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REVIEW – Cupra Ateca [Design Pack]

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer


Cupra Ateca 2.0 TSI 300 4DRIVE DSG [Design Pack]
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
4

Summary

Here in the Britain we love an SUV, so it was inevitable that niches within the SUV market would appear. The latest is ‘hot’ SUVs, and the Cupra Ateca demonstrates why this is such an enticing proposition. Space, practicality and usability on one hand; blistering performance on the other. The Cupra is one of the best at the ‘affordable’ end with bold styling, high-quality cabin and impressive tech levels. It just needs more ‘Cupra’-ness.


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Exterior Styling

Having tested the Seat Ateca in a couple of different guises over the last year or so, we’re somewhat familiar with it. The basic body shape is nice – angular, with sharp lines in places. We also liked the body styling added by the FR trim.

The Cupra Ateca is on a whole new level. ‘Sporty’ just doesn’t do the styling justice: it’s downright aggressive.

Whilst there may be some confusion over the whole Seat/Cupra branding identities, this particular Ateca is unmistakably Cupra.

There are no Seat badges anywhere. At the front you notice the copper-coloured Cupra badge, which looks like something seen in a Transformers movie. But is the Ateca an Autobot or a Deceptacon? We’ll let you decide. Also far from subtle is the word ‘Cupra’ on the lower front bumper.

To the side you’ll find 19-inch alloy wheels. Our test car was the Cupra Ateca Design, which means copper accents to the wheels. That provides a wonderful contrast to the Rhodium Grey paint, and also a harmony with the copper badging.

Privacy glass blends well with black window surrounds, side skirts, door mirrors and roof rails. There are prominent lines which give the Cupra Ateca a broad, beefed-up appearance.

The beefiness gets even stronger at the back. In fact, it’s from here that the Cupra Ateca looks best. Apt, given that it’s all most people will get to see…

Quad exhausts sit beneath a bulging rear valance. Cupra lettering is black, and there is another copper Cupra badge on the tailgate. A spoiler frames the rear window, and completes the rather effective exterior styling package.

There’s a certain degree of familiarity to the standard Ateca, but Cupra has done just enough to give this car its own identity, and make sure it stands out from the crowd.

Interior Finish

After the high of the exterior styling, climbing on board the Cupra Ateca is less exciting. Because you almost lose that Cupra feel, and it’s like any other Ateca. In fact, it’s like many other cars in the VW/Audi Group range.

There’s plenty of leather and alcantara around the cabin, and it’s the latter that greatly enhances the sporty feel. Some of the leather on the seats is a carbon-effect which sounds tacky, but is actually quite effective.

But it is the seats that let this cabin down significantly. They look, well, normal. From the beefy exterior with its quad exhausts, I would have expected equally-beefy bucket seats with huge bolsters. Even an embossed Cupra logo on the backrest can’t prevent the disappointment.

You can, however, opt for buckets as a (rather expensive) extra. More on that a bit later…

The flat bottomed steering wheel is re-imagined with a carbon weave pattern on the centre boss which, although a little tacky, matches the exterior badges.

Contrasting copper details, from the stitching to the ambient lighting, do bring a slight Cupra essence to the cabin. But it is, ultimately, and essence.

All the switchgear is identical to the regular Ateca, and the Leon come to think of it. A virtual cockpit comes as standard on the Cupra, which is a great feature. There are plenty of display options, from a minimalist single dial to a full-screen map.

The materials and build quality are of the usual quality we’ve come to expect of VW/Audi cars. Some of the plastics do leave a little to be desired, but these are generally lower down in the cabin and out of the way.

Engine/Performance

The engine range in the Cupra Ateca is a choice of one: a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol TSI. Power output is good: 300PS to be precise.

There’s also an impressive 400Nm of torque available from 2,000rpm right up to 5,200rpm, and it’s this figure which dictates how the car drives.

There’s plenty of pull from low revs, whatever gear you’re in. And the DSG gearbox in the Cupra Ateca has 7 gears to choose from. That makes for quicker acceleration – 0-62mph is dealt with in a rather prompt 4.9 seconds – without sacrificing cruisability. Top speed is 152mph.

