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Cupra's new Formentor is now available as a plug-in hybrid with a choice of power outputs.
We sample the likely fleet favourite Formentor E-Hybrid following our evaluation of the range-topping model.
Standard equipment on VZ2:
19in machined alloy wheels, black leather bucket seats with copper stitching, digital cockpit, full LED headlights and rear 'coast to coast' LED lights, 12in touchscreen navigation, heated steering wheel, four USB Type C ports, auto-dimming rear view mirror, three zone air conditioning with control panel in rear, adaptive cruise control (with 'follow-to-stop') and speed limiter, keyless entry and start, rear view camera, road sign recognition, high-beam assistance, exit assist and lane-change assist.
If someone was asked 50 years ago what a performance car looked like, they might have suggested a low, sleek two seater, or maybe a two-plus-two for a little extra practicality.
Since then, we have been through the era of high-performance saloons, such as the BMW M5, AMG-engineered Mercedes-Benzes, hot hatches, potent diesels, but in the past few years things have been transformed.
Performance cars can now take any shape and, increasingly, electrified power is also becoming popular.
We reported last month on the addition of a plug-in hybrid version of the new Skoda Octavia VRS, and the same power unit can be specified in the Cupra Formentor.
We sampled the range-topping 310hp Formentor a few months ago, but since then plug-in hybrid and entry-level 150hp 1.5-litre petrol versions have been added to the range.
The plug-in hybrids offer customers the choice of either 204hp or 245hp variants, both using a 1.4-litre engine and electric motor powering the front wheels.
Our initial plug-in experience is with the 245hp variant, which offers more than 30 miles of electric range according to WLTP, and for the current financial year, BIK tax of 11%. The lower-power variant, which will feature in the magazine later this summer, offers the same tax liability but benefits from having a lower P11D value, making it more tax efficient.
The Formentor leads Cupra's foray into plug-in vehicles and will be followed in a few months by the fully electric Cupra Born.
The Formentor itself is also the first Cupra model in its own right rather than a Seat with aggressive styling kit and different badges.
It adopts an SUV-like profile, giving it a loftier stance than the Leon, although it does appear less tall than many SUVs for this money, adding to its more dynamic appeal. Cupra's characteristic copper trim highlights also make it stand out from the norm.
The sporty nature of the Formentor might not be best served by being able to drive on electric, but drivers (and passengers) who appreciate noise will be pleased to know the engine has quite a deliberate (and artificially enhanced) gruff edge when 'Cupra' mode is selected.
The most extreme mode sharpens the car's responses and makes it sound less environmentally friendly than it actually is.
The car feels well balanced and stable - with additional weight over standard petrol versions mounted low - and the instant torque of the electric motor eliminates any impression of inertia the Formentor might otherwise have.
The roomy cabin and general easy performance of the Formentor will appeal, although we still struggle a little with the controls of the multimedia system. No doubt a company car driver choosing one would learn to operate it more expertly after a few weeks of living with the car.
The Formentor E-Hybrid has particular appeal to company car choosers and will help no end establishing this off-shoot of Seat as a brand in its own right.