Spy shots

Hot Cupra Formentor spied testing – with a five-cylinder warble

Is Cupra about to get hold of Audi’s brilliant five-cylinder petrol engine?

Cupra’s stunted growth after its ambitious launch is now being put behind it, with the brand poised to release its first bespoke model, the Formentor coupe SUV, as well as a new range of high-performance Leons. It has also been confirmed that SEAT’s El-born electric car will become a Cupra, but at the same time the fledgling marque has been spotted testing a model with a less electrified heart. 

Rumours have been persisting of a higher-level performance range from Cupra, and this Formentor prototype spotted lapping the Nürburgring might just be the start of it, with tell-tale signs suggesting there’s a more intense powertrain underneath its crossover body.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

The most significant clue is in the accompanying video, where the sound emanating from the prototype’s four exhaust outlets can clearly be distinguished as a five-cylinder warble, not the more prosaic note of the four-cylinder EA888 found in the current hottest Formentor. Audi, which is part of the same VW Group as Cupra, is just about the only manufacturer still making a five-cylinder engine in 2020, and the Formentor is based on the same MQB component set as the RS3 and RS Q3, so it’s not difficult to deduce what’s under the Cupra’s bonnet. 

In the current RS Q3, the 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine produces 394bhp, which is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch ’box. While it’s impossible to know at this stage how much power a five-cylinder Formentor would produce in a production form, the complexities of emissions regulations and the work Audi Sport has already done to certify this powertrain should allude to a similar figure for the Cupra. 

The current Formentor flagship is powered by a 306bhp four-cylinder, which when augmented by the approved dealer-fit Abt kit rises to 345bhp, so it also makes little sense for Cupra to launch a five-cylinder version to sit above this unless it has close to the RS Q3’s 394bhp figure.

The rest of the package will no doubt be upgraded to accommodate the extra performance and weight associated with the five-cylinder engine. On this prototype we can see upsized brakes with the trademark copper finish to the Cupra-branded calipers. There’s also a big wheel and tyre package.

While this powertrain is certainly exciting news for any Cupra fan, we can’t help but wonder what the same engine would do in the lighter, smaller Leon – perhaps with a bit of further weight shedding and maybe even the revival of a Sub8-style special edition. Now that would be an exciting and dramatic statement from a new brand keen to ingratiate itself within the hearts and minds of performance car types.

Recommended

Cupra Leon hatchback pricing revealed – 296bhp Leon TSI 300 priced at £35,000
Cupra

Cupra Leon hatchback pricing revealed – 296bhp Leon TSI 300 priced at £35,000

11 Nov 2020
2020 Cupra Formentor priced from £39,830
Cupra

2020 Cupra Formentor priced from £39,830

20 Oct 2020
Cupra Leon eHybrid 2020 review – are hybrids and hot hatchbacks still mutually exclusive?
Cupra

Cupra Leon eHybrid 2020 review – are hybrids and hot hatchbacks still mutually exclusive?

16 Oct 2020
Porter seeks enlightenment on one of the most mystifying issues in motoring
Cupra

Porter seeks enlightenment on one of the most mystifying issues in motoring

18 Aug 2020

Most Popular

Ariel Atom 4 review - Britain's exoskeletal track toy just got torquier...
Ariel Atom

Ariel Atom 4 review - Britain's exoskeletal track toy just got torquier...

Its looks may suggest otherwise, but this latest Atom is all‑new – and a huge leap forward, too
5 Nov 2020
G-Power G5M Hurricane RR takes BMW M5 to 888bhp
BMW M5 saloon

G-Power G5M Hurricane RR takes BMW M5 to 888bhp

German tuner G-Power reveals its new ultimate version of the F90 BMW M5
6 Nov 2020
Porsche unveils 911 Turbo S to match your £8m Embraer business jet
Porsche 911 Turbo

Porsche unveils 911 Turbo S to match your £8m Embraer business jet

The Porsche 911 Turbo S has been given the Exclusive Manufaktur treatment, this time, in collaboration with Embraer
6 Nov 2020
2021 Land Rover Discovery 5 updated with fresh tech and engines
Land Rover Discovery

2021 Land Rover Discovery 5 updated with fresh tech and engines

Updated Discovery receives latest JLR engines and re-emphasises its family focus
10 Nov 2020