Cars

Audi vs. Cupra – Two 2.5-liter fives: who is better?

Bang! The DSG of the Formentor brutally thrashes the aisles in the launch program. It works like this: Insert Cupra mode with the steering wheel button, ESP off, step on the brakes, full throttle.
When the revs level off at around 3800 revs, foot off the brake and the car shoots forward, accompanied by a five-cylinder sound that sounds a lot like the World Rally Championship. Technology donor Audi RS Q3 can do that too, via the RS magic button and dynamic mode. And then the Audi roars up to 7000 tours.
Cupra Formentor VZ5 Audi RS Q3

The same engine, the same gearbox, the same mufflers – Audi and Cupra still have some differences.


This engine is worth a special mention, as it is central to the fascination of these unequal brothers. 390 hp in the Cupra, 400 hp in the Audi – Hannu Mikkola had less power available during his victories in 1983. The five-wheeler, which was switched from cast iron to aluminum in 2015, sounds slightly bumpy between 2000 and 3000 rpm.

Audi more willing to compromise

The firing order 1-2-4-5-3 says it all: Sometimes two cylinders close together fire, sometimes far apart. The result is a pulsating sound with a smoky heavy drinker timbre, somewhere between Joe Cocker and Lemmy Kilmister in their heyday. And the sounds don’t come from sound generators, they’re real!

Cupra Formentor VZ5 Audi RS Q3

The fascination of these two SUVs lies in five cylinders.


Even the acceleration test shows that the Audi is more willing to compromise, the gear changes seem smoother, less brutal than the Cupra. Its standard torque splitter also locks the rear axle mechanically. It rattles slightly from behind and the rear wheels bite into the asphalt. However, the system is heat-sensitive and occasionally requires cooling breaks.

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250 km/h (optional 280 km/h)

Seven-speed double clutch

Continental SportContact 6 (AO1)

Seven-speed double clutch

Goodyear Eagle F1 Super Sport


Only the Spaniard has the torque splitter. A supplier part from Magna, which replaces the SUV-usual four-wheel drive clutch in front of the rear axle differential with two transversely placed multi-plate clutches, one in front of each side shaft. Advantage: Now, electronically controlled, each rear wheel can be given individual power.

Drifting eats up time

It also allows for fun things like Drift mode, which, in a reversal of the usual method, allocates more power to the outside wheel. In the case of the front-wheel drive-based Cupra, it is not the front that pushes, but the rear to the outside of the curve.

Cupra Formentor VZ5 Audi RS Q3

The RS Q3 brake (right) is up to the power, the Cupra is braked by snappy six-piston brakes from Akebono with 375 discs.


It is above all this component that makes the Formentor VZ5 stand out on the hairpin bends of the Contidrom handling course. Here the Audi slows down its tendency to understeer as well as the safety-oriented residual function of its ESP, which drives the transmission into parade when accelerating out of a tight corner, which first has to sort itself out and then literally starves the driver in too high a gear.

Which likes to cost a full second. Of course, the RS Q3 remains an absurdly fast car with a high level of grip. However, that costs fun, while the Formentor happily lets the rear come. If you want to be really fast with the Spaniard (built in Martorell), you should say goodbye to drift mode – drifting eats up time.

Cupra Formentor VZ5 Audi RS Q3

Both are unreasonable – but the Cupra is more consistent.


In the Cupra program, the torque splitter now reduces torque on the rear wheel on the outside of the curve, which literally carries the Spaniard through the curve, neutral to slightly oversteering.

Both can everyday

Even as the 400 hp RS Q3, the Audi remains an SUV: higher center of gravity, the driver sits high and not exactly in the center of g-forces, the seats offer less support in the shoulder area. But what makes it a pleasant everyday car, despite the somewhat idiosyncratic accelerator pedal characteristics and the slightly jerky transmission.

As different as the two are: They can do everyday things, the remaining comfort of the spring-damper setup is acceptable.

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1. Cupra Formentor VZ5: 296 points

Trackday-suitable athlete with superior all-wheel drive technology. At a lower price, that ensures victory here.

2. Audi RS Q3: 286 points

Inferior on the circuit, superior in everyday life. But it’s difficult to justify the 10,000 euro price difference.

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