Exclusive: 300bhp SEAT Ateca Cupra SUV in the works

18 May, 2016 9:50am Steve Fowler

SEAT aims to turn up the heat on its SEAT Ateca SUV; new Ateca Cupra likely to star at the 2016 Paris Motor Show

SEAT’S new Ateca SUV is still some months away from showrooms, yet Auto Express can exclusively reveal that plans are already under way for a super-hot Cupra version.

The 300bhp model is likely to be unveiled at October’s Paris Motor Show to gauge public reaction to a hot version of SEAT’s first-ever SUV – and our exclusive images show how it might look.

SEAT’s designers will give the already sporty-looking Ateca a more aggressive feel, with beefier bumpers and sills. They will also lower the ride height to reduce body roll in corners (although our first drive of a standard Ateca revealed that it already feels sportier than many rivals). A different honeycomb grille treatment, LED lighting and racy twin exhaust pipes are also set to feature.

The now familiar bold Cupra colours and styling options will be available, with multi-spoke alloys and contrasting shades that are carried over on to the bodywork.

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Under the bonnet is likely to be a further development of the four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo found in the Leon Cupra, with power boosted to 300bhp. Although the Leon’s power has just been hiked to 286bhp, this newer engine could find its way into SEAT’s hot hatch, too.

The Ateca Cupra is likely to stick with four-wheel drive, which will give it similar specs to the 296bhp Volkswagen Golf R. That car is also built on the VW Group’s lightweight MQB platform. In the Golf, the same engine offers 380Nm of torque, propelling the car from 0-62mph in less than five seconds. And even though the bigger, heavier Ateca will slow things down slightly, we’d still expect it to cover the benchmark sprint in around six seconds.

To up the excitement, the hot Ateca is set to have its own Cupra mode. The touch of a button will stiffen the adaptive dampers, enhance the response of the throttle and 4WD electronics, weight up the steering and give a throatier sound that will be piped through the speakers.

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Inside, the Ateca Cupra is likely to boost SEAT’s strong tech reputation with numerous electronic driver aids, plus class-leading connectivity through a standard eight-inch touchscreen. There will be a host of Cupra touches, such as a flat-bottomed steering wheel, leather, aluminium pedals and splashes of red trim to liven things up. Also, there will be the same decent levels of practicality as in the standard car, with comfortable space for three in the back and a 485-litre boot.

The Ateca arrives in a market packed with talent, ranging from the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar to the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. It also faces competition from within the VW Group, as Volkswagen’s new Tiguan is about to arrive in the UK and a fresh Skoda Yeti will be coming soon, too.

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That’s why bosses are keen to assess the idea of an Ateca Cupra; it will give the model a sportier edge that rivals currently don’t have. However, not everyone at SEAT is convinced compact SUV buyers want sporty models, which is where the potential Paris concept car will have to do its job.

The other issue is price: the most expensive mainstream Ateca weighs in at just under £30,000, but a Cupra version is likely to cost closer to £35,000 – making it SEAT’s most expensive model.

Do you like the idea of a SEAT Ateca Cupra? Let us know in the comments section below...