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CUPRA is one of the most recent brands to land in Australia.  This is an exciting brand with loads of performance and new technology.  CUPRA has been developed from out of the SEAT brand.  SEAT (Sociedad Espanola de Automoviles de Turismo) was founded in 1950 and is Spain’s most successful car manufacturer.

SEAT began to design and build their own cars, however they soon switched to build Fiat and VW cars under license.  In 1980 Fiat ended their agreement, so SEAT had to develop their own new car.  SEAT engineers came up with the SEAT Ibiza Hatch and the SEAT Malaga Notchback.  The small engines that these cars used were designed by Porsche.

The Malaga and Ibiza made a good impression and were both competitive with all the mainstream cars that were coming out of Europe.  At the time, these little cars were just as well made, but they were cheaper to buy.  This was recognized by Volkswagen (VW) who, at the time, were looking to expand their capacity into lower-cost areas.  In 1986, VW bought 75% of SEAT.  Then in 1991, VW took full control over SEAT.  VW’s 100% takeover initially led to SEAT building all of VW’s Polo cars, but it also ensured that a new generation of SEAT cars were born using proven VW parts.

So, where did the name CUPRA come from?  Take a look at the name CUPRA: Breaking the name down – CUP stands for Cup and RA stands for Racing.  So, CUPRA stands for Cup Racing, which relates back to the brand’s very successful motorsport background.  SEAT enjoyed a lot of success with the SEAT Ibiza CUPRA.  Competing in the FIA World Cup 2.0 litre class, they took victory in 1996, 1997, and 1998.  Originally branded as SEAT Sport, the brand competed in Rally and touring car championships.  Currently, CUPRA is competing in Extreme E, the all-electric rally racing series (more on their racing car below).

VW owns and produces a number of mainstream brands now.  Audi and Porsche, Skoda and VW, and SEAT come to mind.  Because SEAT has such a rich motorsport heritage, their CUPRA cars reflect this racing pedigree, and thus are fun and exciting to drive.  While SEAT is now a slice of the Volkswagen Group and many of SEAT and CUPRA car parts are shared between brands, the Spanish alternative has a flair that generally appeals to younger generations, as well as the older buyer who is young at heart.  SEAT announced its CUPRA offshoot brand in 2018.  The sole purpose of the new CUPRA brand was to increase sales among performance-focused buyers.

CUPRA headquarters is located in Martorell, Spain.  SEAT has occupied this site since 1993.  These headquarters are also home to CUPRA Racing, which is CUPRA’s high-performance motorsport division.  CUPRA is SEAT’s equivalent of BMW M cars, Mercedes AMG cars, and Audi’s RS models.

Before diverging into two brands, SEAT had long used the CUPRA name to signify the sport and performance-focused models in their line-up.  For example, the first road going model to gain the CUPRA name was the 1996 SEAT Ibiza GTI CUPRA Sport 16V.  The last SEAT car to display CUPRA in its model name is the 2018 SEAT Leon CUPRA R ST.  Now, SEAT’s high performance models are branded with FR (Formula Racing) instead.

CUPRA was born in 2018, and the CUPRA Ateca was the first CUPRA model to be released.  It is based on the SEAT Ateca, but the the CUPRA Ateca has an enhanced design, more style, increased levels of technology, and more performance.

Since then, the Ateca has been joined by the CUPRA Leon and the CUPRA Formentor.

Like with most other car manufacturers, electric vehicles are a growing part of CUPRA’s transport plan for the future.  The CUPRA Tavascan is a concept car that uses an all-electric powertrain that has been developed in CUPRA’s e-Racer.  What a sleek performance body shape this neat looking SUV design has!  CUPRA claims the Tavascan’s body shape is very efficient at slipping through the air, thus keeping drag to a minimum and maximizing the battery range.  Equipped with a 77 kWh lithium-ion battery, the concept vehicle can travel up to 450 km before requiring a charge.

CUPRA developed the e-Racer to compete in the FIA Pure ETCR championship – an electric touring car world cup series. The CUPRA e-Racer is heavily based on the Leon hatchback and is powered by four electric motors, produces 500 kW and takes around 3 seconds to get from 0-100 km/, 8.2 seconds to get to 200 km/h, and has a top speed of around 270 km/h.

Take a look at the current CUPRA models, which you’ll find in the car review pages.