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Editors Julian and Jeremy from sgCarMart and Torque take out two different Cupra Formentor variants and battle out to see which is better.

23 Jun 2021

Julian is all about 'dollars and sense', but he can't look past the Formentor VZ

When it comes to cars, especially for us Singaporeans, financial calculation is key. For the amount we have to fork out for a car, coupled with payable taxes and a limited lifespan of a decade before your vehicle's COE expires, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that every cent counts.

Julian will take the Formentor VZ any day of the week and twice on Sundays
For instance, the higher your car's displacement capacity, the higher your annual road tax will be. Likewise, in theory, since power is the speed at which energy is converted, the more powerful your car is, the higher your fuel consumption will be.

So there are a lot of things to consider before choosing a car of your choice, especially if you're like me where the pockets are as dry as a seven-year drought and you've got dust for tears and are all tapped out.

But the Cupra Formentor seems to have gotten me in a pickle. There are three variants available, all with different power outputs - a 148bhp, 188bhp and the 306bhp - with the least powerful sporting a 1.5-litre powerplant instead of a 2.0-litre like the other two.

Both variants have similar boot space of 420 litres
And while it would be the most sensible to choose the mid variant like Jeremy has, I can't seem to look past the most powerful and decidedly most desirable variant, which is quite a no-brainer.

Yes, it costs some $31,000 (as of 17 June 2021) more than the mid variant, but it also has 118bhp more. This translates to a century sprint of over two seconds faster! And needless to say, it is accompanied with a more appealing soundtrack that's worthy of a rock and roll concert.

Best of all, the two cars we're talking about here have the same displacement capacity of 2.0-litres, which means Jeremy will be paying the same annual road tax of $1,194 as I am. They also sport the same dimensions, which also means I'll be enjoying the same sort of functional space he'll be getting with his less powerful and, thus, less exciting car.

Both variants also sport a similar 2.0-litre powerplant, but the Formentor VZ (pictured) is much more powerful
And when it comes to the appearance department, both cars look the same, with the exception of the exhaust. But if no one points it out, most casual observers will be none the wiser. Honestly, you can't blame anyone. The Formentor possesses such an aggressive good look that I highly doubt a minute difference in exhaust design is enough for a potential buyer to change his mind on the different variants.

So if you were to ask me, I reckon the most powerful VZ variant is a no-brainer.

Jeremy prefers the 188bhp Formentor - it has the nicest balance of performance and refinement.

Julian's point about dollars and sense resonates with me. But my preference for the 190bhp Formentor is not just because it is $31k less expensive than the 306bhp Formentor VZ.

The mid variant 188bhp Formentor is the most compelling model for Jeremy
The most appealing part about the Formentor is that it is the most balanced of the three available variants.

Let's talk ponies first. Having 306bhp and a sexy soundtrack are definitely enticing. What's not enticing, though, is the thought of mainly using that power to sprint from one junction to the next. Besides, just how often can I utilise all that power?

It's the same story with the handling. The Formentor VZ and its adjustable dampers are cool, but the only time I can exploit their potential is in the wee hours, when there are no other cars on the road.

The 188bhp Formentor's 7-second century sprint is still quicker than most cars
There is no sense of unrealised potential in the Formentor though, for its 188bhp is just nice for our roads. It does zero to 100km/h in seven seconds, which is still quicker than most cars. And its handling, while not as tight as the Formentor VZ, is nevertheless tidy. Besides, I also prefer the more pliant ride quality, which makes it easier to live with on a daily basis.

Equipment-wise, the Formentor also comes with most of the safety features that the VZ variant has. These include Lane Assist, full-LED head lights, side assist (blind spot monitoring), Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto.

The 2.0-litre engine is enough for daily driving
Now, while the 188bhp Formentor is less thrilling to drive than the Formentor VZ, the $31k I would save cannot be ignored. That amount could pay for several nice holidays in the future. Then there's the insurance. The VZ would command a higher insurance premium, which I'm not keen on paying.

Within the Formentor range, the 188bhp mid-tier model is really just right, hence making it the most compelling one in my book.

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