FOCUS ON: Cupra
The sporting arm of Spanish brand Seat is taking the EV lead
Cupra started life as the motorsport and high-performance arm of Volkswagen-owned Seat, before being spun-off into its own brand in 2018.
Founded in 1985 as Seat Sport, the Cupra branding is best known for the Seat Leon Cupra hot hatch model that proved popular across several generations. Cupra was also the banner of Seat’s motorsport team in the British and World Touring Car Championships, as well as a dalliance with the World Rally Championship in the late 1990s.
In some ways similar to how Volvo has morphed its Polestar brand from its motorsport and performance heritage into a stand-alone branding, Cupra was confirmed as a upmarket performance sister to Seat in early 2018.
The first model, the Cupra Ateca, was a more powerful version of the Seat Ateca. That car was available only with a petrol engine, but since then the brand has made its first moves into the plug-in world.
A PAIR OF PHEVS
✪ STAR CAR ✪
WHAT IS IT?
The first model developed for Cupra, rather than being based on a Seat. The Formentor is claimed to mix the qualities of SUV and performance cars, “incorporating one of the most advanced propulsion systems and providing the performance the Cupra badge demands, but in a sustainable manner”. As well as petrol engines, it has a plug-in hybrid powertrain of either 204hp or 245hp.
From 27g/km in the more efficient form, or 33g/km with extra power.
HOW QUICK IS IT?
The more powerful version dips under seven seconds for the 0-62mph dash, and the 204hp model does it in 7.8 seconds.still not a performance car, with a best 0-62mph time of 9.5 seconds.
WHATS THE RANGE?
It just about gets into this tax year’s 11% BiK band thanks to an official range of up to 32 miles.
IS IT TAX EFFICIENT?
Very much so. The 245hp PHEV will cost a 40% taxpayer £141 a month this tax year. Despite costing £10,000 less, the entry 150hp petrol model is an additional £178 in BiK per month.
ANYTHING ELSE I NEED TO KNOW?
The Formentor is the first Cupra to be Euro NCAP crash tested, and recently scored the maximum five stars.
The new Seat Leon rapidly gained a Cupra sister car late last year, and that model became Seat’s first plug-in hybrid with a 245hp combination of petrol and electric power offered alongside the 300hp and 310hp petrol versions. The Cupra Leon is available as a five-door hatch or estate .
Cupra’s Leon maintains its sporting position, sitting above the Seat Leon’s 204hp plug-in hybrid model, and uses a combination of 150hp 1.5-litre petrol engine and an 85kW electric motor. It offers a 37-mile EV-only range, putting it in the 11% company car Benefit-in-Kind tax band for 2021/22. It also manages a 7.0-second 0-62mph acceleration time. Emissions start at 30g/km while the e-hybrid’s pricing kicks off at £36,675 for the hatch, or an extra £1425 for the estate.
Next up is the first stand-alone Cupra not based on an existing Seat – the new Formentor. It’s a crossover-SUV that’s longer but lower than its Ateca stablemate,and gets powertrains already seen in the Leon, which means a 204hp or 245hp plug-in hybrid alongside the petrol engines that range from 150hp to more than double that (see panel, right).
NEXT: FULL ELECTRIC
Cupra will beat Seat to a full electric model, with the Born model arriving early next year (see below). And looking further ahead, bosses recently confirmed that a production version of the Tavascan SUV-coupe model will be built, arriving in the next three or four years. Seat is also set to build a new “urban electric” model in 2025, although it hasn’t yet confirmed which brands will be getting the car which will have a production plan of 500,000 vehicles a year.
Originally revealed as a Seat, the El-Born concept car will instead be badged with the Cupra nameplate when it hits the UK at the beginning of 2022. Indeed, it will be named Cupra Born.
The Cupra Born will be the brand’s first full electric vehicle, and will feature a range of over 300 miles from its 77kWh battery. If suitably powerful charging points can be found, the Born is claimed to be capable of adding more than 160 miles of range in half an hour.
Pricing is still to be announced, but the Born will be well kitted out,including an augmented-reality head-up display, sports bucket seats and full connectivity.