From £28,8959
Steering, suspension and comfort

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.

Pleasantly surprised by the Formentor. Its interior looks and feels way snazzier than that of its VW T-Roc R sibling, and its ride is comfier over distance. Its stance is properly mean-looking, too.

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.

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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.

It may have a slightly raised profile but it corners in creditably level and tenacious fashion, maintaining decent balance and composure even when pressed, and always settling and supporting its mass quickly.

Composed and predictable handling makes it easy to be smooth and precise, and to carry speed without great effort. That the chassis isn’t particularly sensitive to attempts to manipulate it with load transfer, trail-braking or throttle application makes it similar to related VW Group equivalents such as the Golf R or the Cupra Ateca, but it also makes it very predictable and stable on the limit.

Comfort and isolation

The driver’s seat doesn’t grant a particularly high-feeling vantage point, but visibility is good. The sports seats are strikingly comfortable, with well-judged backrest bolstering and an adjustable cushion angle. They’re particularly comfortable over distance and easy to slip in to and out of.

Both wind and road noise are kept reasonably low, with the suspension only protesting slightly over sharper edges because of those 19in wheels. Even so, the ride can be made surprisingly comfortable. Higher-end Formentors such as our test car get adaptive dampers as standard and they come with the same ‘DCC slider’ suspension controller (available in the car’s Individual driving mode) that’s found in the latest Golf GTI. Unlike in the Golf, however, the Formentor’s ride really can be made as supple and absorptive as you’re likely to want it to be, by sliding that bar and softening the dampers beyond where they might be set even in Comfort mode.

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This car clearly needn’t ride like something tall and firm with lots of lateral stiffness, then. It deals well with asymmetrical inputs and doesn’t shimmy around its roll axis too much over camber changes, while those decent isolation levels and medium-weighted controls decline to become wearing, even on longer journeys.