There are several drive modes to choose from, easily selected using a twist-dial by the gear selector. These range from Comfort to Cupra, and even include Offroad and Snow modes. For the perfect balance you can set up an Individual mode, tailored to your exacting requirements.

The car is undoubtedly most alive in Cupra mode. This gives the sharpest throttle response, and keeps you in a gear to maximise acceleration effectiveness.

It also brings the throatiest of exhaust settings, which was a noticeable improvement over the Leon Cupra we recently tested. That being said, it still didn’t do justice to the Cupra Ateca: those four exhausts deserve a raucous soundtrack, à la Volkswagen Golf R.

But here’s the good bit. For an extra £500 you can have a warranty-approved ABT sports package. It’s ‘only’ an engine management tweak, but it gives an extra 50PS and 40Nm of torque. And whilst we haven’t experienced an upgraded Cupra Ateca ourselves, that seems like the bargain of the century.

As it is, the Cupra Ateca is no slouch. The 4DRIVE all-wheel drive system ensures no power is wasted. And the built-in Launch Control Programme makes this SUV formidable at the traffic lights.

Ride/Handling

It’s one thing being fast away from the lights, but that would all be in vain if the Cupra Ateca fell over once it got to a corner.

An SUV body means the Ateca is up against it, but Cupra has worked on the suspension to mitigate this. It’s an adaptive setup, so when in Comfort mode it softens to become more compliant over lumps and bumps. But even in its softest setting it is still rather firm.

The Leon ST 300 Cupra handles better, but the Cupra tweaks to the Ateca setup do their job. In Cupra mode body roll is minimal. That means you can hurl the Cupra Ateca into corners at speed. And you will do just that, because with 300PS and 4DRIVE all-wheel drive, there is plenty of speed to be had.

The 4DRIVE system can cleverly shift power around to maximise grip. This is to the front axle for the most part, which is good for economy. But under heavy acceleration, and in slippery conditions, the system will divert power to the rear axle.

Most of the time, you wouldn’t know what the system is up to. But in especially wet conditions there is a tendency to spin the front wheels before the system has a chance to fire some power to the rear, highlighting the front bias.

The Design Pack also contains Brembo front brakes. While this is more of a performance addition than a ‘design’ one, we’re not complaining. It means the Cupra Ateca has the stopping power sufficient to match the engine’s firepower, and the Ateca’s 1,615kg kerb weight.

Steering weight varies by drive mode. Cupra setting is heaviest, and was my choice for the individual drive mode. It lacks feel, but is direct enough to get away with it.

Economy

Economy is pretty much as you’d expect of a car like this. With a bit of weight to shift, and a powerful petrol engine under the bonnet, the WLTP-cycle combined fuel consumption of 31.7mpg won’t come as much of a shock.

You can actually better this figure on a long run; we saw mid 30s on a gentle motorway slog. Likewise, if you drive everywhere at full chat, you’re going to see a figure in the mid 20s.

There are a few things which help improve economy on the Cupra Ateca. Stop/start technology is good, turning off the engine when stationary. It works well with the DSG gearbox too: as you start to release the brake pedal the engine fires back into life.

Having the 7-speed version of the DSG is a plus too, making for more efficient cruising. You can also adjust the individual drive mode to a more eco-based setting.

Lastly the aforementioned 4DRIVE system plays its part. As a non-permanent all-wheel drive system it uses less fuel in everyday driving.

CO2 emissions are 168g/km as an NEDC-equivalent figure. That equates to first year VED of £515 and £145 in subsequent years.

Be mindful of the VED surcharge though. This version of the Cupra Ateca is very easily tipped over the £40,000 threshold. Doing so would result in an extra £320 VED in years 2-6.

Practicality

There has been an undeniable surge in the number of SUVs in the marketplace over the last few years. So much so that they now come in a variety of sizes, and from pretty much every manufacturer out there.

And the main reason is that everybody is buying them. The motoring press may not have got on board at first, but we were clearly in the minority. There’s a lot of appeal in cars that can do everything; offering families the perfect all-round vehicle.

It’s hard to knock the Cupra Ateca at all in this regard. The higher driving position gives a better view of the road. Being taller than, say, a Leon also means there is more headroom in the cabin. But the comparison to a Leon is an interesting one.

