Cupra starts its new role as a separate division with reworked SUV; hot Ibiza and Arona models set to follow
6 March 2018

Seat’s new stand-alone performance brand, Cupra, has shown its 296bhp all-wheel-drive version of the Ateca – the first model to be launched since Seat confirmed its hot sub-brand’s new role last month.

The car, on show in Geneva, is part of a broader offensive to offer Cupra versions of some Seat models as well as, eventually, Cupra-only cars. Seat is trying to copy the example of in-house performance divisions like Renault Sport. It will launch seven models by 2020 as part of aggressive growth plans.

Cupra could get electrified powertrain tech before Seat

While the initial models will be reworked versions of current Seat machines, with Cupra Ibiza and Arona models likely in 2019, the firm hinted that it could introduce standalone Cupra models in the future, as part of plans to use the brand as a technological figurehead.

Q&A: Seat boss Luca de Meo on Cupra's future

The brand's sales and marketing boss Wayne Griffiths said that splitting from Seat was important for brand value. "In terms of positioning it adds more to go with a separate brand," he said. "If we kept it in the Seat world there would always be compromises. We want to take it out of the Seat world to the race track. Most firms that have sporting brands take them out of heritage, like Abarth. But we want to look to the future

Opinion: Why Cupra split from Seat

Cupra models will be based on Seats – for the foreseeable future, at least – but with significantly higher performance, more customisation options and a separate sales channel. Only about one-fifth of Seat’s dealer network will be awarded Cupra sub-franchises and models are set to be sold by specialists from Cupra-only areas.

The Cupra plan according to R&D boss Matthias Rabe

Autocar first reported on the plans last year, when a draft of the new logo was shown in trademark filings. Seat boss Luca de Meo later admitted that Cupra would “add another dimension” to Seat’s appeal.

“Cupra emerged not just as a business discussion," he said. "This is a declaration of love for motoring, in a society becoming a bit unfriendly to the sector.”

The Cupra Ateca, on sale in the autumn, is powered by a 296bhp version of the Volkswagen Group’s EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged engine although the torque peak of 295lb ft is higher than that produced by the similar engine in the Leon Cupra 300. Drive passes through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox – there are no plans for a manual version – with torque diverted rearwards when required by a part-time Haldex all-wheel drive system. Cupra claims a 5.4sec 0-62mph time and a 150mph top speed.

Cupra Ibiza concept revealed

Although its components are almost all familiar from other members of the VW Group’s vast MQB-platform family, the Cupra Ateca is said to have been tuned to offer a substantially different driving experience from its Seat sibling.

The suspension height has changed only fractionally, with the Cupra sitting 20mm lower than the regular car, but spring rates have been substantially revised and suspension settings are far firmer. Adaptive dampers will be standard, allowing for a far more aggressive set-up when using the ‘Cupra’ setting, which has been added to the Ateca’s switchable driving modes.

Cupra sub-brand could get latest powertrain tech before Seat

The Cupra has also ditched the electronic sound symposer that normally augments engine noise in rortier MQB models. Standard brake discs will be 17in, but 18in Brembo units will be offered as an option.

Although badges have been changed from the Seat ‘S’ to Cupra’s new triangular logo, the exterior design builds on that of the regular Ateca rather than transforming it. Bumpers are bulkier and there is a small wing at the top of the tailgate.

The Cupra gets 19in diamond-cut alloy wheels as standard plus the option of several unique colours. There will also be external and internal carbonfibre trim packages. The interior uses lots of Alcantara and incorporates plenty of copper details – Cupra’s new corporate colour, a move away from the brasher orange with which the name was formerly associated. Other Cupra models will follow hard on the heels of this Ateca, with design concepts for Cupra versions of the Ibiza and Arona shown alongside it at the official launch. The company line is that these are to gauge reaction rather than indicate production intent and Seat’s R&D boss, Matthias Rabe, has indicated that the Leon will be the next production version.

Rabe also confirmed that Cupra’s birth as a brand will make it easier to produce limited-run models and higher performance variants in the manner of the Leon Cupra R. No new diesel Cupras are expected, but there will be Cupras that use forthcoming mild-hybrid powertrains.

Rabe said it’s possible there will ultimately be a Cupra-only halo model, but there are no immediate plans for one. “In the first years, you will have derivatives,” he said. “If you are talking about a very special car only for Cupra, I could imagine a sports car or a spider or something like that but, to be honest, we don’t have that on the plan. It could be an aspiration for the longer term.” Seat sold fewer than 10,000 Cupra models last year and the aim is for the stand-alone Cupra brand to double those volumes within five years – a modest ambition given what will soon be a multi-model line-up.

At the Cupra launch event, a new Seat Leon Cupra R ST estate was shown (below). The all-wheel-drive machine is powered by a 2.0-litre 296bhp RSI engine, and sits alongside the existing Seat Leon Cupra R. For consistency, both models will retain Seat branding, although from now on they will feature a copper Seat logo and other special trim.

Cupra to make motorsport debut with TCR

Cupra has confirmed the Cupra TCR will be the first motorsport machine under its new brand remit. Heavily based on the 2017 Seat Leon TCR from last season, it will run in the new FIA World Touring Car Cup as well as in national-level TCR series.

Read more 

Q&A: Seat boss Luca de Meo on Cupra's future

Cupra could get electrified powertrain tech before Seat

Seat Leon review

Seat Tarraco leaked images show new seven-seater design

Our Verdict

Seat Ateca

Seat's first attempt at building an SUV is a cracker and knocked the Nissan Qashqai off its perch in the process, so we discover what makes the Ateca our class leader

Join the debate


22 February 2018

Seems we all need a sporty SUV these Days, but why?

Peter Cavellini.

22 February 2018
Peter Cavellini wrote:

Seems we all need a sporty SUV these Days, but why?

What? A sporty sport utility vehicle?

Where has all Japanese design went to?


22 February 2018

Real bronze plastic. We've just got used to silver plastic. Exhausts dont align with bodywork very well. Bu that aside I like the idea (even though it'll drive worse than the Leon). Its sure to make Jags 300 E pace look stupid money. 

22 February 2018

The standard Ateca is an okay looking car - this however I feel looks tacky some what. I don’t like the new logo I think it’s looks after market, the whole design looks a bit after market modifications made. No doubt it will be expensive as well - surely a Leon ST Cupra is better practically as well?? 

22 February 2018

Disturbingly horrible, both as an idea and to behold.  


I really can't imagine having to review it.


At least it doesn't have an Electronic Sound Symposer - the automotive version of a blow up doll.

23 February 2018

..with one fifth of the dealer network, if your dealership got the francise then along with the service work that'll be a deal even Mike Brewer would be delighted with.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

23 February 2018

Nothing approaching BMC's in the late 50s/60s but... Another tragic attempt to create a 'brand'. At least attaching it to the front of a model name makes it read/sound less like Cooper. But the badge itself looks even worse in copper - somehow the stylised Cs are even less clear. And from a distance it reminds me a bit of Pontiac's badge now. Now there was a performance brand...  

25 February 2018

The logo looks like a question mark and an "S", raising the thought "why SEAT", to which the reply is if they think that fat-arsed Ateca lump of shit is representative of performance, no reason at all.  If they think they can pass that heap off as sporty, they'd probably reckon that Andy Fordham looks like a typical Olympic sprinter.  Clearly they designed the horror in the expection that there is a market for tacky, and are hoping that they won't go broke by underestimating the taste of the public.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left


26 February 2018

Cupra starts its new role as a separate division with reworked SUV.

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