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SEAT makes Cupra a standalone brand. Image by SEAT.

SEAT makes Cupra a standalone brand
High performance badge is launched with a 300hp Ateca.
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What's this then?

This is the Cupra Ateca.

Er, I think you'll find that's a SEAT.

No, it's a Cupra. SEAT is taking its high performance badge and turning it into a separate brand in its own right. Much as Fiat has done with Abarth and Volvo is doing with Polestar. Cupra will now make exclusive, expensive, hi-performance SEATs that will be sold in 260 specially selected dealers across Europe.

I see. So why has SEAT done it?

"Cupra is a big opportunity for SEAT, for our customers and for the business", said President Luca de Meo, who has been the driving force behind the entire project. "The whole project has surfaced as the dream of a group of people who were looking for a way to conquer a new group of car lovers."

SEAT Vice-president for Sales and Marketing Wayne Griffiths highlighted that. "Our ambition for the Cupra brand is to double the sales within the next four-to-five years, focusing our business model on four main pillars: distribution, partnerships, racing and product," he said.

So what can we expect from Cupra?

Cupra will be SEAT's go-to department for special equipment, exclusive options and even short-run special models. Sort of like McLaren's MSO department, only for hot Spanish hatchbacks and SUVs. The brand is starting partnerships with leather specialist Trakatan and bike-maker Fabike to be able to offer customers that little something special.

One presumes it'll make cars, too?

Oh yes, and the first one is the Cupra Ateca. It takes the same 300hp 2.0-litre TSI engine and 4Drive all-wheel drive hardware that you can already find in the Leon ST Cupra, and adds a new honeycomb grille, with the big V-shaped Cupra badge instead of the familiar S badge.

Other visual changes are a bulky bodykit replete with spoilers and diffusers and 19-inch diamond cut alloy wheels.

The 2.0-litre engine gets a new exhaust filter, cutting out particulate emissions, a new seven-speed DSG auto box, and adaptive suspension. There's also the option of massive 18-inch Brembo high performance brakes.

Inside you get wall-to-wall Alcantara, aluminium and carbon-fibre, and there will be an optional carbon-fibre styling pack for both the inside and outside, as well as sportier Cupra bucket seats. Keyless entry and starting, a wireless phone charger, GSM signal booster, 360 top view camera, eight-inch touchscreen navigation system plus, digital instruments and park assist. Plus, you have a choice of six colours; Energy Blue, Velvet Red, Brilliant Silver, Rodium Grey, Magic Black and Nevada White.

SEAT Executive Vice-President for Research and Development, Dr Matthias Rabe said: "Cupra Ateca offers versatility like no other brand. It's about a unique model in its segment, with 300hp, 4Drive and a new 7-speed DSG gearbox. It is the best example of balance between sportsmanship, fun at the wheel and ease of use in everyday life."

Neil Briscoe - 22 Feb 2018

2018 SEAT Cupra Ateca revealed. Image by SEAT.2018 SEAT Cupra Ateca revealed. Image by SEAT.2018 SEAT Cupra Ateca revealed. Image by SEAT.2018 SEAT Cupra Ateca revealed. Image by SEAT.2018 SEAT Cupra Ateca revealed. Image by SEAT.

2018 SEAT Cupra Ateca revealed. Image by SEAT.2018 SEAT Cupra Ateca revealed. Image by SEAT.2018 SEAT Cupra Ateca revealed. Image by SEAT.       - SEAT road tests
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