The 306bhp version of the Formentor isn’t quite quick enough to really surprise or excite. That task is likely to be left to the five-cylinder version that’s coming later.
However, it has a very muscular performance level that is more than serious enough to keep you interested in the driving experience and that, thanks to the car’s unbreachable traction and pragmatic chassis tuning, can be fully (if judiciously) deployed on the public road even in less than perfect driving conditions without making its driver feel boorish, profligate or antisocial. This is the kind of car that a ‘real-world performance’ billing was coined to describe.
The flexibility and linearity on offer from the VW Group’s EA888 2.0-litre motor here are typically great. We noted the merest flat spot from it under load when spinning at less than 2500rpm, and a sudden rush of torque immediately thereafter – but it’s the kind of weakness that only a road tester doing in-gear acceleration tests would be likely to find.
It spins from middling revs up to beyond 6000rpm with real vigour and freedom and the noise it makes inside the cabin, although quite clearly digitally augmented when you pay it close heed, doesn’t grate on the ear. From the outside, as one tester noted, the Formentor sounds surprisingly ordinary, and an engine with more than four cylinders might well have needed less enhancement. But it’s to the benefit of the car’s dynamic versatility that it can be so quiet in Comfort driving mode, and perhaps attract little of the wrong kind of attention when driven quickly, and yet still sound lively and enticing to its driver.