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Cupra reveals three-model Australian range for 2022

VW Group’s Spanish performance brand to span $40-60K in Oz with hybrid-heavy line-up

24 Jun 2021

CUPRA Australia has revealed the three-model line-up that will launch the brand in Australia in the second quarter of 2022, consisting of two performance SUVs and a hot hatch, sold primarily through a digital-first, agency-style distribution model.


Kicking off with the Leon hatch, the Ateca medium SUV and the Formentor crossover SUV, Australia will be the first market where Cupra – the performance offshoot of the Volkswagen Group’s Spanish arm, Seat – will operate exclusively as a performance brand, under the stewardship of Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA).


Offering electrification from launch, Cupra will be positioned as a progressive performance brand occupying a space between mainstream and premium, spanning a price range “just north of $40,000” to “just above $60,000”, according to Cupra Australia executives.


Speaking to Australian motoring media, Cupra brand director Ben Wilks described this positioning as “the space where customers are seeking something a little bit different, where performance and feeling count, where design and details are perhaps a little bit more relevant than history and pretence”.


Cupra also plans to underpin this brand positioning with a unique distribution strategy. “We’re going to be partnering with our network as an agency model – so an exclusive Cupra network in terms of sales, and partnering also with Volkswagen Group across the network in terms of service, and with dedicated team members known as the Cupra Masters,” said Mr Wilks.


This means a predominantly digital strategy with around 10-20 dedicated Cupra ‘outlets’ – in the brand’s words “not necessarily a traditional dealership model” – across yet-to-be-decided locations that may include retail strips and shopping malls.


The ‘Cupra Master’ will be a single point of contact for each individual customer, from initial enquiry through to aftersales.


As for sales expectations or targets for Australia, Mr Wilks pointed out that Cupra “doesn’t want to be too shy or retiring.”


“I think the scale of what we’ve spoken about – so between 10 and 20 dealers, and a range of nine different variations in terms of driveline, plug-in hybrids, three different models, two of them SUVs – probably gives you an indication,” he said.


The Australian Cupra range will be headlined by the Formentor SUV, a bespoke model designed specifically for Cupra that’s part hot-hatch-on-stilts, part coupe-style SUV.


Based on VW Group’s MQB Evo platform, the Formentor shares its 2680mm wheelbase with the Volkswagen Tiguan but is stylistically on another planet from its buttoned-up German cousin.


Sporting trademark copper highlights and distinctive flared bodywork, the Formentor is 60mm shorter than a Tiguan and will be offered here with four powertrains.


Starting with an all-wheel-drive 140kW Formentor 2.0 TSI 4Drive, there will also be a front-drive Formentor VZ (for ‘Veloz’, meaning ‘quick’ or ‘fast’ in Spanish) 2.0 TSI with 180kW.


The range-topping all-wheel-drive version – the Formentor VZ 2.0 TSI 4Drive – amps engine outputs to 228kW/400Nm and features quad exhaust pipes, Brembo brakes and a claimed 0-100km/h time of 4.9 seconds.


The Formentor’s electrification option will be the front-drive VZ e-Hybrid plug-in, featuring a 110kW 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four paired to an 85kW electric motor and a 13kWh lithium-ion battery pack for a total system output of 180kW/400Nm.


A more traditional Cupra Ateca medium SUV shares the Formentor’s 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four, seven-speed DSG transmission and ‘4Drive’ all-wheel-drive system but stands taller and rides on a shorter 2638mm wheelbase (shared with the closely related Skoda Karoq).


To be offered with a single engine specification, the 221kW/400Nm Cupra Ateca 4Drive is also said to be good for 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds.


The third model will be the Cupra Leon that launched in Europe in late-2020. Sharing its underpinnings with the new-generation Mk8 Golf, the Leon will open the Cupra line-up by mirroring the Formentor with three petrol engines and a plug-in hybrid – all front-wheel drive with seven-speed dual-clutch transmissions.


Its 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four will be offered in 140kW, 180kW and 221kW outputs while the e-Hybrid produces a total system output of 180kW/400Nm and is capable of up to 60km of WLTP-measured, electric-only range.


For the time being, the Cupra Leon Sportstourer (wagon) won’t be coming here, seeing its Q2 2022 arrival timing would coincide too closely with the launch of Volkswagen’s new-generation Golf R wagon.


Neither will the limited-edition Formentor VZ5, featuring the Audi RS Q3’s 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo engine. Capped at 7000 units (unless Cupra decides to make it an ongoing model in the future), the VZ5 is currently only configured for left-hand drive.


Definitely under consideration, however, is Cupra’s first EV, the Born – due to start European sales in September. A close relative of the Volkswagen ID.3, the rear-wheel-drive Born will offer three powertrains including an optional e-Boost1 performance package with a 77kWh battery, 170kW of power, 540km of range and 0-100km/h in 7.0 seconds.


In 2020, despite the interruptions of the pandemic, Cupra achieved 27,400 sales in Europe for double-digit growth over 2019. That number has already been surpassed during the first five months of 2021 with 28,800 sales across Europe.


In terms of the sales split for the models coming to Australia, European sales have been dominated by the Formentor with 19,458 sales year-to-date, followed by the Leon with 4993 sales and Ateca with 4133 sales.

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