Cupra Ateca Review
Hot hatchback performance and family car practicality: the Cupra Ateca is a new kind of crossover
Strengths & weaknesses
- Rapid performance
- Distinctive design additions
- Engaging to drive
- Large price premium over Seat Ateca
- Demand for Ateca brand is unknown
- Interior too much like standard Seat
Stick the right logo on a white t-shirt and you can boost sales, as well as quadrupling the price.
So what happens when you take a badge off one car and replace it with another?
The Spanish car-maker Seat will be keen to find out because it has removed its badge from the high-performance version of its Ateca family car. In its place, you’ll find the pincer-like logo of a new brand: Cupra.
Formerly the name attached to Seat’s sportiest cars, it has now been created as a performance brand in an effort to make the firm’s fast cars appear more exclusive.
And so the Cupra Ateca is based on the standard Seat Ateca, which has been upgraded with large 19in alloy wheels, a digital dashboard and suspension that gives it a sportier feel - along with an engine that can accelerate it from 0-62mph within 0.1 second of a Porsche Boxster.
This Cupra Ateca is quick. Floor the accelerator and you’ll speed away with the four exhaust tips barking behind you.
It’s surprisingly agile in corners too, with sharp changes of direction and plenty of grip that make it fun to drive, despite the height and weight.
If you need a family-friendly car, and want a high driving position, but would really prefer a sports car, then this could be the ideal compromise.
The Ateca is a crossover that takes the mechanical parts from the Seat Leon hatchback and uses them in a taller design that provides a higher driving position and a little more interior space.
But the changes made to the Cupra version make quite a difference. Sport suspension gives a firmer, bumpier ride, but enables the car to turn more sharply, and with less leaning. Gearshifts are quicker and the car sounds much sportier too.
The car’s height means that it’s not quite as nimble as a hot hatchback, such as a Volkswagen Golf R (which shares its engine with the Cupra), a Honda Civic Type R or Hyundai i30 N, but it’s not far away.
Until Volkswagen’s T-Roc R and Audi’s SQ2 arrive, it’s in a class of its own, at a price of just over £35,000 from new (the standard Seat Ateca starts at around £22,000). Other high performance alternatives, such as the Porsche Macan and Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 are considerably more expensive.
Inside, the Cupra is much the same as the Seat Ateca, apart from the upgraded equipment. It does mean that the interior looks bland next to the luxurious design of higher-end, and more expensive German cars, but there’s enough space in the back for adults and a reasonable 510 litres of space in the boot.
Different driving modes allow you to choose a quieter exhaust note, slower gearshifts and reduced power when you press the accelerator gently for a smoother school run.
Seat’s new designer brand might not be cheap, but it certainly ticks several boxes for performance enthusiasts who need practicality.
|Warranty||3 years / 60,000|
|Boot size||485 litres|
|Tax||£515 in first year, £140 to £450 thereafter|
Best Cupra Ateca for...
Best for Families – Cupra Ateca Comfort and Sound
Add the comfort and sound kit for an electric boot lid that’s useful when your hands are full, along with adaptive cruise control that will accelerate and brake to keep a safe distance from the car in front.
Best for Performance – Cupra Ateca Design
Brembo brakes bring improved stopping performance. 19in copper alloy wheels also make the car stand out from the regular Seat Ateca.
- October 2018 Cupra Ateca goes on sale
- November 2019 Ateca Special Edition with upgraded exhaust, rear spoiler and blue Alcantara (suede-effect) interior due to go on sale
Understanding Cupra Ateca names
Engine 2.0 TSI
The engine size is shown in litres (every Cupra Ateca has a 2-litre engine) and the letters TSI indicate that it’s petrol-powered.
DSG is Cupra’s label for its automatic gearbox.
Cupra Ateca Engines
There’s just one engine available with the Cupra Ateca, a standard 2-litre petrol engine with 300 horsepower.
It's taken from the high performance Volkswagen Golf R hot hatchback, so performance is similar. The Cupra Ateca accelerates from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds with a rasping sound, thanks to its sports exhausts.
As it’s designed as a performance car, the fuel economy isn’t the priority, but the official figure of 34mpg isn’t bad for a car of this type. Carbon dioxide emissions of 168g/km will make company car tax expensive, though.
Cupra Ateca Trims
At the moment, every Cupra Ateca comes with a standard specification, which can be added to in the form of option packs.
All cars are distinctive, thanks to large 19in alloy wheels, bright LED headlights, tinted rear windows and four exhaust tips.
A second screen behind the wheel shows the car’s speed and extra, configurable information, such as sat-nav directions. There are also front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera, keyless entry and start, plus automatic headlights and windscreen wipers.
Door mirrors contain lights that project the Cupra symbol onto the ground when the doors are open - a gimmick, but eye-catching.
The Comfort and Sound pack (£1,930) adds a motorised bootlid tailgate and more safety features (traffic sign recognition, lane assist, high beam assist), as well as heated front seats and a Beats audio system.
The Design pack (£3,345) adds striking 19-inch copper-coloured wheels, uprated Brembo brakes and black interior styling features.
Alternatively, buyers can choose the Cupra Ateca with both packs, which would push the price over £40,000, incurring an additional £310 a year in car tax for five years - even if you can find a new car discount.
At the end of the year, a Special Edition model will go on sale, with an upgraded, lighter Akrapovic exhaust, rear spoiler over the back screen and even-larger 20in wheels. Seats will be covered in blue Alcantara.
Cupra Ateca Reliability and warranty
The standard Seat Ateca fares well in the most recent Auto Express Driver Power survey, coming in at a very respectable 37th place, which is promising for this sportier version. As a brand, Seat sits in mid-table on the list of manufacturers, in 14th place.
The warranty of three years and 60,000 miles is standard without being exceptional.
Used Cupra Ateca
The Cupra Ateca has just gone on sale in the UK, at the time of writing, so it's too early for used examples to show up on the market – especially as this will be very much a niche model, so sales won’t be huge.