Wait, What the Hell is a Cupra?
Great news! Volkswagen Group is exploring bringing the sporty Cupra brand—which currently includes the Born, Formenter, Leon, and Ateca—to North America. At least according to a recent report out of Australia. Your first question is probably, “Wait—what the hell is a Cupra?” You wouldn’t be alone. Even car enthusiasts savvy enough to have an inkling are probably thinking, “Cupra is a brand? I thought it was a model of SEAT!”
So, a little background, first. SEAT is, indeed, a brand that still exists. Part of the Volkswagen empire since the 1980s, its cars have mainly been sporty variants of Volkswagen models, a little like Skoda, but with more focus on performance. Cupra was initially a performance variant of existing models, like the Ibiza or Leon—think Golf GTI. Apparently there was enough oomph behind the Cupra variants to create a proper sub-brand. Enter Cupra in 2018, complete with standalone models not shared with the broader SEAT range.
The current range of Cupra models is smallish, in terms of models offered and their overall size. The Cupra Born is a small EV related to the ID3, the Cupra Leon is related to the latest Golf, the Ateca is similar to the Taos, and the Formentor is basically a coupe-like Ateca model.
So where do we come in? Volkswagen is thinking about the EV transition in terms of new brands to convey different buyer interests. Think about the nascent Scout brand, which will give the EV space competitors (in theory) to the Ford Bronco and Jeep Gladiator. Cupra could, theoretically, become an outlet for sport-oriented EVs in a way that Volkswagen’s cuddlier ID line won’t. See also Volvo spin-off Polestar as a possible model for Cupra.
The news comes by way of Australia, as Drive reports that Cupra’s global boss Wayne Griffiths told media in Sydney that the brand was eyeing bigger fish. Australia, Griffiths said, was a test case for expanding to North America at a later date. These plans are, reportedly, not imminent. One can infer that they’ll see how the brand’s launch in Australia this year will be something of a test case.
It’s early days yet and perhaps Griffiths is overly optimistic about how far Cupra can expand. But in a world in which Scout is back as a Volkswagen-owned EV brand, anything is possible.
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