Boot space on the Cupra Ateca is 485 litres, which is less than you might expect. Part of the reason for this is the 4DRIVE system taking up room under the boot floor. But then the same is true of the Leon ST 300 Cupra, yet its boot is a more impressive 587 litres.

Despite having a posh bodykit and alloy wheels, the Cupra Ateca can still get stuck in to a family adventure. Towing capacity of 2,100kg means you can take bring a caravan, or a pair of jetskis, with you. And this is a car that looks great with a roof rack: an adrenaline junkie of sorts.

It’s unlikely that many Cupra Atecas will venture off road, but an extra bit of ground clearance over the likes of a Leon will certainly work to the Ateca’s advantage.

So there you have it. An SUV that is both fast and family-friendly. It’s easy to see why everyone is jumping on the SUV bandwagon…

Equipment

There is no budget-spec Cupra Ateca. There’s the standard car, which can be enhanced by either the Comfort and Sound Pack, the Design Pack, or both.

Let’s start with the lighting. You get a full-LED lighting system, which includes the headlights – both dipped and main beam – daytime running lights, and taillights. There’s LED lighting in the cabin too, including customisable ambient lighting. The puddle lights under the door mirrors project the Cupra logo onto the pavement, which is cool.

On the infotainment front there’s the wonderful digital cockpit and a 9.2-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dash. This includes satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB digital radio, 10GB hard disk drive and voice control. It’s not the prettiest interface, but it is intuitive and suitably responsive.

Other creature comforts include auto lights, auto wipers, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and go, park assist (front and rear parking sensors with self-park functionality) and 360-degree camera with top-down perspective.

Safety equipment comprises front and rear seatbelt reminders, tiredness recognition, hill hold assist and front assist: autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian protection.

Design Pack adds the copper design 19-inch alloy wheels, Brembo front brakes and gloss black interior finisher. It doesn’t sound like much, but the brakes don’t come cheap. And those alloys are utterly superb.

Comfort and Sound Pack adds a BeatsAudio sound system, for the ‘sound’ part. The ‘comfort’ part comes in the form of adaptive cruise control, heated front seats, high beam assist and an electric tailgate.

Value For Money

Prices for the Cupra Ateca start at £36,695 on the road for the ‘standard’ car. With the Comfort and Sound Pack, it’s £38,650. With the Design Pack it’s £40,075. And if you have both the Design Pack and the Comfort and Sound Pack, the Cupra Ateca will set you back £41,910.

Due to the comprehensive standard specification, there isn’t much in the way of an options list. Be warned though, because a few of the items that are on it are on the pricy side.

The aforementioned bucket seats will leave you in two minds. On the one hand, they will liven up the interior significantly. But £1,620 is one hell of a price to pay for two front seats.

A panoramic roof is £1,050, and towbar pre-installation is £130 for the wiring only, or £700 to include the towbar as well. A space saver spare wheel is £120 and a boot divider net is £170. And that’s your lot.

For us the Design Pack is a must – copper alloys finish off the exterior wonderfully, and Brembo brakes give the Cupra Ateca the stopping power it deserves.

Whether or not you feel the Comfort and Sound pack is worth the extra £1,800 is up to you. You could, for the same money, have the bucket seats, which would finish off the interior too.

If you’re looking for a family car that can satisfy the petrolhead inside you, the Cupra Ateca is a great fit. But at the £40,000 mark you have plenty of choice.

And one of those choices could be the Seat Leon Cupra R Estate. Just as visually-striking as the Cupra Ateca – if not more so – but faster, cheaper, and more exclusive. We’ve got one coming later this year: keep an eye out for our review.

Facts and Figures

Engine 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Max power 300PS at 5,300-6,500rpm
Max torque 400Nm at 2,000-5,200rpm
Drivetrain 7-speed DSG transmission, 4DRIVE all-wheel drive
0-62mph 4.9 seconds
Top speed 152mph
Fuel tank size 55 litres
Fuel consumption 31.7 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 168 g/km NEDC equivalent
Kerb weight 1,615kg
Towing capacity 2,100kg braked / 750kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 485 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £40,075
Price as tested £40,075
Company website www.cupraofficial.com/cars/cupra-range/cupra-ateca/overview.html

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