mReview: 2022 CUPRA Ateca - An Unfiltered European Tribute To Muscle Cars

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Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1660097165374 Cupraateca FeaturedBack when it was originally launched, the CUPRA Ateca was the only SUV in the marque’s lineup. That all changed with the introduction of CUPRA’s first standalone model in the Formentor.

With the hype and the fanfare, it does seem that the Formentor’s arrival has overshadowed the Ateca’s presence in the CUPRA lineup. But the fact remains that it is the only proper-looking SUV in the Spanish automaker’s lineup.

There’s something so refreshing about a car that doesn’t try to pretend that it is something that it clearly isn’t. It is so unashamedly butch and slab sided, and really stands out amongst the more svelte offerings in the rest of the current CUPRA lineup.

Beauty Isn’t Skin-Deep

Then again, it is this visual sticking-out-like-a-sore-thumb that sort of betrays the Ateca’s actual age. This new facelift goes a long way in tidying up the aesthetics of the car, bringing its front fascia more in line with the current design language of the newer cars. But no amount of cosmetic updates will hide the fact that the car was clearly designed much earlier than the current Leons and Formentors.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1660096799372 Cupraateca 09If you’re looking for a properly-sized SUV with all the usable space to boot, perhaps this has to be the CUPRA for you. But if it’s visuals you are going for, the Formentor may be a better buy. Still, that doesn’t mean that there’s no target market for the Ateca, as it fundamentally targets a very different group of buyers than those that may choose to purchase the Formentor.

The Purity

If there’s one criticism I’d have about the new Formentor and CUPRA-ified Leons, is that whilst they are immensely capable cars, you’ll need to push well past legal limits to really be able to truly appreciate the performance of the chassis. In other words, driving at any pace legally makes the cars feel tamed and sanitised.

In fact, sound has to be artificially added to make the cars feel more dramatic at law-abiding speeds. But the same is not the case with the CUPRA Ateca. This is probably the most visceral feeling CUPRA model in the entire current catalogue.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1660096540457 Cupraateca 01You’ll hear crackles and pops, and it isn’t the synthetic variety that you’d now find on so many different modern cars. The older EA888 Gen3 engine, which can also be found shoehorned in the front end of the previous generation SEAT Leon CUPRA, does feel less refined than the newer Gen4s that are fitted to the likes of the CUPRA Formentor and Leon models.

But again, this serves to exemplify the user experience. You do not need to be driving this like a complete maniac to feel like you are driving something that is inherently very special - the torque and sound makes you feel a buzz even if you are doing triple digit speeds.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1660096618334 Cupraateca 04Temper your expectations, for this is a large SUV - do not expect the same B-road carving prowess as you’d find in a sportier CUPRA vehicle. Having said that, when you do decide to crank up the ante on the driving front, the key changes CUPRA made to the car does mean that it is significantly more agile than its size and heft would suggest. Chucking the car into a sequence of bends reveals just how competent the car actually is, with fairly neutral characteristics at sensible speeds.

If you then decide to further up the ante, increasing the amount of momentum carried into a corner at a speed that’d trigger any vigilante, you’ll experience some very slight understeer. And if that isn’t enough adrenaline for you, I suggest you attempt to push this as hard as you would any modern CUPRA product.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1660096962857 Cupraateca 03

In doing so, you'll realise that whilst it may not have the raw mechanical ability of its newer stablemates, it still constantly reminds you of its performance credentials. It wants to tell you that all the bulges and vents are not just there for show, that there's actually go to back up the visuals. Just what you need then for a morning commute - horsepower-fueled wake-up calls are a healthier substitute than that sugar-laden cup of Mocha from your favourite coffee shop.

How Is It Like To Live With?

As with the pre-facelift car, it is actually fairly civilised when you are cruising in Comfort mode. The car feels very much like a SEAT Ateca, albeit one with a louder exhaust. The suspension becomes more pliant, and the car does ride marginally better than in out-and-out CUPRA mode.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1660096757054 Cupraateca 16The interior is a mishmash of bits from different eras from the Volkswagen-Audi group. You get a newer style digital cluster, but with a centre console and shifter that was lifted straight from a previous generation VAG product. Up front, the buckets are unchanged from the pre-facelift car, and are very similar to what is currently fitted to modern CUPRA cars. In the Ateca, they have been trimmed in a lovely shade of dark blue, which adds a nice subtle touch of class to the cabin.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1660096772907 Cupraateca 15You get a larger infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which itself is a step-up size-wise from the older car. Space inside is excellent, and you’d definitely be able to get comfy in any seat in the cabin - perks of a car designed before an era in which sloping rooflines are the norm.

Closing Thoughts

There are many reasons why you’d buy another car from the CUPRA catalogue over the Ateca. Those cars are perhaps faster and more mechanically capable. But there’s two very big reason why you’d have this over the newer vehicles - one, this just feels significantly rawer, and two, you’d be hard pressed to find another CUPRA car with more usable space in the cabin.

So Instead of rambling on about how imprecise the Ateca’s archaic underpinnings are, we should celebrate the very fact that the Spaniards have a sense of humour, and that they are willing to create a vehicle that isn't all about creating an OP Top Trumps card.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1660096684063 Cupraateca 05This is a car that drips with effervescence, a celebration of what makes petrol power great in an era in which dinosaur juice is increasingly vilified. Which is probably why I’d have a CUPRA Ateca (if I'm looking for a sporty SUV) in a heartbeat!

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Engine: 1,984cc Turbocharged 16-Valve Inline-4

Power: 296hp @ 5,300-6,500rpm

Torque: 400nm @ 2,000-5,200rpm

Fuel Consumption: 12.5km/l

0-100km/h: 4.9s

Top Speed: 247km/h

Drivetrain: 7-Speed Wet DSG; All-Wheel Drive

Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Disc Brakes (Rear)


Wheelbase: 2,631 mm

Dimensions (LxWxH): 4,386 mm x 1,841 mm x 1,613 mm

Weight: 1,626 kg

Fuel Tank Capacity: 55 litres

Boot Capacity: 485 litres


Keyless Entry

Electric Tailgate

Automatic Headlights

Rain-Sensing Wipers

Adaptive Cruise Control

Auto Parking

Tyre Pressure Monitoring System

Read More: mReview: 2022 SEAT Ateca 1.4 TSI 8-Speed: An Even Safer Bet!

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