CUPRA became SEAT's sports-oriented sub-brand, and the Ateca was its first product with specific badges on it. The Ateca name, though, came from its non-sporty sibling.
SEAT was Volkswagen's Spanish brand, and these vehicles shared their underpinnings. As a result, Cupra had the same parts as its German sibling but tuned for a sportier ride. The Ateca, for instance, was built on the same MQB A-1 platform used by the Jetta or the Tiguan. Still, there was a different approach for the Spanish sporty compact crossover/SUV.
One of the most significant differences between the CUPRA and the SEAT was the design. While both vehicles had similar body panels, their bumpers were different. As a result, the CUPRA Ateca had a broad trapezoidal-shaped grille on the air dam adorned with a hexagon-shaped mesh grille. In addition, the automaker installed a pair of side scoops that were actually fake. From its profile, it was clearly a SEAT Ateca, and that included the wider wheel fenders and the side sills. Still, it had an elegant yet sporty look, mostly thanks to the lower ground clearance than on the regular Ateca or the Tiguan. At the back, on the other hand, it had four exhausts, and its non-sporty sibling couldn't afford that. To further emphasize the brand's name, the unusual-looking badge of the vehicle was complemented on the tailgate by the brand name.
Inside, it was roomy enough to carry five adult-sized passengers. At the front, CUPRA installed high-bolstered seats, which was unusual for an SUV. Still, this version of the Ateca was not exactly the mundane vehicle good for school runs and weekly shopping, even though it could successfully do that. But the dashboard was too bland for a sporty vehicle. It was covered with the same budget-friendly materials as the regular Ateca. Inside the instrument cluster, the automaker put a 10” digital display that could show the dials and information from the navigation system. On the center stack, the car manufacturer installed a touchscreen for the infotainment system, while the center console housed the gear selector for the automatic transmission and six buttons for driving programs. Last but not least, the driver was spoiled with a set of aluminum pedals. In the back, the split-folding bench seat could accommodate three people, and it could also expand the trunk when it was folded down.
But the most significant difference from the SEAT Ateca was under the hood, where the automaker got a punchy two-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, which was also available on Tiguan R. It was mated to a seven-speed automatic (dual-clutch) gearbox that sent the power in all corners. Thanks to the stiffened suspension, the lower ground clearance, and the wider tires, the CUPRA Ateca was mostly an alternative to hot hatches rather than a sporty SUV.