You get an abiding sense of a rightsized modern family car when you survey the passenger quarters and boot of the Formentor.
As a big hatchback, the car sits between the dimensional norms of the market’s C- and D-segments. It’s roomier in the back than a typical hatchback and, although not quite rivalling the likes of the Skoda Octavia or Honda Civic for outright space, it has good everyday practicality and carrying versatility.
But the space isn’t what will strike you about this interior at first. Instead, it’ll be Cupra’s imaginative application of colour and trim around the cockpit and its particularly bold ambient lighting features. Our test car came with ‘petrol blue’ leather with copper-coloured stitching and trim decor, a more subtle and rich combination than you might think, and one whose appeal to the eye really develops as light levels change. It attracted compliments almost universally from our testers.
You can’t fail to miss the strip of coloured ambient lighting running across the base of the Formentor’s windscreen and into either door. The illumination here is colour selectable and changes with the drive mode; and while it can seem a little overly bright and distracting at night, it adds just enough visual drama to the cabin once you’ve gone to the trouble of picking a shade and intensity for it that you like. It also doubles up to draw the eye to your mirrors, with a yellow visual accent, as cars enter your blindspot, which is a clever bit of technological synergy.
The VW Group’s fully digital 10.3in instrument console features as standard on all Formentors, as does a 12.0in touchscreen infotainment set-up. The former we like, thanks to plenty of configurability and not too much contrived visual flourish in the instrument layout; while the latter divides opinions a little more, not least because the physical controls that it offers for the adjustment of heater temperature and audio volume aren’t backlit so they’re as good as useless after dark.
There are a few places in which the material quality of the Formentor’s interior doesn’t quite match its ambitions, at the lower levels of the fascia and on the centre console, mostly. Even so, few would have bet on a brand spun off from Seat three years ago to produce an interior as rich, imaginative and inviting as this.
Cupra Formentor infotainment and sat-nav
The Formentor gets the VW Group’s third-gen MIB infotainment architecture, which is made up of a 12.0in colour touchscreen system with a limited amount of gesture control, and a few physical ‘slider’ controls immediately underneath to adjust heater temperature and audio volume (which ought to be backlit but aren’t). In the Formentor, digital instruments are standard.
The system cleverly overlays on its display screen permanent shortcut functions that can be used to hop between menus easily, or to perform routine functions like adjusting the ventilation or turning on a seat heater with one touch. As far as systems that insist on putting these controls through the touchscreen set-up go, it works well, but some testers would still have preferred easier to find physical controls.
Display clarity is good, navigation mapping is conveyed simply and neatly, and the system doesn’t seem to need much thinking time, although it did appear to rely on an unusually firm press on the screen to register an input. It comes with a 12-month subscription for networked navigation functionality.