- New, more aggressive styling and lots of extra tech
- Competitively priced for a 4WD SUV
- Practicality of an SUV but handles like a hatchback
- Petrol engine is quite noisy at idle
- Some hard plastic surfaces on the console that could be prone to scratching
- The wide B pillar blocks over-the-shoulder visibility unless you crane your neck
The CUPRA Ateca is a five-door sporty SUV that’s packed with tech and looks dynamic from any approach. It is only available with a 2.0-litre TSI 300PS petrol engine, but customers can select from three trim levels called VZ1, VZ2 and VZ3.
As the first model from CUPRA, the Ateca has been received enthusiastically and in 2019 more than 19,000 models were sold. It now boasts lots of technical upgrades with new sports seats and an improved infotainment system.
Factor in the latest generation 4Drive all-wheel drive and this SUV will keep going no matter how grumpy Mother Nature gets.
On The Road
While customers can choose between three trim levels called VZ1, VZ2 and VZ3, the CUPRA Ateca is only available with one powertrain. It’s a punchy 2.0-litre turbocharged, four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 300PS of power and 400Nm of torque.
The engine is mated to a quick-shifting seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission and can power its way from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds and onto a top speed that is limited to 155mph. That’s not bad at all for a family SUV.
In addition, the 4Drive all-wheel drive system is the latest generation of the traction system, and allows the vehicle to deliver power to the wheels while maintaining the highest levels of grip and control. This clever system constantly monitors and analyses the driver input and road conditions for the best traction.
When it comes to dynamic performance, the CUPRA Ateca is most certainly an SUV with attitude with perfect weight balance for improved performance. And the addition of ventilated 18-inch Brembo brakes on the range-topping CUPRA Ateca means the car stops as quickly as it starts and is beautifully balanced through corners.
Factor in the nicely weighted steering with bundles of driver feedback and the car is as happy being pushed along twisting B roads as it is cruising at 70mph on motorways.
The CUPRA Ateca is in theory a family SUV, but it boasts ride and handling capabilities that would put many hatchbacks to shame. With an excellent relationship between the engine and chassis, the vehicle delivers dynamic performance with the chassis tuned to offer the most precise, involved and responsive ride possible.
The car reacts to any changes in the driver’s input, such as steering angle, accelerator or braking, as well as differing road conditions via the dynamic chassis control system. It then adjusts the suspension and damper settings within milliseconds for a perfect driving experience.
There are drive modes called Comfort, Sport, Cupra, Individual, Off-road and Snow that alter the characteristics of the car and there are steering wheel-mounted paddles so you can take charge of the gear changes manually. And, if you are feeling particularly brave, you can turn off the stability control system.
In addition, the driver can flick the gearshift into a Sport setting and this, combined with the Dynamic mode, will result in lots of crack and popping sounds from the engine and exhaust system.
Then when you want to calm things down, simply switch across to Comfort and the vehicle is happy enough pottering along on the school run with lots of agility and a good turning lock.
With its fairly aggressive badging and striking design, there is no doubt the CUPRA Ateca is a performance SUV and the latest styling updates reaffirm this theory.
Viewed from the front, there is a new bumper design as well as new full LED headlights. The upper honeycomb grille features the CUPRA logo at its centre point with a dark chrome finish to the frame. The lower grille boasts a dark aluminium diffuser flanked by LED foglamps. The roof rails, side mouldings and door mirrors 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.
The rear LED light clusters feature dynamic indicators and there are quad exhaust pipes to complete the aggressive styling. Our car was riding high on 19-inch copper alloy wheels which looked really neat.
Moving inside, you are greeted with illuminated treadplates and there are supportive sports seats, along with a CUPRA supersports steering wheel with satellite buttons. The buttons each side of the wheel are for firing up the engine or flicking through the drive modes.
There is copper-coloured and dark aluminium detailing throughout the cabin with the air vents, touchscreen and controls all benefitting from this colour scheme that was chosen to represent a sense of performance.
The seats are upholstered in Alcantara, while the dashboard and door panels are finished in dark aluminium with copper stitching.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
It takes just a matter of seconds to find the ideal driving position inside the CUPRA Ateca with powered seats and a manually-adjustable steering wheel.
Staying connected on the move is essential these days and the vehicle has all bases covered with four illuminated Type C USB ports inside the car – two up front and two in the back.
