In its defence I tugged at the lever, which lives on the passenger side, from behind the wheel, and the angle perhaps caused it to come adrift. Nothing seems broken, and I’ve clipped the lever back on. The bonnet was being opened not to investigate trouble but to access the battery to jump-start another car (a long-dormant Seat Mii, as it happens).
The improving weather will doubtless yield more opportunities to enjoy those 296 horses, which run a lot more willingly if you knock the gearlever rearwards for Sport mode, or paddle the paddles. Using these techniques, it looks highly likely that this Cupra will be able to consume roads at quite some pace. The same may also apply to unleaded, which has improved from the 29mpg or so of the first few miles to more than 33mpg now. But I suspect this figure will take quite a tumble when the throttle dips deep.
Such numbers are easily gleaned from the display tucked between speedo and rev counter, with a combination of a large rocker button and a small rotary drum on the steering wheel enabling you to shuttle between different trip logs as well as the navigation map, your radio station and so on. Details like this provide light entertainment on duller roads, while radar-controlled cruise shares the load of traffic-snarled motorway slogs.
So it’s an easy car to live with, and one whose power is well hidden – although that’s an arrangement not without appeal, the character of the car changing substantially when you work it hard. It’s now due a wash, although at least for now it has an authentically rugged look.
Impressive interface Volkswagen Group infotainment is an object lesson in ergonomic clarity. It makes you wonder how others make such a mess of it.
Tardy transmission DSG auto ’box is often a real impediment to swift progress, taking too long to translate a sunk throttle into action.
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Life with a Cupra Ateca: Month 1
Our new Cupra already has its fans but will we be among them in six months’ time? - 27th February 2019
"Who makes this car?” asked the lad at a hand car wash the other day, the strange copper-coloured badge and ‘Cupra’ lettering across an air intake providing him with insufficient clues. I explained. “Is it the first? Will there be more?”
Yes and yes: the new Cupra Ateca (don’t forget to forget the ‘Seat’) is the first of several that will include a Cupra Leon and, in time, the Formentor - an entire car bespoke to Cupra rather than derivatives of Seats.
Of course, the Cupra name is far from unknown, especially among enthusiasts, who have bought more than 60,000 cars badged thus in 40 countries over two decades. Seat’s broad aim with this brand is to give itself the freedom to develop more specialised and expensive sports models without their price being limited by the value-for-money aura of the parent marque. The relationship is similar to the Fiat and Abarth linkage and the man behind the rebirth of Abarth and birth of Cupra is the same: Seat boss Luca de Meo, formerly a Fiat marketing whizz.