Cupra Ateca long-term test review
Cupra is a new brand and the Ateca its first model, yet it's already our favourite sports SUV. How will it fare as family transport? We have four months to find out...
The car Cupra Ateca 300 Run by Alastair Clements, special contributor
Why it’s here The Ateca is leading the new wave of sports SUVs that are taking the fight to the traditional hot hatch, so we’re keen to find out how it fares in a long-term relationship
Needs to Lay the groundwork for the new Cupra brand with thrilling performance while retaining the qualities of a practical SUV
Price £35,900 Price as tested £37,830 Miles covered 4339 Official economy 38.2mpg Test economy 24.0mpg Options fitted Comfort and sound pack (£1930)
11 April 2019 – The great all-rounder
It’s all well and good a 'sports SUV’ being very fast, but if it doesn’t cut it as an SUV, it’s all for nothing. Happily, though, the Cupra Ateca is proving to be remarkably good at the multi-tasking that makes this class of vehicle so popular among families.
It handles the daily grind in surprising comfort for a supposedly hardcore sporting machine, and it passed the all-important Ikea test with ease, thanks to its generously deep boot and a ski flap in the rear seat bench, which is ideal for those longer flat-pack boxes.
I even did a bit of off-roading in it – well, driving off metalled roads at least – when collecting my eldest from an Outward Bound course deep in the Surrey countryside. Although it was a limited test for the sophisticated four-wheel drive system, the Ateca's generous ground clearance and remarkably supple ride dealt well with the mud and deep ruts – which left it with a suitably tough-looking coat of warpaint.
The longer I spend with the Ateca, the more I wonder whether, being the first car for a new brand, it's being sold as a loss-leader. Although it’s hard to call a £35,000 car a bargain, it does seem to be remarkably good value when you take into account how well equipped it is (my kids like the ‘Batmobile’ door mirror-mounted puddle lights in particular) and how superbly screwed together it feels. And as well as the lovely interior fit and finish, the suspension is as sophisticated and well-damped as you would expect of much costlier cars from the Volkswagen empire.
There are drawbacks, however, key among them being the fuel consumption – but then it does depend entirely on where you drive. If, like me, you spend a lot of time in urban traffic, it hurts, with 20-26mpg being the norm, but on rural routes and motorways, things get a lot easier. A colleague managed a 40.3mpg average by nursemaiding the Ateca around the M25 recently, and the overall figure is creeping up as the car begins to do more longer trips.
Overall, though, it’s the Ateca’s multi-layered personality that makes it such a rewarding car to live with, as thrown into sharp focus by a recent weekend away. Family, dog and all of the associated detritus was easily swallowed up, then a fast 300-mile motorway run was dispatched in complete comfort, leaving me fresh enough to enjoy the car's naughtier side on the fantastic twisting coastal route that made up the final 20 miles to our destination.