Cupra Ateca 2.0 Review
Dark Horse

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
2 Apr 2020

It is easy to like this car. Practical, handles well… and in this case its bite is actually harder than its bark.

The CUPRA nameplate has always been synonymous with high performance models, developed by Spanish automaker, SEAT. For those who are unfamiliar, in essence, the CUPRA emblem was SEAT’s way of GTi-badging their cars. But now, SEAT has taken a leap by turning the CUPRA name from performance badging into their performance sub-brand, and what we see in the works is indeed promising!

The first car to officially wear the frosted copper coloured CUPRA emblem, is the high-performance Ateca. While most of us would be familiar with SEAT’s 1.4 litre version, CUPRA takes the vanilla Ateca, up a few good notches.

Full LED headlamps, complete with integrated daytime running lights (DRLs), which double as turn signals, and angular LED tail lights, work well with the CUPRA Ateca’s angular styling.

Additional bits of kit, like its reworked front and rear bumpers, honeycomb grille, ten-spoke 19” alloy rims which house blackened CUPRA-branded brake calipers and (real) quad tailpipes, hint a car that is quite special.


Beyond the vanilla Ateca switchgear, the leather wrapped steering wheel features copper-hued stitching, and a carbon fibre-themed horn cover, which carries the new CUPRA logo. Behind the steering wheel, the customisable 10.2” screen of its digital cockpit even apes Audi ‘S’ model and higher display modes, in its ‘Sport” single dial - rev counter and digital speed display setting.

Mirroring the sporty-themed digital cockpit, the infotainment unit, fronted by an 8” screen, also has its fair share of customisable virtual status dials. Since it is a Cupra car, a lap timer has to be available, just in-case you need to make that record run to buy yourself some takeout. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported, and a wireless charging dock is also available for compatible mobile devices.

With a 2,630mm wheelbase, the Ateca accommodates passengers at the rear quite well, and is comparable to its German and Czech siblings.

Cargo space of 485 litres may not be the largest, however, the flat loading area and shallow lip does make loading and unloading an easy task, and is made easier with an automated tailgate.

The Drive

Ah yes… our favourite bit… Digging into its Volkswagen parent performance parts bin, the Cupra Ateca is powered by a 2.0 turbocharged engine, with an impressive 300hp and 400Nm, the latter available between 2,000-5,200rpm. 

While the CUPRA Ateca is built with performance in-mind, leaving car in its ‘Comfort’ drive mode (one of three road driving modes), makes for quite a relaxed drive, with unhurried acceleration, while the Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), helps to deliver a relatively pliant ride. The only hint it is built to do more than bring you from point A to B, would come in the form of occasional jolts from larger bumps on the road, due to the 245/40/R19 wheels.

Turning the drive knob into “Cupra” mode (the brand’s equivalent of SPORT+), the Ateca switches from your typical everyday grocery and school run SUV, into the high-performance machine it was made to be. Throttle response is quicker, while the DCC ups suspension stiffness. As you accelerate, gears hang on a little longer, and you can hear slightly muted but satisfying snorts and burbles from the tuned quad exhaust system, whenever gears change, or when you release the throttle. 

Flat-out, the CUPRA Ateca hits the benchmark 100km/h in just 5.2 seconds (0.5 seconds quicker than the Leon CUPRA). It is very quick, but not ungainly, even with his higher centre of gravity. Gear changes from the 7-speed DSG transmission are rapid, and drive is put onto all four corners, via its 4Drive AWD system.

Pitch the Ateca into a bend, and even with a little more lean compared to a high performance road car, it feels poised, instilling you with turn-by-turn confidence. We also learnt that there are only two modes you would likely use in the car’s lifetime - ‘Comfort’ and ‘CUPRA’. In essence go relaxed, or full-flavoured, and never lukewarm… oh yeah!

While the CUPRA Ateca is intended for road use, engineers have kept its off-road drive mode available… but why not? After all, it has to do what an SUV is built to do. We however quickly found that those large 19” wheels and low sidewall tyres did us no favours when crossing some mild turf. But you see… it can… so we did!

Adding convenience and active safety into the mix, the Ateca is fitted with adaptive cruise control, automated parking, city emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert and tiredness recognition system. 

It is easy to like this car. Practical, handles well… and in this case its bite is actually harder than its bark.

Our Thoughts

For a dollar under *$178,000, the Cupra Ateca may not come cheap, but factor in the performance it delivers, there is nothing that is this engaging, in this segment and near this price point.

The Ateca with the CUPRA badge is not loud and obnoxious. In-fact, it feels rather mature, sophisticated - a relatively silent performer if you may, which is added points from me. 

Where Will CUPRA Go From Here? 

A full high-powered model lineup is just about up and ready, and includes the all new CUPRA Leon, and Leon Sportstourer. The Formentor, a crossover unique to the CUPRA brand, is testament to SEAT’s commitment that they are serious about heating things up!

*accurate as at 2 April 2020

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In Summary

We Like

Well executed re-kitting together with CUPRA branding. Composed, performs well, and isn’t obnoxious. Practical, just like the vanilla Ateca.

We Don't

Could use sliding rear seats for better practicality.


Heaps of fun, practical and refined.

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Engine Capacity 1984cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 9.3:1
Bore x Stroke (82.5 x 92.8)mm
Power 296bhp @ 5300rpm
Torque 400Nm @ 2000rpm
Power to Weight 183.3 bhp per ton


Acceleration 4.9s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 247 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 13.5 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Drive Type FF
Steering Electric


Body Type SUV
(L x W x H)
(4376 x 1841 x 1615) mm
Wheelbase 2631 mm
Turning Circle 10.8 metres
Kerb Weight 1615 kg
Boot Capacity 485 L
Boot Capacity (folded) 1579 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 55 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs