other than the occasional GT3 or Urus. That was until recently when I was stuck behind a CUPRA Formentor – and for the life of me I couldn’t work out what it was, but it impressed me enough to Google it when I got in, and to write this piece.

The Formentor is marketed as a ‘Cross-Over’, somewhere between a Hatchback and an SUV – though I like to think of it as more of an SUV. It’s been billed in reviews as the ‘affordable Urus’ – there are definitely worse comparisons out there.

The CUPRA’s first stand-alone car comes with a host of different power-trains – meaning if you like how it looks, there’s a spec for everybody. As an entry-point, there’s a 1.5-litre petrol engine, producing 148bhp. Moving up from there CUPRA have introduced a plug-in Hybrid 1.4-litre turbo engine which produces 242bhp. Finally, at the top of the range, is the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, which has 306bhp – effectively making it an all-roady Golf R – not bad.

The entry-level model 1.5-litre engine looks set to get you sensible performance (0-60 in 8.6 seconds/ 126 mph) and roughly 42-mpg – which isn’t bad for an “SUV”. The hybrid model being is theoretically able to produce 188mpg which is truly extraordinary – what would be more extraordinary is if you ever managed to find the driving conditions to get to this efficiency. Either way though, it’s one of many talking points CUPRA have brought to the table.

In my opinion, CUPRA has absolutely nailed the looks on their first-ever stand-alone vehicle. The Formentor oozes luxury, from CUPRA’s copper detailing on the badge and trim, to the striking lines of the bodywork. There are a choice of wheels – either 18″ or 19″ – along with a number of customisations to ensure the CUPRA can be specced just the way you like it.

To the rear are quad-exhausts and a profile that I think has every right to be in the running for ‘SUV rear of the year’.

CUPRA Formentor
Image Courtesy of SEAT Media Centre

The interior impresses also. With ‘bucket’ seats up front, and raised rear seats, the positioning of the seats reminds me ever so slightly of the Bentley Bentayga.

CUPRA Formentor
Image Courtesy of SEAT Media Centre

As standard, CUPRA have fitted the Formentor with one of the most impressive steering wheels you could expect to get on a vehicle of this price (we’ll get to that shortly). The Start/Stop button can be found on the bottom right of the steering wheel’s centre console, which is something you come to expect from high-end sports cars, not mid-range cross-overs.

CUPRA Formentor
Image Courtesy of SEAT Media Centre

The CUPRA’s infotainment system is a 12″ touch system that is raised above the dashboard – a set up that many people see as distracting and too in your face. It never stopped Tesla though, and it doesn’t seem like CUPRA are too bothered either. The infotainment system comes with everything you’d come to expect, including Apple CarPlay, which has soared in popularity of late due to it’s user-friendly link up with your phone. The Formentor has wireless charging for your phone, too.

Surprisingly, the CUPRA Formentor starts at just £27,125 for its entry point 1.5-litre ‘V1’ model, raising to £39,830 for its top of the range 2.0-litre ‘VZ2’ model. You can expect to pick up a hybrid Formentor starting at roughly £35,000.

Plans for the future?

CUPRA have recently announced the launch of their all-electric vehicle, CUPRA Born, which is set to launch in left-hand drive in Europe in September of this year, but not expected to reach the UK until early 2022.

Image Courtesy of SEAT Media Centre

Here’s what we know:

  • Up to 355 mile range
  • Up to 231bhp
  • 45Kwh, 58Kwh or 77Kwh options
  • 62 miles of extra range in seven minutes charge
  • Single Motor
  • 0-60mph in 6.6 seconds

CUPRA has made a good start with their entrance into the car market as a stand-alone brand, and whilst it will always be difficult to make an impact in the prestige and performance car space, upon first inspection the Spanish manufacturer look to be hitting all the right notes.

If you’re considering a CUPRA – or maybe something else – make sure you check out our finance calculator. Alternatively, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team who have a range of finance products available for you.