Promoted | CUPRA Ateca: the peak of performance

We wanted to give CUPRA’s first performance SUV the ultimate driving test. So, there was only one place to go: the stunning Scottish Highlands...

The Scottish Highlands provided the perfect backdrop and demanding roads for the CUPRA Ateca

In order to really experience the style and drama of a pace-setting performance SUV, you have to head to Scotland. With majestically twisting mountain roads that arc and soar their way into the sky, there’s no better backdrop – and no tougher test of power, acceleration and cornering grip.

That’s why we took the new CUPRA Ateca (which we recently named the best performance SUV you can buy right now) to the north-west Highlands. Our aim: to conquer one of the UK’s most intoxicating and thrilling roads – the Applecross Pass.

But we weren’t alone. As our destination is one of the toughest and most challenging climbs in the UK, we were joined by a pro cyclist. Our quest: to prove that mountain-scaling performance is all about man and machine, working in perfect harmony.

To learn more about the new CUPRA Ateca, head to

A distinctive sense of sporting style

Think CUPRA, and you immediately think performance. Born from SEAT’s hugely successful racing division, this new brand is defined as much by its legacy for track-bred substance as it is by CUPRA’s distinctive modern premium style.

Underneath its muscular skin – with a honeycomb grille, gloss black detailing, 19-inch diamond-cut alloys, and that attention-grabbing CUPRA logo – the CUPRA Ateca was engineered to deliver where it counts, making it perfect for a challenging road such as the Applecross Pass.

Built in 1822, and styled like the roads of the European Alps, the gradient on the Applecross Pass can be as much as 20% as it climbs its way to a 2,054ft summit. On a damp day like this, the asphalt surface – designed more for winter endurance than outright grip or smooth comfort – can also prove challenging.

A cosseting premium interior

Easing into the CUPRA Ateca with keyless entry, it feels incredibly premium and refined, without ever losing that sense of performance drama, with Alcantara® trim, copper stitching and gloss black and carbon-fibre-effect surfacing offering a compelling blend of textures as we settle into the cosseting sports seats.

It’s the perfect cocoon from the grim weather outside, and we pity the cyclist struggling to clip into their pedals, before settling on that hard, bony racing seat.

A large crisp high-res digital cockpit display sits directly in our eyeline and works with the 8-inch central touchscreen to let us customise our view – whether it’s the 3D navigation essential for tackling remote mountain roads like these, media from a compatible Apple CarPlay or Android Auto phone, or something more performance-focused, such as a prominent rev counter, oil temperature and G-forces.

It’s time to shrug off the fact that the CUPRA Ateca’s LED headlights are arcing our route through the gloom ahead. Instead, we place a foot on the aluminium pedal, grasp the leather steering wheel and click the shift paddle to start our ascent.

Performance where it matters

The first hundred yards disappear in a blur. The CUPRA Ateca’s advanced 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine delivers 300PS and 400Nm through a seven-speed DSG that has been engineered to be faster, smoother and sportier with more precise shifts.

Equally, 4Drive (all-wheel-drive) delivers improved confidence and traction by analysing the road in real-time and diverting power to the wheels that need it most. Add in launch control, and the CUPRA Ateca can get from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds – eating climbs like this for breakfast (and leaving our panting cyclist in our wake).

Independent front suspension with MacPherson struts and multi-link rear suspension works with adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control to improve cornering grip and response – all creating an intuitive link between driver and road.

Equally, six driving modes – ranging from Comfort, Sport, Snow, and Off-Road to the customisable Individual and performance-focused CUPRA mode – let us choose the personality of the CUPRA Ateca to match the conditions and our mood. Suffice to say, we resolutely stuck the dial in CUPRA mode for our climb up the pass.

Reaching the peak of performance

As the sweeping turns tighten into steep hairpins, large 340mm Brembo brakes at the front and 310mm discs at the back offer powerfully accurate stopping power. Add in the sporty rumble echoing off the cliffs from the quad exhausts – sitting either side of that large rear diffuser – and it all makes for an intoxicating driving experience.

With a wealth of driving aids – such as city emergency braking, lane assist, blind-spot detection and rear-cross traffic alert – the CUPRA Ateca is as comfortable and relaxing to drive on the open road and in the city as it is thrilling to conquer this exposed peak. But technology still helps here. At the top of the pass, we use hill-hold control and the 360-degree top-down parking camera with Park Assist to find a suitable slot to wait for our two-wheeled colleague.

On his arrival, a simple touch of the electric tailgate gives us access to the 485-litre boot, and the cyclist can join us in the warming comfort of the CUPRA for the trip back down the Applecross Pass. If we’ve learned one thing from our ascent of one of Scotland’s most challenging roads, the cyclist’s journey down in the CUPRA Ateca will certainly be far more enjoyable – and thrilling – than his journey up.

To learn more about the new CUPRA Ateca, head to

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