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Cupra, Seat's performance division, has taken a step away from the mothership to become its own, and its first fast car for the road is based on the Ateca SUV.

12 Mar 2020


Here's an important announcement. Soon, all of Seat's fast cars will be called Cupra, which is the Spanish carmaker's performance subdivision. There will be a line of cars developed exclusively by Cupra in the future, like the Formentor performance crossover.

But for now, what should've been called the Seat Ateca Cupra, it is just Cupra Ateca. As for the next Seat Leon Cupra, it will be known as the Cupra Leon.

Cupra.. Ateca… Cuprateca?

The new badge is a great conversation starter and the Cupra Ateca is the first road car to have it here
With that said, the Cupra Ateca isn't that far off in looks when compared to, say, a highly specified Seat Ateca.

Most will only spot the copper coloured Cupra badge and the Quattro-esque Cupra naming on the bottom grille.

Since Seats aren't that common on our roads, you'll get curious onlookers who don't know what this car really is. Needless to mention, the Cupra nomenclature further adds to the confusion.

Elsewhere, the Cupra additions follow function and form. There's additional ducting on the front bumper's lower lip to feed air to the auxiliary coolers for the gearbox and engine. There are bigger 19-inch wheels to fit larger 340mm brake rotors. Ending it all off are the quad tailpipes at the rear, which aren't fake, of course.

Familiar space

The Cupra Ateca offers a well-built interior that's thoughtful and practical
The small Cupra touches continue inside, like copper coloured stitching on the steering wheel and additional Cupra badges all around, but this is all too familiar, and all too Seat Ateca.

However, this familiarity lies a space that is easy to use and is packed with features. Important buttons and switches are within easy reach, saving you the trouble of diving through menus. The 8.0-inch infotainment system is fluid and straightforward to use, and comes with connectivity features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, too.

The Cupra Ateca also gets its own 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster. There's some level of customisability from how you want your dials to look, to displaying various driving information like oil temperatures and fuel consumption figures.

Rear seats offer plenty of space to fit two or three adults rather comfortably
Passengers should have nothing to complain about, with a rear bench that offers more than enough head and legroom for tall adults.

Boot space is also reasonable at 485 litres, despite having a four-wheel drive system underneath.

It is a Cupra, so it should be fast?

So if the small details aren't enough, the main difference with the Cupra is brute force.

Powering all four wheels is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 296bhp and 400Nm of torque. Power figures are even higher than Seat's current halo hot hatchback, the Leon Cupra.

The familiar turbocharged 2.0-litre powerplant can be found in most of the Group's fast cars, and here it makes 296bhp and a hearty 400Nm of torque
But all that power isn't apparent. Driving normally, you'd just assume it to be your humble, run-of-the-mill SUV. It doesn't even sound as boisterous as the large quad exhausts might suggest.

Switching to its most potent Cupra mode doesn't immediately change things either. Floor the pedal, though, and it shows its abilities like a provoked bull.

Shouts in Spanish

The exhaust pops into life, and the Cupra will reach 100km/h from standstill in 5.2 seconds. After some spirited runs, the Cupra even lets out a deep exhaust overrun. Power doesn't seem to taper off either, with the engine delivering all 400Nm from 2,000rpm all the way to 5,300rpm, with peak horsepower taking over till redline.

The dampers firm up and steering feels more weighted in Cupra mode, offering a more dynamic experience behind the wheel
For an SUV, it turns well. Cornering hard, you do feel the Ateca's heft on the outer wheels and the tyres will protest, but the Cupra never feels out of line, even with all the electric nannies turned off.

When you've scared yourself enough with its performance abilities, it'll transform back to its calm and composed self - one that you can live with every day. But when needed, it'll snarl, shout and sprint hurriedly like a hot hatchback. It's nothing short of impressive.

Cupra to get?

There is a lot of things to like about the Seat.. I mean Cupra Ateca. It is understated, practical, feature-rich and fast enough to shock unsuspecting hot hatches.

The Cupra Ateca is quick and boisterous when driven hard, but yet it looks calm and understated
Rein in the competition, then. The MINI John Cooper Works Countryman is a crossover that's flashy, fast and instantly recognisable, but it commands a premium of $40,889 more (as of 11 March 2020) than the Cupra. That's a lot of money.

At $179,999, the Cupra Ateca isn't chump change. But its impressive breadth of abilities makes this the fast SUV that's liveable every day. And if curious onlookers at traffic lights are figuring out what kind of car it is, you'd be leaving them behind when the lights turn green. Honestly, that's all everyone needs to know about the Cupra.
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Car Information

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CUPRA Ateca 2.0 TSI DSG (A)
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Price

: $177,999

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1984cc

Horsepower

:

221kW (296 bhp) / 6500 rpm

Torque

:

400 Nm / 5200 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) DSG

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

5.2sec

Top Speed

:

247km/h

Fuel consumption

:

13.5 km/L

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