Cupra’s performance SUV gets mid-life tweaks but is it now outshone by the newer Formentor?
Yesterday’s news, if we’re being a bit flippant. Cupra has a brand-new debutant being promoted from the rafters: the Formentor. It’s a significant milestone for the Spanish performance marque as its first bespoke product designed separately from its Seat close relation. The Formentor is also significant in this context because it’s an SUV, and one of broadly (but not exactly) similar size to the first model launched with only Cupra badges: the Ateca. So why, you might ask, does a sub-brand turned brand in its own right dedicate two-thirds of its model range to effectively the same class of car? There are two trains of thought. The first is that whatever Cupra sells – and it must sell, because few brands have the cash for vanity projects nowadays – has to be a desired product not just for most of Europe, but now new markets such as Mexico, and likely others. Given Cupra’s positioning, that means sporty SUVs, and two spun off the same platform is better than one. The second is that the Ateca itself has kind of done its job of establishing Cupra in its two years on sale. Along with the Leon, which for some reason kept its Seat badging until the new model recently arrived, Cupra clocked up nearly 25,000 sales last year. But for the brand to really succeed on its own, like DS has for Citroën, it must gradually move away from rebadged, steroid-injected Seats. So with the Formentor around, is there any real reason to buy the Ateca? Clearly, Cupra thinks so, having facelifted the latter, which we’re driving for the first time.