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There's more to come from the new Cupra performance brand this year, but we familiarise ourselves with its first model - the Ateca.
19in alloy wheels, 9.2in touchscreen, 10.2in LED configurable instrument
display, satnav, DAB radio, Apple Carplay, Android Auto, 'around-view' camera
Design pack, Comfort Sound
pack, Comfort Sound Design pack
Seven-speed DSG auto
When Seat set out to launch its new performance sub-brand, Cupra, you'd have put money on the fact that it was going to kick things off with a Leon derivative, right?
Well, Seat surprised everyone a couple of years ago when it announced that its Ateca family SUV would be the first model to adorn the stand-alone Cupra badge, leading many to question just how sporty this new Cupra spin-off would be.
But why are we featuring it in Business Car? Well, with diesel CO2 emissions much higher under WLTP, and with many models still subject to the 4% supplement, the costs of some high-performance cars are closer to diesel than ever.
Under the bonnet of the Cupra Ateca is the same 300hp 2.0-litre petrol engine, seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive system as the VW Golf R hot hatch. On paper, its zero to 62mph sprint is quoted at 5.2 seconds - just 0.6 seconds slower than the Golf R. But with the added ride height, does it feel fast?
Well, yes, it does. Acceleration may not feel as visceral as what you get in a low-riding hot hatch, but there's no denying that the Cupra Ateca feels quick. And it's got the finesse to channel that speed, too. The steering is sharp, light and easy to use, but with even the smallest tweak of the wheel you can feel its character changing at your fingertips. Grip is excellent when cornering, although with the added ride height there is naturally some lean. The seven-speed DSG auto does a great job of keeping up with quick shifts up and down the rev range too.
The various driving modes of the Cupra Ateca help you find the right balance when it comes to family and fun, with the dynamic chassis control (DCC) offering a highly adaptable ride, although neither of the modes deliver drastic changes to the Ateca's character. In fact, it will likely take you a while to find the sweet spot between the weightier steering of Cupra mode and softer suspension of Comfort mode. Thankfully, that's what Individual mode is for.
Although the Cupra Ateca is clearly capable of offering thrills behind the wheel, there is a clear sense that it's reining it in in certain places, and the pay-off is a more relaxed and family-friendly drive. Great news for some, but not necessarily for others. It's certainly a car you learn to love after living with it - once you've figured out how to bring out its rebellious character, and capitalise on its softer side.
As you might expect, the Cupra Ateca is almost identical to the Seat Ateca on the inside, bar the copper badge and copper stitching on the steering wheel, as well as the swanky part-leather, part-alcantara seats. As a result, the Cupra Ateca's dashboard is very user-friendly - albeit a little dull.
All Cupra Atecas come generously equipped with a 9.2in touchscreen, 10.2in LCD screen behind the steering wheel, satnav, DAB radio, Apple Carplay, Android Auto and an 'around-view' camera, as standard. The different equipment grades available can be a little confusing as they're more like option packs, with Design and Comfort and Sound adding extras like Brembo brakes and copper alloys.
In the rear, space is in abundance, with headroom being particularly impressive. There are also decent-sized door bins, a fold-down armrest and a nifty net to mount your phone on the centre console when you've plugged it in to charge. Due to the all-wheel drive system, there is a bit of a transmission hump in the floor, but there is enough footwell space that the middle passenger shouldn't have a problem getting comfy.
The all-wheel drive system hampers boot space ever so slightly too, with 480 litres of storage space on offer, down 30 litres when compared to the two-wheel drive Seat Ateca. Overall, the boot is very practical though, with a no-nonsense shape that allows you to push cargo right into the corners. The large hump you get between the back seats and boot when you fold the seats down is a bit of a nuisance, however.