For years, we've been told that Spanish maker SEAT is a kind of 'Iberian Alfa Romeo'. In the CUPRA though, it has an automotive brand with a much more credible claim to that description. You'll probably know the name, but only as a sporty trim designation that goes back to 1996, since when it's been used on a whole string of Ibiza and Leon hot hatches. Now, SEAT wants CUPRA to mean more, creating, in its words, 'a range of unique, sophisticated performance models designed to captivate car enthusiasts.'
This of course is just a starting point; no fewer than seven CUPRA models will be available through the freshly formed CUPRA dealer network by 2021, including the bespoke design that will effectively replace this car, the CUPRA Formentor. The idea, says the company, is 'to create cars not founded in nostalgia but rooted in the present'. Presumably, that's meant to be a dig at directly competing brands like Alfa Romeo and MINI, both of which produce products this CUPRA Ateca sets out to directly target: namely, quick, charismatic petrol-powered mid-sized SUVs, cars that offer a lot of what you get in, say, a Porsche Macan for a great deal less money. That sounds an interesting market niche. Can this car fill it? Let's find out.