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Everything that’s good about the Seat Ateca, with added performance and a bit of extra polish, even in prototype form
James Attwood, digital editor
30 September 2018

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.

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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.

What's it like?

The machine we tested was officially still a pre-production version. From where we were sitting (in the aforementioned bucket seat) it all looked rather finished and polished, although Seat claims there’s still some tuning work to do, largely on the software and settings.

Given we rate the Seat Ateca as one of the best family SUVs on the market, you won’t be surprised that adding extra performance and kit enhances the package, making the Cupra Ateca very nice to drive.

On normal roads, in the standard drive modes, it feels much like a Seat Ateca, albeit one with a pleasing punch of extra power when needed. So there’s decent turn-in and positive, direct steering, while the suspension and chassis control settings do a decent job of masking the Ateca’s height and weight.

To prove the Cupra Ateca’s sporting credentials, we were also given the chance to test it on a race circuit. And, should you fancy a few laps after dropping the kids off at school, you’ll be glad to know that the Cupra Ateca is enjoyable on track. It makes brisk progress on straights and is good fun in the bends.

That is, of course, with the physics-based caveat that it’s a high-sided, relatively heavy SUV: it’s prone to understeer if you push to hard, and it’s easy to overwork the brakes if you ask too much of them.

Should I buy one?

Even if you never take a Cupra Ateca onto a circuit – and, let’s face it, you probably won’t – it’s undoubtedly an enjoyable car. But it isn’t a hardcore ‘hot’ version of the Ateca: it’s a more rounded proposition.

It’s recognisably an Ateca, but it has a bit more of everything. Including cost: the Cupra Ateca will be sold in the UK for £35,900, compared to £30,340 for the current top-spec Seat Ateca (the 190bhp 2.0 TDI).

That price fits right into the market gap Seat has identified for the Cupra Ateca: regular family SUVs, but below premium offerings. And, on early evidence, it certainly feels like a compelling, unique option for those seeking a machine that mixes performance kicks with crossover practicality.

Just don’t call it a Seat.

Cupra Ateca specification

Where Spain Price £35,900 On sale Autumn Engine 4 cyls, 1984cc, direct injection, petrol Power 296bhp at 5300-6500rpm Torque 295lb ft at 2000-5200rpm Gearbox 7-speed automatic Kerb weight 1632kg Top speed 153mph 0-62mph 5.2sec Fuel economy TBC CO2 TBC Rivals Audi SQ2, Mercedes-Benz GLC

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Comments
11

1 October 2018
So I may be totally missing the point (you can shoot me down) , but it is a family vehicle, for people with family sized budgets , so its odd that there is no mention of potentially ruinous mpg , if a golf r dsg (and r estate) struggle to get 30mpg what's this going to achieve , 25mpg ? Ouch. Not such a bargain really . Otherwise looks fine and probably drives very well .

1 October 2018
Sundym wrote:

So I may be totally missing the point (you can shoot me down) , but it is a family vehicle, for people with family sized budgets , so its odd that there is no mention of potentially ruinous mpg , if a golf r dsg (and r estate) struggle to get 30mpg what's this going to achieve , 25mpg ? Ouch. Not such a bargain really . Otherwise looks fine and probably drives very well .

My golf r must be broken then, app states 33.8 mpg I am getting - 7.5 golf R estate dsg.

admittedly it got 19.8 mmpg this morning stuck in london traffic (evry bad accident) - but driving in germany at 90 mph + still got 35 mpg.

The new 7 speed dsg is better than the 6 speed dsg - gear 7 is at diesel like 2000 rpm at 70.

1 October 2018
The 189 other people who've put their mpg into real mpg in Honest John get closer to 30mpg and that's with the new 310bhp engine.

1 October 2018

Quite a few on vwroc.com (uk based website) get similar to me - problem with mpg is it depends on the driving.

I wouldn't say 30 mpg is bad for a car that does 0-60 less than 5 seconds and is approx 30k to buy brand new. A run from london to cardiff is easily 40 mpg in the newer one.

30mpg is the old one, newer one - revised April 2017 has 31.9 mpg, and 33.5 mpg per honest John - both dsg - the manual is 28.5 mpg.

1 October 2018

It's a SEAT, for heaven's sake.  An end to this stupid brand-upmanship.

The car-buying public gets what it deserves, unfortunately ...

1 October 2018

An odd way to spend £38,000 or if you prefer, around £23,000 in depreciation over three years. More if the economy stalls (which is cyclically due) or the fashion for tarted up SUVs turns - and if you look at Land Rover sales, that appears to be the current direction.

Of course you could buy it on a PCP-type contract, but that just means you've no grasp of finance at all.

1 October 2018

Endless VAG spiel about "going upmarket" they've more brands than a MF and everytime they release a "derivative of an existing VAG vehicle" what about using skoda and seat as a downmarket "manual window winders" brand etc for a change and remember what the VW company was supposed to represent.

1 October 2018

They've done a really good job with this, I hardly recognised it as an Ateca at all.....

1 October 2018
catnip wrote:

They've done a really good job with this, I hardly recognised it as an Ateca at all.....

I thought it was a Skoda Karoq. Or Kodiac. Or something.

1 October 2018

Don't call it a Seat?  Ok then...   it's a 5 Cupra SUV with two bucket Cupra's in the front. Final specification is still unknown but it's likely electric memory cupras will be a £500 optional extra and heated cupras will be part of a £400 winter pack.

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