What is it?
Right, let’s be clear about this. The SUV you see here is the Cupra Ateca and not, you must understand, the Seat Ateca Cupra. That might sound like a minor spot of nomenclature, but understanding the difference between Cupra as a Seat performance badge and Cupra as a Seat sub-brand is key to understanding the aims of this definitely-not-a-Seat Ateca.
While Cupra-badged Seat models were all about performance, the Cupra sub-brand has a slightly different brief, mixing performance with ‘uniqueness and sophistication’. The idea is that Cupra-branded models will appeal to a slightly more affluent audience, willing to pay higher margins.
That’s why the first Cupra model is an Ateca and not, say, a Cupra Ibiza. Seat believes there are bigger margins to be had making a high performance family SUV than a hot hatch. And Seat also believes there’s a fairly sizeable gap in the market for a Cupra Ateca, above the likes of family SUVs such as the Hyundai Tucson, Peugeot 3008 and, yes, Seat Ateca, and below premium sporting models such as the Audi SQ2 and BMW X3M.
So how do you turn a Seat Ateca into a Cupra Ateca? Well, there’s a new ‘tribal’ Cupra logo, which entirely replaces the Seat badges. There’s also a new grille design and rear bumper, some glossy black details, quad exhaust details on the rear diffuser and 19inch diamond cut allow wheels. Inside, there are more Cupra logos, Alcantara-covered seats, a leather steering wheel and gear stick, and aluminium pedals and other features.
More substantially, the Cupra Ateca features the VW Group’s EA888 2.0 TSI engine, in this case tuned for 296bhp and 295lb ft of torque, propelling the 1632kg SUV from 0-62mph in 5.2secs on its way to a top speed of 153mph. There’s a seven-speed DSG auto ‘box and variable four-wheel-drive, while work has been done to the Ateca’s adaptive suspension settings.
There’s also been considerable tuning of the Ateca’s software, including a new Cupra drive mode. Our test machine also featured the optional Performance Pack, which among other tweaks includes 18in Brembo brake and bucket seats. Yes, bucket seats in an SUV.