What's Cupra? Here's what the brand makes now, and what could come to America


With VW’s announcement that its Cupra subsidiary will be hitting the U.S. by the end of this decade, we thought it was a good time to take a little look at the brand that not many Americans may be familiar with. And while it doesn’t have any history in America, as a standalone brand Cupra’s history is pretty short in Europe, too. It launched in 2018, and the brand has its origins as the performance line of Spanish SEAT, which was yet another VW subsidiary. But its focus on performance remains, even as its own brand. Its lineup is a bit unusual, though, as it has its own Cupra models, but also still has high-performance variants of the SEAT line.

Cupra LeonCupra Ateca

And that brings us neatly to the next question, which is: What exactly does Cupra sell? The current lineup has five main models, two of which are variants of SEATs, and the rest are unique to Cupra. Among those SEATs are the Leon (and the wagon version), as well as the Ateca. The Leon is basically SEAT’s and Cupra’s version of the VW Golf, whereas the Ateca is their VW Tiguan, with each using the same platform and powertrains as the VWs.

Cupra Formentor

As for the Cupra-only models, the first to launch was the Formentor. It’s also on the same sort of MQB architecture used by Tiguan, but has much curvier and aggressive styling that further differentiates it from both the Ateca and the VW. While also featuring internal combustion engines like the Ateca, the Formentor (and the Leon for that matter) also has hybrid powertrains available.

Cupra Born

The next Cupra-only car to launch was the Born. This is based on, and even significantly resembles, the VW ID.3 EV. It’s mainly distinguished by the pointy, scowl-y nose, side skirts, a rear diffuser and somewhat different interior. It does offer more power than the ID.3, featuring 223 horsepower from its rear-mounted motor to the ID.3’s 201.

Rounding out the lineup is the latest Cupra, which is another EV, the Tavascan (shown at top and below). Larger than the Born, it’s a Cupra variant of the VW ID.4 and ID.5. It’s more akin to the ID.5 with its fastback roofline. But with much more aggressive curves, a more prominent rear spoiler, and flashy lights with triangular accents, it stands out much more from its VW cousins than the Born does. It’s available in two powertrain variants, the single rear-motor with 281 horsepower and the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive one with 335 horsepower. That means it makes the same amount of power as the VWs.

Cupra Tavascan

So, will any of these make it to the U.S.? VW and Cupra said that it would be entering the U.S. market with a pair of electric crossovers. That immediately rules out the SEAT-based models and the Formentor, at least in their current iterations. That leaves the Born and the Tavascan. The Born seems pretty unlikely, since VW doesn’t even sell the ID.3 in America, and there have been no signs of that changing. The Tavascan, though, being based on the ID.4, seems possible. Certifying it wouldn’t be difficult, and there might be even be the possibility of building some of them at VW’s ID.4 plant in Tennessee to be eligible for some tax credits. And while it’s a fastback version, it is a crossover of sorts, and would likely stand out the most from VW’s many other U.S. offerings.

That’s only one model, which means there would be another slot to fill. We think the most likely choice for this is some Cupra model that hasn’t launched yet. We could see it being something larger than the Tavascan, maybe with more power, too. We’ll simply have to wait for a few years to find out if our predictions are right and what other details the brand has to announce.



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