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Cupra Ateca 2 TSI 300PS 4Drive

Cupra Ateca 2.0 TSI 300PS 4Drive  
What’s that then?

You may have spotted on your travels a car that looks exactly like your neighbour’s Citroën yet, instead of sporting the brand’s famous chevrons on its nose and tail, it bears the initials DS. Same applies to some Fiats that, um aren’t. These have a jolly red and yellow shield with a scorpion across it and are called Abarth, in recognition of Carlo Abarth who founded the racing and road car company in 1949 - long since Fiat owned. This practise is called sub branding although in my view it should be called über branding due to superior trim or sportier ambition.

In the past, the hottest Seats boasted a little chrome Cupra badge meaning cup or trophy, but now the Spanish arm of the VW empire is at it also - sub branding. If it’s a rip snorter it’s now a Cupra, not Seat.

The new "brand" gets a new badge. One that’s never been seen before. Every marque has an emblem that most of us instantly recognise. The jury remains out on what Cupra have come up with. It’s been described as looking like a dodgy tattoo or something from a Marvel comic’s superhero’s tight vest. I think there’s something a little fascist about it. A lapel badge for a latter day follower of General Franco, perhaps. It certainly confused many on my recent extensive foray into Europe last month.

Oddly, the first model designated Cupra and wearing the badge is not a hot saloon or hatchback but an all-wheel-drive SUV, the popular not-a-Seat Atica. It’s just as practical as the cooking jobs but it’s also an awful lot faster. It’s distinguishable by bigger wheels, flared angry nostrils and two pairs of twin exhaust pipes. Proper ones, unlike some of the fake paraphernalia seen on many cars these days.

The engine is a cracker - and a familiar friend - the four pot 2.0 Litre 300PS Turbo also serves manfully in the understated yet very fine VW Golf R.
Cupra Ateca 2.0 TSI 300PS 4Drive  

The Ateca in Cupra guise effortlessly munched up the miles through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. There was a time when 155mph SUVs with the ability to reach 60 in five seconds were a minimum requirement in Benelux lands but these days it’s all seems a smidgin superfluous, so draconian and over-policed have the speed limits become, especially in France, where terrified drivers crawl around like chains of snails. Year by year, cars are getting faster and safer but we move so much more slowly.

I did, however, manage to give the Cupra the berries when nobody was looking and boy, stick this in full Cupra mode for optimum steering, hard suspenders and extra oomph and this thing shifts like a stabbed rat. It handles almost flatly through the bends at speed, with obviously a bit more lean than a hatch equivalent but the grip from the four-wheel-drive setup is astonishing and reassuring.

The first Cupra then? It’s good value for a hot SUV and it sits in a niche of its own. However, it’s expensive when compared to a hatchback equivalent. Do you need an SUV? It’s no Audi inside but the quality of the plastics doesn’t offend. Equipment levels here also set a very high standard.

It’s a good, comfortable and entertaining place to sit for 1250 miles. At 30mpg, I did find myself hopping in and out at the pumps which had the benefit of dislodging any DVTs I may have developed.

Cupra Ateca - from £39,140. As driven - £41,190
Cupra Ateca 2.0 TSI 300PS 4Drive  

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