The Formentor handles like a fast crossover that knows what it’s for, which sounds straightforward enough but it’s not as common as you might think. Instead of doing some doomed, jacked-up impression of a circuit-estranged hot hatchback, it has just the right amount of grip, agility and body control blended with the kind of any-weather, any-surface stability, compliance, composure and drivability that would make the car a natural choice for the quicker, keener sort of everyday driving.
The car’s clutch-based four-wheel drive system and its taut but measured, progressive suspension tune make it stable and sure-footed over bumps and on slippery surfaces. The variable-rate steering is usefully weighty in the sportier driving modes and doesn’t pick up pace so quickly off-centre as to suddenly become hyper-responsive. It filters quite a bit and some testers would have preferred more tactile feel, but the way it’s tuned nonetheless suits the brisk, compliant, easy-driving temperament of the car well.
Body control is subject to a little roll when cornering hard, but grip levels are medium-high and turn-in comes with a clear sense of keenness and immediacy. When exiting bends, the chassis maintains good dynamic balance, but it does feel natively front driven ultimately, gently washing wide to signal its limits if you open the throttle early rather than vectoring torque to the rear to keep the chassis rotating under pressure.
In that respect, dynamically at least and predictably enough, this is more like a longer-travel Golf R wagon than a reincarnation of some noughties-era Subaru; supple, stable, fast and pleasingly composed, but given to little in the way of expressive body movement and offering little or no throttle adjustability.
The wheel and tyre specification that Cupra has chosen – a biggish rim but a fairly generalist Bridgestone Turanza tyre – allows the car to deal well with wet conditions. Any scrub radius there may be at the front axle doesn’t make the steering dive one way or the other through kerbside standing water, while the suspension maintains grip levels and keeps the tyres on the ground very effectively.
On an imagined hatchback handling spectrum that has circuit-ready specials like the Renault Mégane Trophy-R at one end and highriding, dirt-loving, four-wheel-drive crossovers like the Subaru XV at the other, the Formentor belongs much closer to the former than the latter.