In February, Seat announced that Cupra (originally a trim grade for sportier vehicles) would become a standalone brand. It was a bewildering move for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, leaving Seat without any halo models raises an obvious question: what’s the point of Seat now? Certainly, any ambitions to be regarded as a Spanish equivalent of Alfa Romeo seem to have been entirely abandoned. There’s a very real risk that future car buyers could look elsewhere because Seat is perceived as either anonymous or non-aspirational.
Secondly, establishing a separate marque is going to take time and a concerted marketing effort. Most non-enthusiasts have probably never heard of Cupra. To make matters worse, they’ll only be confused by the ‘Seat but not a Seat’ situation (assuming that there’s not total disinterest, of course).
Selecting the Ateca compact crossover to be Cupra’s first production offering is, at first glance, further evidence of a puzzling strategy. Launching a hot hatch based on either the Ibiza or Leon might have been a more prudent move. However, the Ateca represents a growing market segment, so perhaps such a decision was actually quite clever.
Unique bumpers, LED headlights, a honeycomb grille, 19” diamond-cut alloy wheels and four exhaust pipes identify the Cupra Ateca. Inside, the specification includes front sports seats, Alcantara upholstery, an 8” infotainment touchscreen and a bespoke TFT cockpit display.
While looking the part is important for showroom appeal, decent performance is a key prerequisite too. Fortunately, the latter hasn’t been forgotten.
A 2.0 litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine produces an impressive 295 bhp (221 kW / 300 PS) plus 400 Nm (295 lb/ft) of peak torque. That output is delivered to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Consequently, the 0-62 mph (100 km/h) sprint takes just 5.2 seconds and a 153 mph (246 km/h) top speed is possible. 38.2 mpg (7.4 l/100km) and CO2 emissions of 168 g/km (according to the NEDC combined measure) suggest fairly poor efficiency, though.
On-the-road prices for the Cupra Ateca start at £35,900, with deliveries expected to commence during the first quarter of 2019. The £3,345 Design and £1,930 Comfort and Sound packages are among the available cost options.
In the UK, twenty-five Seat dealers have been appointed to handle Cupra sales.