The 296 bhp SUV is the first model from Seat's new Cupra sub-division.

The first model from Seat’s new Cupra performance sub-division - the Cupra Ateca - has gone on sale in the UK.

Based on the Seat Ateca SUV, the Cupra features a powerful 2-litre petrol engine, styling tweaks and upgraded suspension - all included in the £35,900 asking price.

Externally, the high-performance model is set apart not only by the angular Cupra logo on the grille, but by its 19-inch alloy wheels, redesigned rear bumper and quad exhaust pipes. Gloss black details, meanwhile, have been liberally applied, with the roof rails, window surrounds and rear diffuser all sporting the dark, moody look.

The cabin has had a makeover, too, with copper-coloured stitching on the seats and steering wheel, while the dashboard is adorned with glossy black trim, the pedals are made from aluminium and the seats are wrapped in Alcantara.

Cupra Ateca

But the car’s beating heart is a 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 296 bhp. Working in collaboration with a seven-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, it’s capable of taking the family SUV from 0-62 mph in 5.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 153 mph.

And that’s far from the only mechanical update. The suspension has been modified, too, along with the power steering, to deliver what Seat describes as “exceptional dynamic behaviour and fantastic ride quality.”

Cupra Ateca

The Cupra also has a driving mode selector, which modifies the characteristics of the throttle response, gearbox, steering and suspension to the driver’s taste or to suit the conditions. As with the standard four-wheel-drive Ateca, the Normal, Individual, Sport, Snow and Off-Road modes are all available, but a sixth option has been added. Cupra mode will adjust the suspension to make the car feel sharper, while the engine note changes to give a sportier feel.

As standard, the Cupra also comes with keyless entry and start, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system and wireless phone charging. Also Included in the car’s price tag is a service plan including three dealer services, plus the car’s first MOT.

Cupra Ateca

According to Seat, just a few options will be available, including a Comfort and Sound Pack with driver assistance features and an upgraded sound system, and a Design Pack with 20-inch alloy wheels, Brembo brakes and a panoramic sunroof.

The Cupra Ateca will be available to order from any Seat dealership, but during the first quarter of 2019, a fleet of 25 Cupra specialist dealers will offer customers “a more tailored experience.”

Cupra Ateca

“The launch of Cupra Ateca represents a real change in the SUV market – there is simply no other car like it available with such a competitive overall package,” said Richard Harrison, managing director of Seat UK.

“With 297 bhp, Cupra Ateca offers customers a unique proposition: the high performance expected from the Cupra name, paired with the practicality of an award-winning SUV and wrapped up in an elegant design – all at an affordable inclusive price. We are excited that Cupra is creating this new sub-category of alternative premium performance SUVs.”

Gallery: Cupra Ateca