Cupra Formentor 1.4 eHybrid road test review

Cupra Formentor eHybrid road test review
Cupra Formentor eHybrid road test review – Purposeful styling and respectable performance, too.

Cupra Formentor 1.4 eHybrid road test review: Named after a Majorcan mountain, this sporty Plug-in Hybrid looks good and drives well, but DAVID HOOPER asks if it reaches the summit of desirability?

Cupra Formentor eHybrid road test review
Cupra Formentor eHybrid road test review – attractively designed dash is a delight to live with.

ELECTRIC cars are the future, we are told – I remain unconvinced that they are right for everyone at the moment, or that they will save the planet, but we are certainly being driven that way at the moment, almost like a flock of sheep being herded into an electric car pen.
Many electric cars are too expensive and the national charging infrastructure is inadequate – if you need to charge your car on a long journey, just finding a charger that’s working can be a challenge in itself, as many a motoring journo will testify.
But something like this Cupra Formentor eHybrid might be a good starting point for those wishing to dip their toes into the world of electric vehicles. Cupra is the sporty arm of SEAT, and there are two Plug In Electric Hybrid models in the Formentor range offering 201 or 242bhp – other more potent and conventionally powered options are available, including a 306bhp version with a 0-62mph time of just 4.9 seconds!
The Formentor itself, named after a Majorcan mountain, which I remember piloting a sporty Renault Megane down at considerable speed (we were late for lunch after soaking up the views for too long) is a comfortable travelling companion, with lots of tech, lovely sporty seats and enjoyable performance, thanks to its 201bhp power output, and a good sized boot for all the clutter of family life – and charging cables!

Our Formentor has a battery which gives the car a 37-mile range on its battery alone – enough for most people’s daily commute, running around town, the school run, shopping etc, but when you venture further afield, you can select the hybrid mode, which uses its 1.4-litre petrol engine and battery together, giving the car it’s optimum efficiency. When the battery eventually runs out on a longer trip, the petrol engine then seamlessly takes over, with the hybrid system gathering electricity when it can from braking or coasting to extend its range.
For me, if I had to go down the electric route, a PHEV would be my choice at the moment. It eliminates range anxiety because you always have petrol to fall back on, you can charge the car on a normal household socket in a few hours without have to go to the expense of installing a larger charger at your home, and you get some emissions free driving.
My commute to the office is 35 miles, and on two of those trips, I achieved 78 and then 104mpg, using a combination of electric and hybrid driving to best effect. You have to think about it though. You can choose when to use the battery, and the car allows you to save the battery until you want to use it, which is great. So driving to the town’s outskirts, I’m on the battery – the Formentor starts up in that mode as default. When I get into the countryside, and can drive nearer to 60mph, switch into hybrid mode, and then as I get into Hull and its appalling traffic congestion near the office, switch back to electric power only and you’re emissions free.
Clever stuff, although it would be cleverer still if there were buttons on the steering wheel, or on the centre console to switch between the drive modes instead of having to delve into the menus on the big central screen which I felt was over-complicated.
A big plus is that you can use the petrol engine to charge the battery while you’re driving – but that impacts the fuel consumption, of course.
Overall, I was quite impressed with the Formentor and its technology. As it was about to go back after a busy week’s motoring in which I clocked up more than 500 miles, a check of the overall consumption revealed an average of 47.7mpg, which is ok, but not great, especially when you consider that to achieve that, as well as the fuel, I had been paying extra to charge up the electric battery from my domestic supply, when a diesel engine, or even a particularly economical petrol engine could match that figure, but then for company car drivers, there are tax benefits too – at the moment, but how long will they continue as more drivers make the switch? The Chancellor will have a big hole in his revenue from fuel duty to fill soon.
So there’s no right or wrong answer to this debate, it depends on the sort of driving you do and the sort of journeys you make as to what will work for you, or not.
The Formentor itself, is a comfortable travelling companion, with lots of tech, lovely sporty seats, and enjoyable performance, so well worth a look.

Cupra Formentor eHybrid road test review
Cupra Formentor eHybrid features lots of sharp styling.

Rating: ★★★★★

If you like this, read our review on the SEAT Arona

MODEL: Cupra Formentor 1.4 eHybrid DSG
ENGINE: 1395cccc, 201bhp four-cylinder petrol engine, with a 6-speed gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 127mph. 0-62mph in 7.8 secs.
ECONOMY: Official electric range of up to 37 miles.
Combined: 47.9mpg.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 29g/km.
FUEL TANK: 40 litres.
PRICE: From £38,720
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles
• All data correct at time of publication.