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Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review:Cupra Ateca

Overall verdict
There's not much else like it for the money, so long as you can get your head around the badge… and the price


Hot hatch performance with SUV styling and practicality


Nearly £40k for a Seat with somewhat unconvincing branding


What is it?

For reasons only a marketing bore can explain, Cupra has now undocked from the Seat mothership and is now a brand in its own right, not just a boot badge for fast versions. So Cupra comes first, then the model name.

Of course, Cupra isn’t suddenly building cars from scratch. It may have swapped the Seat badge for one resembling a dubious tattoo, but underneath the brand veneer you will still find adrenalised versions of Seat’s regular showroom models, now sold in a ‘Cupra Corner’ of selected dealerships.

In this case it’s the Ateca, the company’s best-selling crossover. You might have hoped that Cupra – famous for its scorchio hatches – would celebrate its newfound independence with a wild Leon of some sort. We’re told that sort of thing will come around, but for now, even Cupra can’t resist a crossover. Having said that, the Ateca’s performance credentials are fairly promising.

It gets a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine – you know the one from any other fast VW Group thing – making 296bhp and 295lb ft. It does 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds and its top speed is 152mph. It also gets all-wheel drive, a DSG automatic gearbox, adaptive suspension, a bespoke exhaust and optional four-piston Brembo brakes.

You’ll also notice wider front intakes, glossy black grilles, quad exit pipes (real ones), a rear spoiler and Cupra wheels in copper or silver – 19s are the biggest the Ateca can accommodate, leaving a lot of fresh air between tyre and body. A fair-size cat could have a happy afternoon’s kip in the gap, which you notice more in real life than in pictures.

Here’s the biggie: it costs £35,900 in basic form. On the one hand, that’s sub-£40k for a hot hatch with the appeal of an SUV. On the other, it’s nearly £40k for a Seat with an iffy new logo.

At first that may seem faintly ridiculous, but when you look at the Venn diagram of price, proportions and performance, the Ateca lives in a little world of its own. To get vaguely comparable speed and power from any other medium-sized SUV, you’re looking at spending around £50k+ on a Porsche Macan S or an Audi SQ5.

But although it may be marooned in its own micro-sector, that doesn’t mean it has a free pass. A £40,000-ish Seat – sorry, Cupra – has a lot to prove, starting with how it drives…

Continue: Driving