What is it?
The arrival of the Cupra Ateca marks a significant moment for the Spanish arm of the VW Group as it delivers on a promise to promote Cupra from its position on the sidelines, as Seat’s performance division, to the more prominent role of standalone brand.
Cupra was first introduced in the mid-1990s and has since become synonymous with go-faster Seats, but from this moment on it will be recognised as a car maker in its own right. It isn’t just about performance; individuality and sophistication will also be core attributes, apparently.
At least, that is the ambition. Its first model is a 296bhp version of Seat’s SUV with uprated suspension and styling revisions. The new Cupra models will be built alongside their Seat counterparts at the Martorell factory on the outskirts of Barcelona and they will be sold through selected Seat dealerships, albeit by dedicated staff.
As is the way with the VW Group the Cupra Ateca is less a ground-up engineering exercise and more a cherry-picking one, for it plucks from the enormous VW Group toolkit every item of hardware that’s needed to turn a family SUV into a sporting one. The 2-litre turbo engine, seven-speed DSG gearbox, Haldex four-wheel drive system, MQB architecture and plenty more besides are all shared with other Seats, VWs, Skodas and Audis. Cupra is the first brand in the group to bring all of those bits and pieces together to build a fast SUV, but no individual element is in any way unique to the Ateca.