So what makes a Cupra a Cupra and not a Seat; or, more specifically, how might this car have been different had it simply been a Seat Ateca Cupra?

The answer as regards this Ateca’s mechanical make-up is probably very little. This is, after all, only a more powerful, more performance-focused version of Seat’s medium-sized crossover SUV – although entirely separate and more clearly distinguished Cupra models are rumoured to be in the pipeline.

Simon Davis

Simon Davis

Road tester
Copper colour of Cupra logo is a welcome departure from the palette typical of performance cars like this. If you like it, the optional alloy wheels included with the Design package are coloured similarly.

The car uses the latest, WLTP emissions-compliant version of the VW Group’s EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine (which is also due to appear in the 2019-model-year Golf R and the Audi SQ2 very soon) and produces a peak 296bhp of power and 295lb ft of torque. The forthcoming BMW X2 xDrive M35i will beat those outputs, but no other crossover hatchback at a similar price point currently does so.

The Cupra Ateca features a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and a clutch-based electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system as standard. Suspension is by the same arrangements of MacPherson struts at the front and multiple links at the rear that four-wheel-drive versions of the Seat Ateca use; but the Cupra gets stiffer suspension springs and anti-roll bars, uprated adaptive dampers, 19in alloy wheels and uprated brakes as standard.

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The car runs with a ride height lowered by 20mm compared with that of a regular Ateca and offers a ground clearance improvement over that of a normal five-door hatchback of about the same margin. With air springs almost unknown on cars of this type, there’s no mechanism to make the car capable of switching between jacked-up and lowered suspension modes.

However, the Cupra Ateca does have ‘progressive’ passive variable-ratio power steering, which cuts the rack’s lock-to-lock travel to just 2.1 turns. But, unlike other four-wheel-drive performance machines, it has no dedicated asymmetrical torque vectoring hardware, although it does allow you to adjust the behaviour and inter-axle torque distribution of the Haldex-style four-wheel drive through various drive modes.

The car has some distinguishing exterior design features, but they’re restricted mostly to bumper and grille embellishments. Most testers agreed that the Cupra Ateca is appealing enough, but also felt more could and should have been done to produce a more clearly identifiable visual appeal for a car from an all-new brand.

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