It’s been a few years since Cupra has been on the market in New Zealand. It’s clear to see that Kiwis seem to like them. From what the team have seen from the Cupra range, you get your bang for your buck on the sporty models, with similar performance figures and higher spec level than some of the other well-known European brands.

The Cupra Formentor VZ is back with our team for another review. Rob Clubley reviewed the Cupra Formentor VZ | Car Review in 2021. The Formentor scored well with a 7.9 overall score, with its highest score on value. The price has gone up a little bit and with the addition of the Tribe Edition, we need to see what has changed.

Is it still as good value as it was back in 2021?

What We Like and Dislike About The 2023 Cupra Formentor VZ

What we like

  • Looks
  • Performance
  • Handling
  • Comfort
  • Equipment levels
  • Value

What we don’t like

  • Touch controls
  • No heads-up display
  • The rear seat headrests are very hard to remove
  • Booster seat fitment in the rear, due to headrests

What’s In The 2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Range?

Since 2021, the Formentor range has expanded from 2 to 5 variants. There are now the following options available in New Zealand. The VZ Tribe Edition is the vehicle we are currently road-testing.

  • Formentor V 110kW with 7-speed DSG ($51,990)
  • Formentor V 140kW 4Drive with 7-speed DSG ($59,900)
  • Formentor VZ 228kW 4Drive with 7-speed DSG ($73,900)
  • Formentor VZ Tribe Edition 228kW 4Drive with 7-speed DSG ($78,500)
  • Formentor V e-HYBRID 180kW PHEV with 6-speed DSG ($78,990)

The Tribe edition is new to the lineup and with it comes a selection of special options. Unlike the regular VZ which is available in 8 different colours, the Tribe Edition is only available in 2 colours. Midnight Black is also available on the regular VZ, however, Cliff Grey is an $850 option, which is also the colour of our review vehicle and is only available on the Tribe Edition. 

Where this gets a bit confusing is that you can option the Tribe Edition pack on the V E-Hybrid and the VZ, and once you do, your colour options are limited to Midnight Black and Cliff Grey. The other changes to the car include: Black Dinamica / leather seats, and 

The front grille, wheels, cladding parts and exterior mirror covers in Sport Black Matte. This package is a $4600 option. 

I must admit the Formentor VZ Tribe Edition in Cliff Grey does look very good; very sharp, very modern, and has just the right amount of sporty flair to say that it is not your normal family vehicle. The paint however has caused some controversy, is it grey or is it green? 

There are only a few options once you select the Tribe Edition, you can upgrade to Matrix LED Headlights for $1,700. Add in an electric panoramic sunroof for $2,900 or an electric released tow bar with a 50mm ball for $1,750. Last but not least you can upgrade to Brembo high-performance brakes with calipers in red for $4,500.

2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Range Standard Equipment Highlights

  • Front Assist, City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Protection
  • Adaptive cruise control  
  • Side Assist (blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert) 
  • Exit Assist (warning of vehicles/cyclists approaching from rear when opening door)
  • Rearview camera
  • Top view camera
  • Lane Assist
  • Travel Assist – combines adaptive cruise control and lane assist High-beam Assist
  • Front and rear curtain and side airbags Driver’s knee airbag
  • Central airbag (between front seats)
  • ISOFIX points in front passenger & outer rear seats with top tether anchorage points
  • Seatbelt reminders front and rear 
  • XDS Electronic differential lock system (maximises road holding and improves cornering)
  • Alarm (perimeter and interior monitoring) Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Driver fatigue detection 
  • 12.0″ colour touchscreen including Bluetooth, two USB-C ports and integrated voice control
  • Full Link including wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Wireless phone charger
  • Navigation with Mapcare (map updates for three years) Twin USB-C charging ports for rear seats
  • BeatsAudio® sound system featuring 9 premium speakers, 1 subwoofer, 340W Amplifier and surround sound technology. 
  • CUPRA Drive Profile that adjusts steering response, throttle response, gear shifts and suspension (V e-HYBRID & VZ). Up to five different drive modes: Comfort, Sport, CUPRA (V e-HYBRID & VZ), Individual and Off-road (V 4Drive & VZ)
  • Dynamic Chassis Control with CUPRA sport suspension 
  • Keyless Entry and Go (KESSY)
  • 10.25’’ digital instrument cluster with configurable display Speed-sensitive power steering
  • Mode 2 charging cable with 3-pin plug (5 hours from 0 to 100%) (V e-HYBRID)

Our Review Vehicle’s Optional Equipment

  • Tribe Edition Pack – (included in the Tribe Edition) 
  • Cliff Grey paint – $850

Including the optional equipment, our review car’s retail price is $79,350.

Don’t forget the NZ Government Clean Car Program, which adds a fee of $3,105 to the total price of this vehicle. With some luck this might get scrapped too. 

