The CUPRA Ateca was the first standalone model launched by the performance side of SEAT. The dynamically-style five-door SUV looks great from any approach, is packed with kit and boasts blisteringly quick acceleration.
The goodStyling, handling and pricing
The badOnly one engine choice
CUPRA Ateca – First Drive (2021)
When the performance side of SEAT announced it was spreading its wings and going it as a standalone brand called CUPRA, the first model to be launched was a mildly rebadged Ateca.
That was three years ago and now the five-door SUV has been given a complete makeover boasting lots of extra tech as well as a clear identity all of its own.
Powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged, four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 300PS of power and 400Nm of torque, the CUPRA Ateca is on sale in three generously-equipped trim levels called VZ1, VZ2 and VZ3.
There is a quick-shifting seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox and the dynamically styled car can power its way from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds and tops out at 155mph. According to official figures under stricter WLTP testing, the car can deliver a combined 29.7-31.7mpg with carbon emissions of 202g/km.
So, it would be fair to say that this is a ‘performance’ SUV that is geared towards power and pace rather than simple comfort levels.
The line-up is priced from £39,074 for the VZ1 model, but we tested the range-topping VZ3 priced at £44,265 and it came with all the bells and whistles, along with some extra kit such as the addition of Brembo brakes that help the car stop as fast as it starts.
When viewed from any angle, the CUPRA Ateca looks the business with fairly aggressive styling. New design cues on the latest model include full LED headlights, a revised bumper and an upper honeycomb grille featuring the CUPRA logo. The roof rails, door mirrors and side mouldings are finished in a glossy dark aluminium and there are puddle lamps that shine the CUPRA logo onto the floor when the doors are opened.
Moving inside, the sporty interior is neatly laid out with a CUPRA supersports flat-bottomed steering wheel with satellite buttons each side of the wheel – one to fire up the engine and the other to flick through the various drive modes.
These drive modes are called Comfort, Sport, Cupra, Individual, Off-road and Snow and they alter the reactions of the vehicle. There are also steering wheel-mounted paddles so you can take charge of the gear changes manually and, if you are feeling particularly courageous, you can turn off the stability control system for some extra driving fun.
When it comes to performance and handling, the CUPRA Ateca behaves more like a hatchback than an SUV with blisteringly quick acceleration, confident road holding and all the power on tap you could wish for. It cruises effortlessly at 70mph on motorways, is agile in busy town centre settings, but is at its happiest when unleashed on the twisting country lanes.
The 4Drive all-wheel drive set-up is the latest generation of the company’s traction system allowing the vehicle to deliver power to the wheels while maintaining the highest levels of grip and control along the way.
The CUPRA Ateca is well-equipped as standard too with a 10.25-inch high resolution fully-customisable digital driver display, plus a new 9.2-inch colour infotainment screen that also includes full sat nav and natural voice control that is activated by saying the magic words ‘Hola Hola’.
There is full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and the embedded eSIM allows users access to the latest infotainment apps.
In addition, there is a CUPRA Connect app that introduces a number of remote features. For example, you can lock or unlock the car, see what driving range is left, access driving data from previous journeys, find your parking position, or even be warned if someone else is driving the car too fast or if it has been stolen. You can also activate the Ateca’s horn and indicators so it is easier to spot in a crowded car park.
Comfort levels are excellent with sports seats up front and room for a couple of adults in the back or three if they don’t mind a bit of a squeeze. The boot can accommodate 485 litres of kit, a limit that increases with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat, and there are plenty of additional storage compartments scattered throughout the cabin to tuck away bits and pieces too.
When you factor in the wealth of safety kit and driver assist systems on the car to keep occupants and other road users safe, the CUPRA Ateca is quite the complete package.
And with the UK being the third largest market for CUPRA models and news of electrified models on the horizon, these are certainly exciting times for the Spanish car maker.