The difference between a Cupra Ateca and a Seat Ateca Cupra might sound pedantic – but it’s all about brand positioning.

Cupra confirmed as standalone performance sub-brand of Seat

Seat has always been positioned as the Volkswagen Group’s ‘youth’ brand. In the past, that has involved a focus on sportiness, with its Cupra models serving as halo products. But with the ‘smartphone generation’ more interesting in technology and style, Seat’s growth in recent years has been fuelled by broadening its appeal through SUVs and a focus on cool, ‘urban’ design. 

So creating a stand-alone Cupra brand enables Seat Sport to develop hot machines that don’t fit the main firm’s new focus, but will still appeal to a core and passionate audience, and allow the wider Seat brand to become more focused on its new direction – without losing the benefit of having a credible performance arm.

The interest is in the decision to present such cars as Cupra machines, without Seat branding – similar to what Fiat has done with Abarth, or Volvo has done with Polestar – and a step beyond performance arms such as Mercedes-AMG and Audi Sport. That could help Cupra build a greater cult following – but only if the hard work is done to ensure it builds its own identity.