For a full list of specs and options available for the 2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition head on over to Cupra New Zealand’s website.

How Does The 2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Range Compare To Its Competition?

Not much has changed since the 2021 review; prices of everything have crept up, but the Cupra still stands out as a great value package.

Please note that DriveLife does its best to ensure the information below is correct at the time of publication, however, prices and models can change over time. Please bear that in mind when comparing models in the comparison table.

All prices below exclude the refund or additional cost of the New Zealand Clean Car Programme.

Make/ ModelEnginePower kW/NmSeatsFuel L/100kmBoot
Space,
litres
Price
Mercedes GLA352.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo225/40058435$111,700
BMW M235i2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo225/45057.6470$109,900
Audi SQ2 quattro (AWD)2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo221/4004.97.7335$85,990
Mini Countryman John Cooper Works Classic2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo225/45057.6450$79,600
Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo228/31057.7345$78,500
Cupra Formentor VZ2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo228/31057.7345$73,900
VW T-Roc R2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo221/40059.3392$69,990

First Impressions Of The 2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Range

The Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition has a strong presence, especially in the Cliff Grey. The Cupra brand promotes pure performance, the v-designed front grille and angular intake, combined with the sculpted door and rear arch line gives the overall feel and stance of this Formentor a sporty vibe.

What I like about the current Cupra range is that the sporty feel is reminiscent of the designs of the early 2000s where the top of the top-of-the-range models were a lot more subtle, which made the cars feel a bit like sleepers. It has some sporty appeal, but it doesn’t shout from the hilltops with crazy body styles that it can do 0-100km in under 5 seconds.  

What’s The Interior Like In The 2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Range?

Inside, the 2023 Formentor has seen very little change; fit and finish is excellent and the plastics feel solid and stylish. The main difference with the Tribe Edition is the Black Dinamica / leather seats with the Alcantara centre section. These look great and make it feel like a very high-end sports car.

These seats are comfy, more so than the fully leather seats as the Alcantara has a bit more stretch than the leather. It also breathes a bit better, so there will be less chance of getting too sweaty on those hot days. Adjustment of the seats is nice and quick; the previous driver must have been short as the seat was at the highest setting. But it took no time at all to adjust back down for me, and it impressed me with the full range of height adjustment. 

The rear seats are equally well-appointed and there’s good leg room for a car of this size. However, I did have one issue with them when fitting my daughter’s booster seat. She is 6 and in a Britax Highpoint Booster seat with back and side support. In most cars, I need to remove the headrests in the rear to allow the booster seat to rest back on the vehicle’s rear seat. But I could not figure out how to remove the headrest, I tried for several minutes, on both sides and couldn’t remove them. This was a problem, as it left the booster seat pushed forward with a gap behind the seat, which my daughter didn’t like, as she was sitting too upright. 

The driver has a fully digital 10.2” display which is configurable with all sorts of displays from a simple digital speedo, rev counter with boost and G-meters, or full-colour satnav map just to give a few examples. It’s bright and clear and easy to read. There’s no heads-up display, which would be nice to have in a sporty car like this. 

One area where Cupra have added their flair to the car is with the steering wheel. There’s the usual array of buttons for cruise control, operating the menus in the driver display, and audio. They’re all pretty logically laid out, though I found it a little awkward at first having a left-hand thumb wheel for the volume and right-hand buttons for track skipping. Where the Cupra magic happens is with the two big round buttons at about 4 and 8 o’clock on the steering wheel, for engine start and drive modes. In other VAG cars, the start, and particularly the drive mode buttons feel like a bit of an afterthought and are not immediately to hand. Cupra has fixed this, realising that these are part of the driving experience of your sporty car.

One button I found a bit out of place was the Traction Control button, which is right above the gear selection toggle. I am sure if you owned the car this would not be an issue, but I found myself trying to use this button to start or stop the car many times as it felt like the place to put the engine start/stop button. 

The Bluetooth connection worked well and consistently. You can use both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay wirelessly if they are your thing. The 340W Beats Audio surround sound system is very good, with the 9 speakers supplying good clarity, and decent bass helped by a sub in the middle of the spare wheel.

The rear seats are 60/40 split for load flexibility and there’s a ski hatch behind the centre armrest. Boot capacity is a respectable 345 litres, or 1,415 litres with the seats folded. The boot is a good shape, with bag hooks and steel tie-down loops.

What’s The 2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Range Like To Drive?

Like all great sports and performance cars, the experience needs to be a show. The Cupra driving experience starts with the big round button on the steering wheel. One press of this with the brake pedal depressed and the engine fires into life. The car defaults to Comfort mode but hit the Cupra button on the other side of the steering wheel twice, once for Sport mode and once again and you’re in Cupra mode. This tightens up steering response, throttle response, gear shifts and suspension, and makes a more aggressive noise. The Sports and Cupra modes give some great sounds, and you get some pops and cracks from the exhaust when in Cupra mode too. 

