When Cupra – a name previously applied to the fastest models in the Seat range – was spun off as its own brand a couple of years ago, the expectation was a clear focus on fire-breathing performance machines. But while that’s largely proved to be the case, there is still room in the line-up for more modest offerings, which is why the list of engines available with the Formentor – an SUV-coupe that, unusually, lacks a direct counterpart elsewhere in the Volkswagen Group stable – starts with a 150hp petrol unit, the sort of thing you might expect to find powering a more typical family car.

Although it offers a relatively modest power output compared with the rest of the Formentor range (petrol engines with up to 310hp can be specced), the 150hp engine doesn’t ruin the driving experience. While it’s clear the chassis has been designed to cope with a lot more power, this unit still offers enough performance for the car to be enjoyable to drive within legal limits, and while its engine note when accelerating isn’t the most pleasant, it’s very refined the rest of the time. 

The engine is available with a six-speed manual gearbox or the seven-speed DSG auto tested here. The latter handles changes with aplomb when left to its own devices, but wheel-mounted shift paddles respond impressively quickly should the driver wish to take charge on a favourite road.

For a car with sporting aspirations, the Formentor’s chassis is superbly well judged. It feels poised and keen to corner without being overly lairy, and there’s loads of grip, with no trace of understeer when accelerating out of bends – without everything feeling too buttoned-down. The steering feels good and meaty, and the brakes are strong and highly intuitive, making it easy to modulate and judge when slowing for corners. As befits a performance brand, the suspension is geared more towards the firm side, but it’s certainly not uncomfortable, and deals adroitly with bumps and surface imperfections. Meanwhile, ride comfort at speed is retained without ever feeling floaty or wallowy (although there is a fair degree of wind noise at a cruise).

Considering our test car is in the V2 equipment grade – only one up from the base model – interior material quality is pretty good. Leather on the dashboard, doors, steering wheel and impressive sports bucket seats furnishes the interior with a high-quality feel, as does the dark wood and brushed metal dotted about.

A 10.25in digital cockpit display and 12in touchscreen sat-nav are standard throughout the range. Both are pin-sharp graphically, and the infotainment system is fairly straightforward to navigate thanks to shortcut symbols at the bottom and a convenient shelf to brace your hand against during operation. Although overly complicated touch controls for the cabin temperature and stereo volume are a bit unnecessary, they at least seem more responsive here than in other VW Group cars we have tried.

Despite its coupe aesthetic, the Formentor still works as a family car – the back seats have good leg and headroom, and the boot is decently spacious.

The Formentor has much to commend it for those seeking something different from the hatch or SUV norm, and from our test there’s no reason for a driver with the 150hp engine to feel short-changed on the road. It’s just a little disappointing that this entry-level motor doesn’t do better from a company car tax point of view, with official CO2 emissions of 155g/km in the spec tested, placing it in the 35% BIK band, only 2% below the 310hp range-topper. Opting for a manual gearbox would deliver a bit of a saving, however it still predictably comes nowhere close to threatening the plug-in hybrid version we reviewed last month as the BIK star of the range – although it should be noted the 150hp version does offer particularly impressive predicted residual values alongside a cheaper purchase price.

Cupra Formentor 1.5 TSI V2 150PS DSG 

P11D: £30,060

Residual value: 47.4% 

Depreciation: £15,802

Fuel: £8,422

Service, maintenance and repair: £2,457

Cost per mile: 44.46p

Fuel consumption: 40.9mpg

CO2 (BIK %): 155g/km (35%)  

BIK 20/40% a month: £175/£351

Luggage capacity: 450 litres

Engine size/power: 1,498cc/150hp