07 Jun 2019 | 04.30 pm
Roadtest: SEAT Cupra Ateca
Prices start just short of €50,000
07 Jun 2019 | 04.30 pm
Cupra is the new upmarket sub-brand in the SEAT family, and the Ateca SUV is the first model to receive the makeover, writes Mark Gallivan
SEAT posted the best results in its history in 2018, booking an operating profit of €254m as sales advanced 3% to €10.2 billion. The marque sold 517,600 vehicles in 2018, 10.5% more than the previous year. Manufacture is spread across three plants in the Czech Republic as well as factories in Spain, Portugal, Slovakia, and Germany.
A new development at the company is the Cupra sub-brand. Its first iteration is the Cupra Ateca, a high-performance SUV that targets the premium SUV segment. The car’s calling card is a turbocharged, direct-injection, four-cylinder 2-litre TSI petrol engine that produces 400Nm of torque. It’s controlled by a newly developed seven-speed transmission, and the claimed top speed is 247kph.
SEAT says the all-wheel drive 4Drive technology analyses road conditions in real time to enhance driveability in various conditions. The front suspension setup uses MacPherson struts and a multilink rear, and also integrates the adaptive suspension system called Dynamic Chassis Control, so the setup can be adjusted to the driver’s needs. The driving modes span Comfort, Sport, Individual, Snow, Off-Road and also a Cupra mode.
For design, the Cupra Ateca’s upper grille features a honeycomb effect, while at the rear four exhaust pipes sit on the edge of the rear diffuser. Nineteen-inch alloy wheels, glossy black details all over the exterior, LED headlights and a prominent new copper Cupra logo complete the muscular look. Standard equipment includes keyless entry and start system, wireless charging, 8-inch touchscreen system, and Park Assist.
In Ireland, the Ateca is priced from €49,990 and is available from just one specialist dealer in Dublin. This souped-up Ateca uses the same 2.0-litre petrol engine and gearbox as in the Volkswagen Golf R, so from standstill it catapults with imperceptible gear changes to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds.
In the Cupra driving mode, the steering and suspension are firmed up, changing the ride characteristics from very firm in the normal Ateca, which can feel unruffled on poor roads. There is a degree of understeer when cornering hard, but that is mostly due to the higher centre of gravity than the Golf R, which no amount of clever engineering can ever overcome.
Out of town, the Cupra Ateca has good ability to cruise with minimal noise in normal driving modes, slipping easily into a thoroughly accessible performance machine when placed in Cupra mode. What’s most impressive is how light the car feels to drive, with a playfulness that defies its heft.
Inside the cabin, the Alcantara front seats are excellent and very supportive, and the driving position is without fault. A novelty is that when you unlock the doors, LEDs in the exterior mirrors illuminate the area close to the door sills, projecting the Cupra’s logo onto the ground. The overall feel is like a higher specification regular Ateca, and for the higher asking price it’s a disappointment that the Cupra hasn’t been given more individual fittings.
Finding other SUVs that are more powerful and commodious is impossible at this price range. The Cupra Ateca is a small SUV that thrills with good feedback that mimics the best dynamics a hot hatch provides. The penalty for such driving pleasure is heavy fuel consumption. Though WLTP fuel consumption is advertised at 38mpg, I recorded 12.6l/100km (19mpg) in city driving.
Model: Cupra Ateca
Engine 2.0-litre TSI, 300bhp, 400Nm
Fuel: 8.5L/100km WLTP combined
Road Tax: €570
Price: €49,990 (as tested)
Verdict: Small SUV king