The interior of the car is beautifully laid out and generously equipped as standard. The main focal point, apart from the flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, is the 10.25-inch high resolution fully-customisable digital driver binnacle, along with a new 9.2-inch colour infotainment screen that also includes full navigation and natural voice control that is activated by saying the magic words: ‘Hola Hola’.
There is smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and the embedded eSIM allows users access to the latest infotainment apps.
And there is also a CUPRA Connect app that offers a number of remote features. This means you can access driving data from previous journeys, lock or unlock the car, find your parking position, see what driving range is left, or even be warned if someone else is driving the vehicle too fast or if it is stolen. And if, like me, you are often searching a crowded car park for your vehicle, the app will activate the Ateca’s horn and indicators so it is easier to spot.
All the technology on the car is easy to use on the fly and the touchscreen was nice and responsive with clear, sharp graphics.
Space & Practicality
The five-door CUPRA Ateca is an SUV so needs to tick all the boxes for any active family. And it does just that while maintaining a sense of individuality along the way. Few cars will turn so many heads on the school run.
The latest car boasts some new dimensions that not only improve its agility, but are also beneficial to passenger room. It measures nearly 4.4 metres in length and is 1.8 metres wide and almost 1.6 metres high. The rear doors open nice and wide offering easy access to any child seats and there is ample leg, head and elbow room in the back for a trio of passengers if they don’t mind rubbing shoulders.
The boot can swallow 485 litres of kit – a limit that is increased with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. And there are a number of storage compartments scattered throughout the car too, including a glovebox, door bins, trays, a central cubby box, seat back pockets, front and rear cup holders and a drop-down sunglasses holder.
The CUPRA Ateca can tow a trailer weighing up to 2.1 tonnes and the 4Drive will make any off-road driving assured.
The CUPRA Ateca line-up ranges from £39,074 for the VZ1 version, to £41,085 for the VZ2 and finally £44,265 for the VZ3.
As the car comes very well equipped as standard, there are very few options to factor in which is good news. There is nothing worse than watching an extra five or six thousand pounds being added to the price-tag for the likes of sat nav, a better sound system, specialist mats etc. Thankfully, with the CUPRA Ateca it’s very much a case of what you see is what you get and you get plenty.
Our high-end CUPRA Ateca VZ3 could deliver a combined 29.7-31.7mpg under stricter WLTP testing and it had carbon emissions of 202g/km. This CO2 figure would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £1,345 reducing to the standard £155 rate after 12 months. But sadly, the payments don’t end there because all cars (apart from EVs) costing more than £40k have an additional surcharge of £335 for five years beginning 12 months after registration.
For business customers, the CUPRA Ateca has a Benefit in Kind rating of 37 per cent and our car was rated as insurance group 32.
Quality & Reliability
Although the CUPRA brand is fairly new, SEAT has been around a long time now and built up a well-respected reputation for reliability. It regularly scores highly in customer satisfaction surveys and repair bills tend to be low compared to many other carmakers.
The CUPRA Ateca certainly feels like it’s been built to last with practical Alcantara upholstery that looks and feels top notch.
All the switchgear is sturdy in its construction and the smart touchscreen is easily wiped clean from mucky fingerprints.
My only slight gripe was the rather hard plastic trim on the central console which would likely be prone to scratching over time.
But CUPRA’s three-year, 60,000-mile warranty will offer plenty of reassurance to owners along the way.
Safety & Security
The CUPRA Ateca gains the same maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating as the SEAT Ateca and is packed with features to protect occupants, other road users and help to prevent accidents from happening at all.
Despite being a performance SUV, the CUPRA Ateca is very safe with the likes of pre-crash assist, predictive adaptive cruise control, travel assist, emergency assist, plus side and exit assist.
The front assist system has automatic emergency braking and there is traction control, anti-lock brakes, hill-hold assist, a driver fatigue monitor, park assist, Isofix points, a full suite of airbags and the addition of Brembo brakes on the VZ3 models.
There is a built-in eSIM that delivers the eCall service which directly contacts the emergency services should an accident occur. Vital data is forwarded such as the vehicle’s GPS position, the engine type and the number of passengers inside the car.
An electronic alarm will help keep intruders at bay.
CUPRA was once simply a specification name for the higher-performing SEAT models. These days though it is a brand in its own right with eye-catching and aggressive badging to help it stand out in any crowd. And it is doing rather well. In fact, the UK is already the third-highest CUPRA market with 3,200 models delivered already this year.