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The Cupra Ateca is part of a broader offensive to offer Cupra versions of some Seat models as well as, eventually, Cupra-only cars. Seat is trying to copy the example of in-house performance divisions like Renault Sport. It will launch seven models by 2020 as part of aggressive growth plans.
While the initial models will be reworked versions of current Seat machines, with Cupra Ibiza and Arona models likely in 2019, the firm hinted that it could introduce stand-alone Cupra models in the future as part of plans to use the brand as a technological figurehead.
The brand’s sales and marketing boss Wayne Griffiths said that splitting from Seat was important for brand value. “In terms of positioning it adds more to go with a separate brand,” he said. “If we kept it in the Seat world, there would always be compromises. We want to take it out of the Seat world to the race track. Most firms that have sporting brands take them out of heritage, like Abarth. But we want to look to the future.
Opinion: Why Cupra split from Seat
Cupra models will be based on Seats – for the foreseeable future, at least – but with significantly higher performance, more customisation options and a separate sales channel. Only about one-fifth of Seat’s dealer network will be awarded Cupra sub-franchises and models are set to be sold by specialists from Cupra-only areas.
The Cupra plan according to RD boss Matthias Rabe
Autocar first reported on the plans last year, when a draft of the new logo was shown in trademark filings. Seat boss Luca de Meo later admitted that Cupra would “add another dimension” to Seat’s appeal.
“Cupra emerged not just as a business discussion,” he said. “This is a declaration of love for motoring, in a society becoming a bit unfriendly to the sector.”
The Cupra Ateca is powered by a 296bhp version of the Volkswagen Group’s EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, although the torque peak of 295lb ft is higher than that produced by the similar engine in the Leon Cupra 300. Drive passes through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox – there are no plans for a manual version – with torque diverted rearwards when required by a part-time Haldex all-wheel drive system. Cupra claims a 5.2sec 0-62mph time and a 153mph top speed.