Hot hatch performance with crossover styling and practicality
Infotainment isn’t easiest to use, Formentor is more stylish
What is it?
The Cupra Ateca was the first car that Seat’s new sporting sub-brand launched back in 2018. It was an easy enough job, which just involved prising off the Seat badges from the firm’s small crossover and glueing on some sporty bits.
These days it's not alone. There’s a bespoke model – the Formentor – plus the Cupra Born electric hot (okay, warm) hatch and Cupra Leon. More are on the way, but just be wary of the badge engineering going on here.
So what changed on the Ateca?
The Seat version is the company’s best-selling model, so Cupra has clearly been hoping that some of the magic would rub off. The donor car is a decent little family all-rounder, if a little bland. Cupra added a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine – you know the one from literally every other fast VW Group thing – making 296bhp and 295lb ft. All-wheel drive and a quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox mean it does 0–62mph in an amusing 4.9 seconds and it tops out at 153mph.
Any other tech upgrades?
The chassis was beefed up to cope with the expected walloping it would get from enthusiastic drivers, adaptive damping comes as standard to help the ride, and you can even spec mighty 18in Brembo brakes for £3k. They come as standard on the top spec VZ3 car.
What about rivals?
Of course, the Ateca is now positioned firmly in the mid £40k bracket and that opens it up so more competition: the spicy versions of the Volkswagen T-Roc and Tiguan, or the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35, BMW X2 M35i and Mini Countryman JCW. Plus there’s the elephant in the room - the Cupra Formentor - which has the same basic underpinnings but a more athletic profile.
So how does the Ateca drive?
It’s fairly impressive to drive considering what it is and where it came from: the ride is firm - which we’ll accept for a performance oriented car - but ultimately well damped and kept under control.
The performance numbers feel as perky as they look on paper, but it’s the sort of acceleration that’s best enjoyed when you don’t have passengers onboard... they might not appreciate it so much.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The Cupra Ateca is a quick and capable crossover in the oversized mould of a hot hatch. Neatly engineered and competent, it’s a practical and swift family car. Not the most engaging, but fun enough to pedal along a B-road once you’ve dropped the kids off at school. We like it.
It’s pretty subtle, too, with few clues beyond the big wheels, quad exhausts and badge (which the British public still seem to struggle with) that it has almost 300bhp and will do 0–62mph in under five seconds.
But that subtlety could prove problematic. Unlike the Ateca there is no Seat version of the newer Formentor, so its silhouette will be a rarer sight on Britain’s roads. Plus it’s sleeker, feels more modern inside, is still plenty practical and costs less.