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Road Test: Cupra Ateca

Is the Cupra Ateca performance SUV worth the extra money compared to its SEAT sibling, asks Martyn Collins.

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SECTOR: Crossover PRICE: From £36,695 FUEL: 34.0-36.6mpg (WLTP) CO2: 168g/km (NEDC Correlated)

Cupra was once the badge of fast SEAT models. That was until 19 months ago when it became a standalone brand. The Cupra Ateca is the first model to be launched from this brand, and on first glance it’s hard to tell it apart from the sportiest SEAT Ateca SUV models.

Look closer, and the Ateca gets chunkier bumpers, a unique grille plus new, questionable bronze badging and highlights that we’re not sure complement the range of exterior colour choices. The Cupra is also 20mm lower, with 19-inch wheels as standard.

Inside, like the exterior, the changes apart from the badging, trim and the TFT instruments are hard to spot. Still, being based on the Ateca, it’s the same, practical, spacious and, in the Cupra’s case, well-equipped place to be.

But it’s in the performance where the Cupra sets itself apart from the standard SEAT SUV. It’s powered by the 296hp and 400Nm 2.0-litre, four-cylinder TSi turbo petrol engine seen in the Volkswagen Golf R, matched with a slick, seven-speed DSG transmission, giving a 5.2-second time for acceleration to 62mph, despite the tall stance. Thankfully, 4Drive all-wheel drive is fitted as standard to make the most of its power. Body control is also excellent and the brakes are strong; Brembo brakes are featured as part of the extra-cost Design and Sound and Design Packs. As such, the Cupra Ateca is great fun to drive.

If you want to get more serious, there are six driving modes, including off-road and sporty Cupra functionality. Neither are best for this Ateca, as the lowered suspension compromises its off-road ability and the steering isn’t precise enough to match the performance.

Despite the large wheels and lowered suspension, the Cupra remains a comfortable drive – although there is noticeable tyre noise at speed.

For user-choosers, the Cupra Ateca will tick many boxes, but operators are likely to have higher interest in the more relevant Ateca FR Sport trim, priced from £28,655.

FW Rating: 4/5

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Martyn Collins

Martyn has 18 years experience as a motoring journalist, working across a wide selection of B2B and consumer titles. A car enthusiast since his early years, Martyn has a particular interest in the latest models and technology and in his spare time enjoys driving his own Minis.