There is very little that enlivens the senses and instils that summer feeling more than sunscreen and in particular, Coppertone. With its blend of cocoa butter and tropical fruits, Coppertone has for over 65 years, been synonymous with summer fun and rarely ever fails to put a smile on your face. But thanks to Cupra New Zealand, I’ve found another product that’s also associated with a sunny climate, has copper highlights and a ‘tone’ that’s smile worthy. It’s called the Cupra Ateca LE and just like summer it’s only here for a limited time.
Cupra, or Cup-Racing, is the performance arm of sunny-Spanish car brand SEAT. The Cupra brand itself arrived ‘fashionably-late’ in the grand scheme of car things, however, the SEAT brand has a trophy cabinet that’s full of awards and podium finishes that dates back well over half a century, so its racing pedigree is sound.
In fact, the SEAT brand is sound too. For although the SEAT brand maintains its Spanish roots both is terms of style and excitement, since VAG (Volkswagen Audi Group) became the majority shareholder for the company in late 1990, it’s enabled the flamboyant brand to underpin their range with the same core components that are found across the the VAG line-up, so German engineered with Spanish flair, I digress.
A while ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing the SEAT Ateca, a cool and funky 5-seater SUV that looks good and drives even better, however, when their Cupra division got involved, things really heated up. The Cupra Ateca has a 2L turbo-charged engine that produces 221kW and 400Nm and what this means is that it takes this normally mild-mannered, yet expressive SUV from 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds AND up to a top speed of 245km/h, its both mad and yet awesome. But it’s not all mouth and no trousers, it’s great in the curves too with AWD, dynamic chassis control, Cupra sport suspension and a Cupra Drive Profile that adjusts steering response, throttle response, gear shifts and suspension – phew!
Anyway, as if all the above wasn’t good (fun) enough, the exclusive Cupra Ateca LE pushes the boundaries on this performance SUV out even further. When they say limited edition, they mean it, only 1999 have been made globally and just five, yes five have made it all the way to New Zealand.
Even from a distance, the differences are easy to spot. First and foremost, the exclusive colour. Graphene (a form of carbon) Grey is both understated and yet eye catching, it stands out from the norm and offers an amazing backdrop for the copper and carbon fibre accents that underscore the essence of the performance brand.
The 20-inch wheels are exclusive too, they come with a machined copper alloy finish that really turns heads, while behind them are 18-inch Brembo brakes, designed to stop this performance SUV on a dime.
Look a little closer and you see the copper carbon fibre roof spoiler and mirror covers, a nice touch plus the rear lettering is in copper and of course so are the Cupra logos that to me look like an angry bull or something off of the movie Predator.
At the very rear are the quad exhaust tips that belong to the Akrapovic exhaust system, don’t worry, I had to look it up too. Slovenian brand Akrapovič is a world renowned manufacturer of premium exhaust systems for motorcycles and performance cars. Their exhaust systems excel in improved performance, unmistakable sound, innovative design, light construction, craftsmanship, and durability, and it is standard on the LE. The result is very noticeable both in terms of performance and tone, seriously, hold this LE’s revs in ‘launch control’ and giggle like a schoolgirl – oh then hold on as you lift off.
Despite the Cupra’s interior already boasting the latest tech, including an 8-inch colour infotainment screen and 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster (with ALL the bells and whistles), the LE has comfy and supportive petrol blue Alcantara seats with Cupra embossed headrests, copper stitching throughout and extra cool copper carbon fibre mouldings and accents, you really are seated (SEATed) in something rather special.
On the twists and turns of my favourite ‘test road’ the Cupra LE was more than comfortable, the 10mm of wider track added to the performance SUV’s already well-planted feeling and it picked up speed out of the bends well. On the straights, it races along at speeds that it shouldn’t with only a hint of turbo lag when you’re too enthusiastic on the accelerator (even big turbo’s have their limitations). Then there’s the joy of slowing down, not only is it fun to step down the 7-speed DSG gears using paddles, but the rev matching and crackle from the Slovanian exhaust is an audible delight.
What Cupra has done with this LE Ateca has merged what’s best in European motoring with a high-performance brand that personifies exclusivity, it’s a thrilling, race inspired ride that is bizarrely affordable – be quick, Cupra New Zealand may not have any left.