While the name may be familiar, applied to the most performance-pitched versions of SEAT cars in the past, in future it will be marketed as a completely separate performance sub-brand – in a similar fashion to the way Citroën’s DS line was separated out into the upmarket DS Automobiles brand.
Initially, Cupra models will be reworked versions of SEAT cars – the first, the Cupra Ateca, is on the Geneva stand and it is likely that it will be followed by new variants of the familiar Ibiza and Leon models, but this time with no sign of any SEAT badges.
Later on, however, Cupra could produce bespoke cars – by 2020 the brand is expected to offer a seven-strong line-up.
According to SEAT President Luca de Meo , the Cupra brand is part of a diversification of SEAT’s business and the development of new models that can be profitable. “Cupra aims to appeal to new customers who want to avoid entering in the luxury segment but at the same time want to feel special.”
The Cupra Ateca has a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 300hp, all-wheel drive and a newly-developed version of the VW Group seven-speed DSG auto transmission. Developments to this are aimed at making it sportier, with faster, smoother shifts.
Cupra models will also gain bespoke styling. The Ateca’s upper grille is fitted with a honeycomb mesh, a bespoke bumper and detailing in gloss black – in this case on the roof rails, wing mirrors, window frames, side mouldings, wheels, front grille and front and rear diffusers, and the spoilers that frame the rear window.
Black brake callipers, quad exhaust pipes and bespoke 19-inch alloy wheels also feature, along with Cupra logos in copper on the six exterior colours, dubbed Energy Blue, Velvet Red, Brilliant Silver, Rodium Grey, Magic Black and Nevada White.
Inside there is Alcantara upholstery on the door panels and seats, the latter stitched in grey as is the leather steering wheel. A carbon fibre effect is added to the sides and aluminium pedals included. Equipment levels are high too, highlights on the standard equipment list including keyless entry and start, a wireless charger, 360º top view camera, eight-inch touchscreen navigation system, digital instrument panel, and park assistance.
Electricity is also expected to be a central part of Cupra’s plans, with some observers predicting it will launch electric models before SEAT. The electric touring car racing version of the Leon, debuting on the stand, is badged as a Cupra.
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