What is it?
Six months after the launch of the Formentor, Cupra has crowned its first stand-alone model line with this, the turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder VZ5.
With 385bhp, it is Cupra’s most powerful SUV yet. This compares with the 306bhp of the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine used by the VZ 310, up until now the most potent of an extended range of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid Formentor models from the Seat-operated brand.
Cupra says production of the VZ5 will be limited to just 7000 units – all in left-hand drive. That’s not deterring the firm from offering the new model in the UK, though, where it will be available through selected dealerships for orders on a limited basis later this year.
A number of subtle styling changes help to visually differentiate the headlining Formentor from its less powerful siblings. These include a restyled front bumper with a more pronounced carbonfibre splitter element and wider wheel-arch flares all round.
At the rear, Cupra has fitted its flagship with a new lower-bumper assembly that features a uniquely styled diffuser, quad tailpipes with two exhausts stacked atop each other at either side, and VZ5 identification on the tailgate.
The VZ5 also comes as standard with uniquely styled 20in wheels and receives upgraded brakes developed by Japanese specialist Akebono, with six-pot calipers acting on 375mm steel discs at the front and new single-pot units at the rear.
Inside, there is a model-specific steering wheel and heavily contoured sport seats, together with new trim elements in Cupra’s trademark copper colour, among other subtle changes in an otherwise impressively equipped and smartly styled cabin.
The VZ5’s driveline is closely related to that of the upcoming third-generation Audi RS3. Together with the transversely mounted five-cylinder petrol engine, it brings a standard seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles and a newly developed four-wheel drive system with a so-called Torque Splitter that uses two differentials at the rear to provide torque vectoring across the rear axle.
Cupra says the VZ5 can deploy its reserves faster and more intuitively than the VZ 310, which uses an older, Haldex-derived system. The key to the developments brought by the Torque Splitter is the ability to apportion drive individually to each of the rear wheels in a process similar to a mechanical locking differential. This has allowed Cupra to provide it with a Drift mode. One of five different driving modes, it can be called into action once the three-stage electronic stability control is switched off. The other drive modes are Comfort, Sport, Cupra and Off-Road. There’s also an Individual setting to allow you to tailor the car to your own particular taste.
Predictably, the Formentor’s chassis has been retuned to help it cope with the added reserves. The MacPherson strut front and four-link rear suspension receives a 10mm reduction in ride height compared with other Cupra Formentor models. There is also greater negative camber to the front wheels, and the springs and dampers are described as being unique to the VZ5, too.