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 5405 Official economy 38.2mpg Test economy 26.2mpg Options fitted Comfort and Sound Pack (£1930) Contract hire £355 Insurance group 33 Typical insurance quote £865
3 May 2019 – Cross-country runner
There can be few ways to better get to know a new car than a week-long, 1000-mile tour of South Wales and the West Country – complete with partner, kids, dog and far too much luggage.
So, what have I learned? Even fully laden, the Cupra has the ability to be genuinely thrilling on the right road, and happily the Gower Peninsula has plenty of those.
It’s perhaps more surprising that it makes such a comfortable motorway car, but here I have the clever adaptive dampers to thank. Around town, it can get tooth-rattling in anything other than Comfort mode, but a quick turn of the control dial between the seats to Sport really helps keep the car feeling taut on A-roads and roundabouts, preventing the excessive body roll – and resulting seasickness – you expect from a tall SUV. It also puts the engine in the right state of tune to take off as if it’s been drop-kicked by Johnny Wilkinson on corner exits, too.
The Off-road setting is useful for toning down the engine on farm tracks, but I’ve yet to find much use for Cupra mode. It’s far too extreme for the road; I clearly need to find an excuse to take it on a circuit…
Finding space for all our kit required some creative packing without a roofbox – something I was keen to avoid, fearing it might worsen the already hefty fuel thirst. In the end, though, consumption wasn’t as bad as I’d expected, averaging more than 30mpg on a mixture of roads – and lifting the overall average for my time with the Ateca.
That packing would have been easier, and life in the shadow of the wall of bags a little less claw-biting for Dennis the dog, had the boot been better served by luggage hooks. In the end, a Heath Robinson arrangement of bungee cords kept our kit in place.
Another storage frustration is the cupholders; two are provided up front, but they overlap, making it all but impossible to house two drinks and still have easy access to them. Hardly a life-threatening issue, but irritating nonetheless, particularly on a long drive.