MADRID – In a few weeks Spanish automaker SEAT officially will launch Cupra as an independent brand, and the Volkswagen subsidiary already has booked it for next month’s Geneva auto show.
Until now, the name Cupra has been used for the SEAT Leon range’s three sporty variants – 3-door, 5-door and ST. The Leon Cupra’s success has compelled SEAT to establish the Cupra as a standalone brand.
One of the new models could be based on the SEAT Ibiza body but powered by the same 2.0L, 200-hp engine VW uses in its Polo GTI model. Some analysts, however, suggest the first genuine Cupra model could be an SUV.
Speculation about how SEAT will manage the Cupra brand extends to its logo. The automaker has made public three different logos – one in black and white and two in copper and bronze on the same dark-blue background.
Meanwhile, SEAT confirms its plant in Martorell, Spain, will not build the current generation of the SEAT Ateca midsize SUV. Instead, it will be produced in the plant VW affiliate Skoda operates in Kvasiny, Czech Republic, where the Superb sedan and Kodiaq and Karoq SUVs are assembled.
With the Kvasiny plant near its maximum yearly capacity of 295,000 units, Spanish unions had speculated the Ateca would be awarded to Martorell. But Skoda has said it will find a way to produce 80,000 units per year of the Ateca in Kvasiny and export some of them to Spain.
In its fifth consecutive year of growth and best result since 2001, SEAT sold 468,400 vehicles in 2017, 14.6% more than in 2016. It is forecasted to increase that figure in 2018 thanks to the small Arona SUV and the arrival of the still-unnamed 7-seat SUV made in Germany by VW.
Germany repeated in 2017 as SEAT’s largest market with a record 102,100 units sold, up 13.4% from prior-year. Spain remained in second place with 95,100 units, up 23.1% from 2016.
“The goal for 2018 is to be leaders in the Spanish market, overtaking Renault, which was the leader in the last two years,” says Mikel Palomera, head of SEAT for the Spanish market.
The U.K. was SEAT’s third-largest market in 2017 with 56,200 deliveries, up 18.3% from year-ago. In fourth place was Mexico with 24,700 sales, up 0.7%, followed by France with 24,200, up 15.6%.
The Leon range continued to be SEAT’s top seller last year with 170,000 units, up 2.9% from 2016. Ateca recorded 78,700 sales in its first full year on the market.