What is it?
I’m still not sure how they did it. But by using a bunch of Volkswagen Group mechanicals, a spin-off badge from an existing VW group brand, and designing what, on the face of it, could just be yet another crossover, Cupra created a genuinely different, genuinely interesting car.
We’ve already driven the Cupra Formentor in its most powerful form, the 310, which means basically it has a Volkswagen Golf R’s 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine making 306bhp, and four-wheel drive to put it to the road.
Now for something less, and more, at the same time. This Formentor e-Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid version mating a 1.4-litre petrol engine to an electric motor, with a battery big enough to give up to 36 miles of zero-emission range.
The engine makes 148bhp and the motor 114bhp, but engines make most power when they’re spinning fast and motors make theirs when they’re spinning slowly, so combined, their maximum is 241bhp (labelled 245) rather than more. The maximum total torque output is 295lb ft and it’s delivered to the front wheels alone through a six-speed automatic gearbox, rather than through all-four wheels like the most powerful Formentor. This, as we’ll see, is quite important.
There’s a less powerful variant of this E-Hybrid too, which only makes 201bhp. But in either case there is a 12.8kWh of usable li-ion battery, which can be charged in around three and a half hours at 3.6kW and is too small to be charged any faster. Drive modes can preserve a set amount of battery power if you want to save it for use, say, in a city.
On the new WLTP official fuel economy drive cycle, the 241bhp Formentor is a 176mpg and 33g/km of CO2 car, figures to be taken lightly. If you charge it every night and run to the station or shops every day you’ll barely use any fuel at all; if you don’t charge it much and use liberal amounts of throttle, you’ll burn quite a lot. And also get through a few front tyres.