Atecas Amended

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Words: Peter Louisson   |   Photos PL/Seat/Cupra
22 Jan 2021

The Cupra Ateca has been updated for 2021, likewise the Seat Ateca, subtly for the most part, but the big news for this year is the arrival of Cupra’s first offering that isn’t a Seat makeover.

And that newcomer would be the curvy Formentor, due in the second half of the year and ready to foment a bit of sales action for the Spanish brand. If you’re considering a Cupra Ateca, you should also have this on the wish list, as it is based on similar mechanicals but is rather sexier because of its rounded, coupe-like design.

Luggage and rear seat space might not be quite as commodious (420L vs 485L Cupra Ateca) but what price style, right? Local Cupra and Seat boss, James Yates, said there were already confirmed orders for four, no wait, five, make that six of them, the latter two confirmed over the phone during the launch drive of the updated Ateca range!

Moreover, it looks as if spinning off Cupra into its own brand has been a success, at least if New Zealand is anything to go by. Last year, just over one-third of all sales were of Cupra models, compared with 17 per cent in 2019, and this year Yates reckons the performance brand will run even-stevens with Seat. Kiwis certainly do seem to appreciate sporty vehicles, especially sports SUVs/crossovers.

And the launch drive of the updated range kind of showed why. Simply because we could, we decided to opt for the lowest power and cost model from the rationalised Ateca range first - that would be the FR as Style and Xcellence have gone by the wayside - and then into FR4, and finally the Cupra Ateca, figuring we’d leave the best until last; that was the theory at any rate.

Last year was a sales disappointment for just about every brand, the global coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns seeing local new vehicle numbers down by one-quarter overall. Making things more difficult for Seat and Cupra was the lack of new model variants, but this year promises to be different, according to Yates, with the updated Atecas, new Formentor(s), rationalised Arona range, and new Leon wagon and hybrid models arriving later in the year.

As to the Ateca variants, both Seat and Cupra examples see modest changes externally - the sheet metal is unchanged - but there are more significant updates inside, the Seat versions with new instruments and a bigger 9.2-inch infotainment touchscreen that now shows three different data sets simultaneously.

Externally you can pick the new models by their bigger grilles, different alloy options (six of), dynamic indicator lights, black and grey mirror caps and change in font for the Ateca script at the rear. A single $2100 option pack comprises park assist and adaptive cruise, top view camera and wireless phone charger. If you go for FR, don’t leave it out. Adaptive cruise can be had alone in FR4 for $400.

As mentioned, there’s now just an FR spec level for Ateca, the front-drive model with a $46,900 sticker price and the FR4 costing $52,900. Engines for the respective models remain the same, a 1.4 turbopetrol making 110kW and 250Nm mated to an eight-speed DSG, and a 2.0 unit making 140kW and 320Nm, hooked up to a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox.

We drove the FR first and the FR4 thereafter. If you’re considering these, we’d advise spending the extra on the FR4. Not only is it more effortless and grippier on the go, but mean fuel use isn’t much worse, at a claimed combined 6.9L/100km (6.2 for FR). Moreover it rides and handles better with adaptive dampers as standard, and even in Sport mode the progress is really rather easy going.

A quick sprint through the technically demanding Woodcock’s Rd into Warkworth gave a good indication of just how close this is to hot hatch dynamics, as we’ve discovered in the past with the FR4. It’s quick too, not as fast as the Cupra Ateca, now known as Ateca VZ (Veloz is Spanish for speedy) but it would give it a run for its money, both being 2.0L turbopetrols and all. Naturally the one with the copper-hued alloys (a $600 upgrade) is quicker - it takes under 5sec to hit open road speed - but it’s also a bit more locked down, though in doing that is not quite so compliant as FR4.

On the other hand, you seldom need to invoke Sport or Cupra modes, such is its heroic body control (and resulting ride comfort) in the default Normal setting. Phew but this can hustle, and with 400Nm streaming from 2000rpm, along with 221kW of power, it feels pretty effortless too. Price has risen slightly to $66,900.

This features a comprehensive safety package, including XDS torque vectoring by brake. Its standard Beats Audio set-up is excellent too, imaging like the dickens. A Brembo brake upgrade costs $4300, although the standard ones work pretty well. A panoramic sunroof adds $2300 and petrol blue leather $1550.

As to the rest of the Seat range? The Arona is no longer available with that stroppy little 1.0 turbopetrol so now just comes with the 1.6L atmo engine hooked up to a six-speed auto ($27,900 for Style) and there’s a better specified FR alternative at $31,900.

The Tarraco ‘range’ now comprises a single model, the 1.4 falling by the wayside, leaving the $64,900 FR4.

As to Leon, a stylish Sportsourer FR wagon will arrive soon, with a $44,900 price tag, and likely a 48v 110kW mild hybrid will follow in the second half of the year. Cupra will be offering both the 221kW Leon hatch ($59,900) and the 228kW Leon Sportstourer ($65,900), with the possibility of a 150kW hybrid variant down the line. Sportstourers evidently have luggage capacity of 620L before split folding.

And finally a few details on Cupra Formentor which arrives here midyear in two spec levels, V and VZ, the latter getting the 228kW turbopetrol and four exhaust outlets. The V variant uses the same powertrain as the Seat Ateca FR4, packing 140kW, with quoted fuel use of 6.5L/100km. A 150kW plug-in hybrid is a likely starter later in the year, and it should have an EV range of around 60km.

Formentor is slightly longer than Cupra Ateca by 70mm but rides lower for improved dynamics. It utilises the VW Group’s MQB Evo platform. Inside is a floating 12-inch infotainment screen and a special feature is the Petrol blue leather interior, and it will be offered in two matte colours. All models are covered by a five-year/100,000km warranty.

Finally, a new outlet is on the cards for Seat and Cupra in Hamilton, while agencies are covered further south. Exciting times for the Spanish brands then.

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