Firstly, and rather confusingly, although the Formentor you see here is powered by a 310PS (228kW) 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder – yes, Volkswagen nerds, it’s the same EA888 engine you’ll find in the Golf R, Cupra Leon, Audi S3 and so on – you can have a Formentor as a 245PS or 204PS hybrid, or with a 190PS or 150PS engine. Doesn’t that seem a little confusing when Cupra is the performance brand?
As well as 310PS there’s 410Nm (303lb ft) of torque. The Formentor has all-wheel-drive and a seven-speed double-clutch gearbox, and so 0-62mph is dispatched in 4.9 seconds and the top speed is 155mph. It is not the most characterful engine but there’s no denying its effectiveness, with a strong kick from 2,500rpm to just below the 6,500rpm redline. There’s a moment of turbo lag everywhere but that’s to be expected. The all-wheel-drive system isn’t the most aggressive – you can’t feel the power moving around from corner to corner as you can in some other all-wheel-drive VW products – but it still pulls you out of every corner without fuss in any condition.
To make the engine a little more sonorous you can hop through the car’s drive modes, namely Off-Road, Comfort, Sport, Cupra and Individual. Jumping from Comfort to Sport there’s a smidge more noise, as if you went from conversing in a library to a coffee shop (in Comfort you’re really well insulated from the engine). From Sport to Cupra however is like falling out of the coffee shop and into an AC/DC show – the Formentor is shouting as if determined to prove to you just how sporty it is. Sadly, although there’s an added pop to the exhaust, all of that noise is for the occupants ears only, synthesised through the speakers. You may love it – it’s certainly theatrical – but for me fiction should be kept to books and film, not engine sounds.
Jumping through the modes changes other areas of the car’s character, too, from the steering weight to the throttle and gearbox response, and the electronically controlled hydraulic dampers. The steering is a bit too light sub-40mph, but above that and particularly in Cupra mode it has a healthy weight to it. The gearbox is smooth in any mode, relaxed in comfort and ready to kick down in Sport and Cupra, without holding the engine revs too high. It’s the dampers that are interesting, though, offering up a controlled if slightly choppy ride in Comfort and a firmer, more hunkered down feel in Cupra. In Individual mode you’re given the option to adjust the dampers on a sliding scale through 15 settings, the softest even more compliant than in Comfort and the hardest even more tied down than in Cupra.