Spanish VW subsidiary Cupra transplanted 7000 Audi RS3 engines into Formentor medium SUVs – but the brand’s CEO has re-affirmed none will come to Australia.
Don’t hold your breath to see the five-cylinder 2022 Cupra Formentor VZ5 performance SUV in Australia, as the 7000 cars built for left-hand-drive markets won’t be followed by a right-hook production run.
Revealed last year, the Formentor VZ5 swaps the 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder heart of the Audi RS3, RS Q3 and TT RS into Cupra’s brand-unique medium SUV – the first Volkswagen Group car with Audi’s iconic five-cylinder engine, without an Audi badge.
But only 7000 examples will be built, for left-hand-drive markets only – and Cupra boss Wayne Griffiths has confirmed there are no plans to change that, due to a limit on the number of engines Cupra could source from Audi.
“When we did the project a couple of years ago, we were limited with the period the [five-cylinder] engine would still run up to Euro 7 [emissions regulations, due around 2025],” Griffiths told Australian media this week, when asked about plans for a right-hand-drive VZ5.
“And with the available production, because there’s quite a lot of manufacturing involved in the production of the engine – which comes from Audi –we were able to secure a volume of 7000 units in total, which was also good news and bad news.
“So the bad news, okay, you could use them all; the good news is that when you have 7000, then it’s gonna be quite desirable.
“And those 7000 were only enough for for the left-hand-drive markets, so we made a conscious decision back then of only developing the car for left-hand drive.
“You would have had to have a lot more volume if we’d have gone to right-hand drive because the UK market is huge for us. And we would have had a totally different volume scenario that we couldn’t fulfill with the existing facilities. It’s purely supply driven,” Griffiths concluded.
Griffiths’ mention of Euro 7 regulations as a milestone for the 2.5-litre Audi engine suggests the five-cylinder motor may not meet the stringent new regulations after all – or, at least, will require significant modifications that would affect its outputs and installation in a car.
Executives told Australian media in 2019 the five-cylinder would be re-engineered to meet the new emissions regulations – and there’s been no update since then, as Euro 7 draws closer.
Audi is slated to introduce the new-generation RS3 in Australia imminently – a car that’s set to become the last new Audi with the famed five-cylinder engine, expected to survive until the next A3 range launches overseas around 2028, as a fully-electric vehicle.
The other Audi models with the engine are set to be replaced before then: the TT RS sports car in 2023 or 2024 (when the current car is axed, with no replacement), and the RS Q3 small SUV, closer to 2025.
The Cupra Formentor VZ5’s version of the Hungary-built 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine develops 287kW and 480Nm – 7kW down on the RS Q3’s version, ensuring Audi’s higher place in the VW Group hierarchy.
It’s capable of a 4.2-second 0-100km/h time – more than half a second quicker than Australia’s most powerful Formentor, the 228kW/400Nm four-cylinder VZx – backed by six-piston Akebono brakes and bespoke sports suspension.
The four-cylinder 2022 Cupra Formentor range is available to order in Australia now, priced from $54,990 drive-away for the entry-level, front-wheel-drive V model grade.
Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.