The Cupra Ateca SUV is a brilliant family car that’s fast and great to drive, but you’ll have to accept its gloomy interior and boy racer exterior complete with tuner-esque branding
The Cupra Ateca is a practical SUV with the 300hp engine and four-wheel-system from the fiendishly quick SEAT Leon Cupra 300.
As a result of this SEAT connection, you’re probably wondering ‘what’s happened to the SEAT badge?’ Well, it’s gone – Cupra is SEAT’s new performance sub-brand and the Cupra Ateca the first in a line of cars that will wear that badge.
To help your mind separate Ateca from Cupra Ateca, the latter has been given the new badge plus the full treatment from the accessories catalogue. As a result, you get huge 19-inch alloy wheels, a body kit, a quad exhaust system and LED headlights. The result is a car with purposeful styling, although the unfamiliar badge makes it look like the creation of a tuning house rather than a mainstream car. Some will like that, others won’t.
The changes inside are more subtle, but you get body-hugging sports seats (complete with questionable looking carbon fibre vinyl bolsters) some Cupra badges and more fake-looking carbon fibre trim on the dashboard. Sadly, it’s not enough to redress the gloomy, almost exclusively jet-black cabin plastics that make the interior feel a little too dowdy for a genuinely sporty car like this.
If you already think the Cupra Ateca’s body kit is a little bit OTT, then we probably shouldn’t mention that the badge is supposed to emulate a tribal tattoo. Hmm.
Along with the bad bits, though, you also get the good bits of the standard Ateca, like its excellent 8.0-inch infotainment system. It’s even better in the Cupra Ateca because it comes complete with another digital screen behind the steering wheel that transforms into a huge map, making following the sat-nav’s directions child’s play.
Getting four adults sat comfortably should be equally simple. There’s loads of space up front and the Cupra Ateca’s upright body means it’s nearly as spacious on the airy back seats. Even the boot is very practical being tall, square and full of handy features such as shopping hooks and tethering points.
It’s all so sensible that it’s easy to forget that the Cupra Ateca is a car capable of rocketing from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds – more than a second quicker than a traditional hot hatch such as the VW Golf GTI. And you can do that consistently because the car’s four-wheel-drive system and standard seven-speed automatic gearbox gets you a perfect getaway time and time again. It’ll even return fuel economy of close to 40mpg.
Meanwhile, suspension that’s lowered by 11mm – and hooked up to adjustable dampers – cuts out body lean making the Cupra feel safe and predictable even when you’re ‘on it’. Admittedly, the extra body roll means it doesn’t leap into corners with the eagerness of a truly sorted hot hatch, but then it’s also a lot more comfortable with the suspension put in its most cosseting setting.
And it’s this jack-of-all-trades character that makes the Cupra Ateca so appealing – it gets mighty close to a hot hatch for fun while being a far more usable proposition in almost every other way. In terms of entertaining family cars, not many strike the balance quite so well.