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Cupra launched as SEAT’s standalone performance brand

A new badge will help kick off Cupra’s possible transformation into a fully-fledged sub-brand

SEAT has confirmed that Cupra is set to go it alone as the Spanish firm’s performance sub-brand. evo reported as much back in August 2017 when logos and branding designs for Cupra as a standalone brand were filed with the patent office, but now it’s official and we can expect future fast versions of the Ibiza and Leon to be more ‘Cupra’ and less ‘SEAT’.

> SEAT Leon Cupra 300 review

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The launch of ‘Cupra as its own entity’, as the accompanying teaser video puts it, is also expected to herald an expansion in the line-up of performance-focused SEAT cars and the timing of the announcement could be telling. Rumours are rife that the Ateca Cupra is set to make its debut at the 2018 Geneva motor show in a few weeks. Dr Matthias Rabe, SEAT’s head of research and development has also hinted that Cupra models using hybrid powertrains are a possibility in the more distant future. “Cupra and electrification is not a contradiction,” he said. “I could see a Cupra as an electrified car – and we have something in mind.”

The Cupra teaser video released by SEAT (see below) also primes us to expect more information in a detailed announcement scheduled for 22 February. This could be our first official look at the Ateca Cupra which has already been seen undisguised in spy shots. SEAT’s fortunes have been looking up recently – a strong set of core models, complemented by slick new SUVs like the Ateca and Arona helped the marque turn a profit for the first time since its sale to Volkswagen back in the ’90s.

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SEAT’s decision to expand Cupra has reportedly came on the back of this stronger sales performance and the firm’s current head of research and development Matthias Rabe’s intention to make greater use of the SEAT Sport engineering team. Much like Peugeot Sport which builds the French brand’s rally cars, SEAT Sport is responsible for building SEAT Leon Cupra Cup cars that are used in both a one-make racing series and FIA endurance races.

Today, the Cupra brand is only available on the hot Cupra R version of the current generation Leon. Its design is relatively subtle by hot hatch standards with its copper detailing providing to a link with the official Cupra logo that has now been released by SEAT. The new positioning of Cupra as its own brand suggests a different approach with a much more prominent role for Cupra and potentially a more aggressive design direction for hot SEATs of the future.

At the time of the patent logo leak, a spokesperson commented that, “SEAT is evolving its corporate identity. Additionally, we have to take into account that, as a common procedure in our industrial activity, we register the property of many different patents, logos and designs.”

The company representative added, “As we mentioned a few months ago, one of our goals is to develop the business of SEAT Sport beyond motorsport activities.” This points towards SEAT’s intention to give the Cupra brand not only a chance to lean more heavily on its motorsport connections, but also the freedom to create more distinction between its road cars and more mainstream SEAT models. 

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