In-depth reviews

Cupra Ateca review

The Cupra Ateca is a talented performance SUV that offers tremendous pace, hot hatch-rivalling handling and loads of kit

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

£36,780 to £44,575
  • Premium feel
  • Sharp handling
  • Strong performance
  • Unfamiliar badge
  • Thirsty
  • Not bespoke enough

Don’t call it a SEAT. The Cupra Ateca is the first car to wear the name of SEAT’s new sporty sub-brand, and it taps into the increasing demand for SUVs with a little more grunt. The straight-line speed is excellent, giving the Cupra hot hatch aspirations, but while it can’t quite rival a hatchback in terms of dynamics and value for money, it’s much more fun to drive than you’d expect. It’s also loaded with standard kit and should offer a high level of exclusivity. You’ll just need to convince your friends that it’s so much more than a standard Ateca with some fancy badges and a bodykit.

When is a SEAT Ateca not a SEAT Ateca? When it’s a Cupra Ateca, of course. The name isn’t new – the badge was previously used for performance versions of the SEAT Ibiza and SEAT Leon – but the Ateca is the first release to wear the sub-brand’s tribal logo.

SEAT has gone to great lengths to remove all traces of the company’s badge from the Cupra Ateca, but the fact remains that this is essentially a repackaged version of the excellent SEAT Ateca SUV. Other bespoke Cupra models will follow in the future, but for now, this is our first taste of the Cupra brand.

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And it’s a good start. Power comes from the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine you’ll find in cars such as the SEAT Leon Cupra, Volkswagen Golf R and Golf GTI, and here it delivers 296bhp and 400Nm of torque. As a result, this SUV with hot hatch aspirations will sprint from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds.

It’s a testament to the work of the engineers and designers that Cupra’s take on the Ateca feels wildly different to that of SEAT’s. And ‘wildly’ is a good choice of word, because the car is thrilling to drive. In fact, we think it’s one of the finest handling cars in its class.

Not that the Cupra Ateca plays in a particularly large playground. The Spaniards reckon the Cupra Ateca is without rivals, and to a certain extent, this is correct. The Skoda Kodiaq vRS is also trying to grab a slice of the performance SUV pie, but the Cupra feels like a budget Porsche Macan or Audi SQ5 in comparison.

It’s not cheap, mind. While a top-spec SEAT Ateca will set you back around £34,000, Cupra prices start at £36,000, increasing to as much as £41,000 when both the available options boxes have been ticked.

That’s still cheaper than an entry-level Macan, however, and Cupra hasn’t skimped on the standard specification. Every car comes with 19-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, metallic paint, full LED headlights, wireless phone charging, a host of safety and connectivity technology and a digital dashboard.

The digital dashboard uses the same technology as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, and the Cupra is the only version of the Ateca to feature this excellent display. A £2,000 Comfort & Sound pack adds additional safety items, a space-saver spare wheel, electric tailgate, Beats audio system and heated front seats.

A Design pack costs just under £3,500 and features 18-inch Brembo brakes, 19-inch copper wheels and black interior styling. You could add both packs, but this nudges the Cupra Ateca into the higher rate of VED.

The Czech-built Cupra Ateca will be sold via 25 Cupra specialists in the UK, while the car’s first three scheduled services are included in the price.

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