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Expert Review

CUPRA Ateca (2020 - ) review

The car that launched Cupra as a standalone brand is getting on a little but still a great mix of performance and practicality

Dan Trent

Words by: Dan Trent

Published on 10 June 2024 | 0 min read

The Auto Trader expert verdict:

4

Available new from £36,480

A high-performance twist on the regular (and still very good) Seat Ateca, the Cupra version has much of the same practical appeal but a lot more attitude thanks to a range of unique styling features and more powerful engines. True, the Ateca is showing its age in the fact none of them get any hybrid assistance and running costs will be higher than average as a result. But if you still want a Cupra and need a bit of electrification in your live you can go hybrid with the Formentor or fully electric with the Born. Updated with fresh tech in 2020, the Cupra Ateca has also gained additional engines with slightly less power but more reasonable running costs, meaning you can enjoy the Cupra Ateca’s spirit without necessarily breaking the bank

Reasons to buy:

  • tickRelatively understated looks
  • tickSmall on the outside, big on the inside
  • tickBang for buck

At a glance:

2020 Cupra Ateca

Running costs for a CUPRA Ateca

It takes a committed petrolhead to now buy one without so much as a hint of fuel- and money-saving hybrid assistance
With all the incentives encouraging buyers into part- or fully-electrified cars it takes a committed petrolhead to now buy one without so much as a hint of fuel- and money-saving hybrid assistance. Good news? So long as you’re buying on your own money rather than as a company car and don’t mind the frequent trips to the pumps the Cupra Ateca gives you quite a bit for the money. Additional engines – a new 1.5-litre and less powerful version of the flagship 2.0-litre – also help the cause, meaning you can have a Cupra Ateca without tipping over the £40,000 threshold for punitive ‘premium car’ VED/road tax rates. Be under no illusions, though – for all its attractions a Cupra Ateca is not going to be a cheap car to run.
Expert rating: 2/5
2020 Cupra Ateca

Reliability of a CUPRA Ateca

All new Cupras are now covered by a five-year warranty, which is a significant step up from the three-year cover of before
One of the advantages of the Ateca’s relative age is that any common issues will have come to light by now, and most of the faults listed in reliability surveys relate to the cars built before this 2020 model year update. In even better news all new Cupras are now covered by a five-year warranty, which is a significant step up from the three-year cover of before and puts the brand ahead of its VW group relatives.
Expert rating: 4/5
2020 Cupra Ateca

Safety for a CUPRA Ateca

Copper-coloured Brembo calipers on our top-of-the-range test car are designer-label kit the proper petrolheads will appreciate
Just like the regular Seat version of the Ateca the relative age of the car means a lack of some of the driver aids seen in newer rivals. We’ll actually call that a blessing of sorts, on the basis more annoying ones like lane-keeping tweaks to the steering are only on fancier trim levels with the Safe and Driving Pack. And the important stuff like airbags, automated emergency braking, tyre pressure monitoring and Isofix mounts on the outer two rear seats are all present and correct. If brakes count as safety equipment the upgraded copper-coloured Brembo calipers on our top-of-the-range test car are designer-label kit the proper petrolheads will appreciate.
Expert rating: 3/5
2020 Cupra Ateca

How comfortable is the CUPRA Ateca

The stiff suspension required to make it handle like a hot hatch in the bends can give you a beating on lumpy urban roads
Like the regular Ateca the Cupra version is a fantastically useful size and shape, which is to say relatively compact on the road but surprisingly spacious inside with family-friendly leg- and headroom in the back and a huge boot. The extra height in the crossover stance and good visibility all help your confidence in stressful situations like narrow streets and tight car parks as well. For a car of this type it’s also surprisingly light, to the benefit of handling and living up to Cupra’s sporty image. This isn’t without compromises, though, and the stiff suspension required to make it handle like a hot hatch in the bends can give you a beating on lumpy urban roads. Versions with the 300 horsepower engine benefit from adjustable suspension you can tweak to your tastes, but it’s still on the harsh side in all of them. Great if you want to enjoy that performance to the full. But if you’re buying an Ateca as a family car the standard Seat version is probably more of an all-rounder.
Expert rating: 3/5
2020 Cupra Ateca

Features of the CUPRA Ateca

It still has proper physical controls for heating, infotainment and the like that you can safely operate without having to take your eyes off the road
The Ateca’s interior older than that of other Cupras like the Formentor and Leon but that’s actually no bad thing, given it still has proper physical controls for heating, infotainment and the like that you can safely operate without having to take your eyes off the road to use the screen or touch-sensitive surfaces. Bravo for that. It still has the tech as well, this updated model getting a bigger central screen along with the existing digital instrument cluster. The operating system behind it is, again, older than that in other Cupras but arguably works better thanks to its crisp graphics and logical menus. You can of course pair your phone and go through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto if you prefer. In terms of differences over the original Cupra Ateca this one gets different bumpers, neat contrasting grey trim parts on the exterior. All Cupra Atecas get sportier seats than regular Seat versions, the trim getting progressively fancier as you go up the range with increasing amounts of the brand’s signature copper-coloured embellishments. No bad thing, given it looks both classy and distinctive.
Expert rating: 4/5
2020 Cupra Ateca

Power for a CUPRA Ateca

It’s still a powerful engine and works well with the automatic transmission and clever all-wheel drive system for strong performance in all weathers
The 300 horsepower 2.0-litre petrol engine of our test car was, for a long time, your only option for the Cupra Ateca, underlining the brand’s cred as a sportier alternative to regular Seats. In an age of fast-accelerating electric cars it’s perhaps not as rapid as it once was, but it’s still a powerful engine and works well with the automatic transmission and clever all-wheel drive system for strong performance in all weathers. A selection of driver modes, including a customisable one, offer further tweakability. More recently Cupra has added a couple of other engine options to help make the Ateca’s purchase and running costs more palatable, these including a slightly less powerful version of the 2.0-litre and a 1.5-litre option driving the front wheels only. These slightly blur the previously clear distinction between the Seat version of the car and the Cupra one but are well proven and, on previous experience with the regular Ateca, well-matched to the car if you like the sportier image but don’t need the power.
Expert rating: 4/5