The modern crossover hatchback has become something of a statement in 2023: a car bought by those who don't want what everyone else has got.
Not quite hatchbacks, not quite estate cars and not quite compact SUVs either, they combine elements of all three breeds within a fairly compact footprint and are presented at a fairly affordable price. And, typically, they chuck in a dose of alternative style for good measure. In some quarters, they're known as sports utility coupés, in others even as fastbacks.
The increasing popularity of cars like these is beginning to undermine their status as alternative choices just a little. But for now, and for as long as other market segments continue to outstrip them for sales, a good crossover hatchback will remain an equally appealing leftfield option for what it is, as well as for what it does.
What they do, of course, varies a little depending on precisely how they're defined. Within this list, then, you will find responsible economy-biased options with hybrid powertrains but also performance-tuned derivatives and cars explicitly intended for off-road use. All are roughly C-segment-sized, however (we rank supermini-based compact crossovers here); and while few here need cost much more than £30,000, some can be snapped up for even less.
For years, Cupra was the sporting division of Seat, much like R is to Volkswagen, but today it stands as an independent brand, with unique model designs and an altogether more athletic calibre than that of the old mothership.
The Formentor wasn't the first product of the new Cupra operation (that was the 306bhp Cupra Ateca, introduced in 2019), but it is by far the most convincing, being rakishly handsome, surprisingly spacious, rounded, refined and pleasant to drive, appealingly versatile and enduringly alternative. We like it rather a lot.
The engine line-up is quite broad, taking in smaller and more economical petrols, a couple of plug-in hybrids and a choice of 2.0-litre turbo petrols, one of which uses the same four-wheel drive system and engine as the new Volkswagen Golf R. In other markets, Cupra even went as far as shoehorning Audi's thumping five-cylinder RS engine into the Formentor VZ5, although that was never offered for UK sale.
Being well priced in relation to premium-brand rivals and with an inviting, rich and well-executed interior (the VW Group's oft-criticised infotainment system notwithstanding), the Formentor sits pretty at the top our list of crossovers hatchbacks.