This week, we turn to a question that fans of a certain popular line of affordable European performance cars might well have been waiting for an answer to since March 2018.
Exactly what might we get from a Cupra ‘Seat’ that we haven’t so far been given by one of the many Seat Cupra hot hatchbacks that the Spanish firm has brought to market since the very first, the 148bhp Seat Ibiza GTI Cupra Sport of 1996?
The newly independent Cupra performance brand, announced at the Geneva motor show last March, has finally borne fruit in order to begin addressing that question. And, rather intriguingly, the Cupra Ateca performance crossover SUV is the car with which the brand has chosen to introduce us to its new, founding values.
Those values are “performance, drivability, usability and sophistication,” as defined by Cupra’s own claims – an interesting combination that suggests Seat will no longer be in pursuit of cars with Ford RS, Renault Sport Cup or Honda Type-R badges but instead be using the performance engineering resources of its motorsport division to offer cars not unlike the GTIs made by its parent company, Volkswagen.
And, as if to underline, capitalise and highlight such a decisive change in tack, Cupra is opening for business with a high-rise, four-wheel-drive, go-faster family car with more power than any of its kind yet to be produced by any car maker outside of the premium-branded sphere. The Cupra Ateca might be a product marketing Venn diagram bullseye.
In principle, it combines the engine, gearbox and driveline of a popular and critically acclaimed hot hatchback (and hot hatchbacks like the VW Golf R are bigger business in Europe now than they have been in some time) with the fashionable, desirable, added-convenience bodystyle of a crossover hatchback.
But in the real world, as executed in this particular case, is that combination as appealing as it may have seemed in theory?
Price £35,900 | Power 296bhp | Torque 295lb ft | 0-60mph 4.9sec | 30-70mph in fourth 8.3sec | Fuel economy 28.9mpg | CO2 emissions 168g/km | 70-0mph 52.4m (damp)