Just so I cover all the options the Cupra button cycles through Comfort, Sport, Cupra, Individual and Off-road. These all work as you’d expect. No Eco mode so if you want to drive your sports SUV efficiently it’s up to you to moderate that right foot in Comfort mode.

Around town the Cupra is easy to drive – its relatively small size means it fits well around Wellington’s occasionally tight and congested roads. And it fits easily into car parks, unlike some larger SUVs. The smart cruise works well and comes to a complete stop. It can be a bit jerky at low speeds, but I found the same when driving it myself. Something about the transmission or the throttle tuning made it tricky to drive smoothly at low speeds. 

I like the way Cupra has integrated the blind spot warning into the ambient LED strip in the doors. When there’s a car in your blind spot the front section of the strip glows bright orange. Neat, and a clever re-use of an existing component.

The Formentor feels quite nippy around town but like the Audi S3 it shares a powertrain with, in normal driving, it disguises its 228kW of power pretty well. It’s easy to forget how powerful this car is.

On the motorway, everything is fine. Ride comfort is good and road noise isn’t intrusive. But this is a sporty SUV, and once you get out of the city and off the highways it’s time to hit that Cupra button. When you do there’s a pronounced growl of engine noise, everything tightens up, and when you lift off the accelerator there’s childishly satisfying pops and woofling noises. Accelerate hard and the Formentor will demonstrate its rather rapid 4.9 second 0-100 time, making the classic dual-clutch “DSG farts” as it shifts gear so quickly you can hardly tell it’s doing it – except the speedo digits are going up pretty rapidly.

It was a pity to see there was no engine cover, an issue that has been seen in many of the VW Audi group products over the last couple of years. Hopefully this can be addressed, as no one likes getting a new car that’s not finished.

Thanks to the four-wheel drive system and XDS Electronic differential lock, cornering and grip are impressive. In the few times I drove the Formentor on winding roads I never even approached any limits of traction or grip. It’s impressive, as is the way it controls body roll. It suffers a little from the same issues that I had with the Audi S3, that it’s somehow a little too competent, and feels like it wants to go way faster than speed limits allow. But you really can have a lot of fun with this car.

What about fuel consumption? Interestingly the factory figures on the car have changed since our last review, going from 7.7 to 8.6. When I drove the vehicle, I had a mix of short and medium trips, and many were at pace so I was somewhat over the advertised consumption, averaging 12.9l/100km. I’m confident this would be lower if you threw in a few longer trips or some economical driving to make more of a combined figure.

2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition – Specifications

Vehicle TypeSUV 
Starting Price$78,500 (excl CCP)
Price as Tested$79,350 (excl CCP)
Engine1,984cc 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Power, Torque
kW/Nm
228/310
Transmission7-speed DSG
Spare WheelSpace saver
Kerb Weight, Kg1,644
Length x Width x Height
mm
4450 x1839 x 1511
Boot Space / Cargo Capacity,
Litres
(seats up/seats down)
345/1415
Fuel tank capacity,
litres
55
Fuel Economy,
L/100km
Advertised Spec – Combined – 8.6
Real-World Test – Combined – 12.6
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
750 / 2000
Turning circle
metres
10.7
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty
5 years / 100,000 KMs mechanical warranty
5 years CUPRA Assist roadside assistance
3-year paintwork warranty
12-year anti-perforation warranty
Safety informationANCAP Rating – 5 stars – Link
Rightcar.govt.nz – 5 Stars – QAA607

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Driver Technology
7
Economy
7
Handling
7
Infotainment
7
Interior
7
Performance
8
Ride
7
Safety
9
Styling
8
Value
9
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It started at a young age with bedroom posters, the Countach of course. This slowly grew into a super car die-cast model collection, fifty five 1:18 models at the last count. At which point it had almost taken full control, the incurable Mad Car Disease ran deep though my veins all the way to the bone. And things for my loved ones just got worse as the cars where now being bought at 1:1 scale, after a BMW, HSV, and couple of Audi's, the disease reached my brain, pushing me over the edge and down the rabbits hole into the world of the bedroom poster.
2023-cupra-formentor-vz-tribe-edition-car-reviewThe 2023 Cupra Formentor VZ Tribe Edition is, as they say, a lot of car for the money. $79,350 is not cheap by any means, but the package delivers a high-end sporty vehicle and one that you can have a lot of fun with without having to be too worried about what you’re doing. <br><br> This is thanks to the great 4Drive system and the raft of driver safety systems that come as standard. The Cupra Formentor VZ is good clean fun, regardless of what the Clean Car Scheme thinks.  <br><br> It could be your biggest mistake to overlook the Cupra Formentor VZ while shopping for a new SUV in the $70,000-$90,000 range. I feel the Formentor's overall package would always stand out on top for amazing value.

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