The Spanish company turned its performance division into a separate brand this year, targeted at premium buyers who want sporty machines. The first Cupra-badged model will be a re-engineered high performance version of the Seat Ateca SUV, and company chiefs are aiming to rapidly develop a full line-up of models.
Talking about the decision to launch the Cupra range with a reworked Seat, design chief Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos said: “At the start of a brand, you need to go in stages. When we decided to start Cupra,you could wait until you have a car born 100% as a Cupra, or you can start the brand going in steps. This is what we have done with Cupra Ateca. It’s the first step of where we are going.
“You will see the first car that was 100% designed as a Cupra next year.”
He wouldn’t comment on what form the car would take but, at the Cupra brand launch, the firm showed a sketch of a sleek coupé crossover concept. Such a machine would fit into the brand’s ‘lifestyle performance’ positioning and, as with the Cupra Ateca, would target a segment with relatively few rivals in.
Seat Ateca review
Mesonero-Romanos said the new model, due on sale in 2020, is being developed purely for Cupra by dedicated designers and engineers. He added: “It has been thought from the beginning with the DNA of Cupra. That doesn’t mean Cupra Ateca is not a Cupra. But for my team, and the engineers, the next car was born with 100% Cupra philosophy. It’s a Cupra. It will have its own identity.”
For example, the new model is likely to have a distinct Cupra grille that will better fit the brand logo. Mesonero-Romanos said “there could be Seat versions” of the car in the future, but added that ensuring it will fit in Seat’s line-up isn’t a consideration during development. He said: “The focus is on developing it as a Cupra.”
Future Cupra models being considered include performance versions of the Seat Ibiza and Seat Arona. While the Ibiza might seem a more natural choice, the competitiveness of the hot hatchback market and greater margins possible with a crossover could make the Arona a more attractive proposition.