- Leon, Ateca and Formentor take the lead Down Under Down
- First VW mainstream brand to offer a plug-in hybrid
- The model range will mainly use VW’s 2-liter turbo four-pot engine
The Volkswagen Group’s performance brand Cupra is launching nine model variants, including a hot hatch, fast SUVs and plug-in hybrids, on the Australian market.
Cupra Australia confirmed this week that its 2022 launcher will include the Leon hatchback, Ateca compact SUV and Formentor’s coupe-style crossover.
The first models will cover a price range from just over $ 40,000 to just over $ 60,000.
The Leon Luke will be the cheapest Cupra model and the Formentor will take on the status of a Halo vehicle. A plug-in hybrid version of the Formentor is expected to be the most expensive car in the launcher.
The young, performance-oriented brand of the VW Group, which was only launched three years ago in Europe, is targeting a market area in which the German umbrella group has little presence. A minimal cannibalization of VW or Skoda sports models is expected.
“We want to target the 92 percent” [of customers] Don’t buy VW products, ”said Ben Wilks, Brand Director of Cupra Australia.
“This means premium euro brands, but also the more interesting Asian brands – especially the performance-oriented ones.
“That’s where we get a large part of our volume. Even today we don’t see much crossover between Skoda and Volkswagen, so [sales cannibalisation is] not a big concern for us.
“This is a great opportunity for the Cupra brand to find a nice place where Skoda, Volkswagen and even Audi don’t compete – and to offer customers something that they are currently not getting from other brands in the VW Group.
“We won’t be a brand for everyone; we just have to be loved by some. “
One Cupra difference, emphasizes the company, is a more expressive design compared to the traditionally more reserved forms of the Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen models.
The company uses copper as the signature color for its logo, as well as exterior / interior trim elements and even wheels for certain variants.
Electrification will be another unique selling point for Cupra among its stable mates. It will be the first mainstream VW brand to offer plug-in hybrid models, with the Leon Hatch and Formentor SUV lines both including e-hybrid petrol-electric variants. (VW will also launch the Touareg R plug-in hybrid SUV sometime in 2022, but it will cost around $ 140,000.)
According to Wilks, Cupra’s story is ultimately about the electrification of the future, and positive recent developments in Australia have both helped and encouraged Cupra to validate the PHEV models for a launch in 2022.
That includes the government’s commitment to improving the country’s poor fuel quality, while New South Wales recently announced upcoming incentives for all-electric vehicle buyers.
Cupra Australia says this has increased the potential for the brand’s first all-electric model, the recently unveiled Born, to eventually be added to the range.
From the market launch, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder with turbocharger from the VW Group will dominate and drive most of the variants in different moods.
The Leon and Formentor each start with a 140 kW / 320 Nm model, with the hatchback using a front-wheel drive layout compared to the SUV’s all-wheel drive.
A 180 kW variant with a Golf GTI engine will be in the middle of each series. The engine from the Golf R is used in the fastest versions of the Leon and Formentor with 221 and 228 kW respectively.
The Ateca, which is slightly shorter than the other models, is available as a single variant with the 221 kW turbo four-cylinder engine in combination with all-wheel drive.
All models couple engines with an automatic double clutch.
The fastest Cupra models at market launch will be the 228 kW Formentor and the 221 kW Ateca, both of which have all-wheel drive and share an acceleration time from 0 to 100 km / h of 4.9 seconds.
The next fastest is the 221 kW Leon with 5.7 seconds – with front-wheel drive, 180 kW petrol and e-Hybrid Leons with 6.4 and 6.7 seconds respectively.
Cupra says the 140 kW AWD Formentor reaches 100 km / h from a standstill in 7.1 seconds, while the 180 kW E-Hybrid variant with front-wheel drive is seven tenths slower (7.8 seconds).
Cupra’s fastest vehicle in the world is the Formentor VZ5, which is powered by the 2.5-liter turbo five-cylinder engine from the Audi RS3 and RSQ3 models and accelerates from 0 to 100 km / h in 4.2 seconds. As a pure left-hand drive series model, the VZ5 is not available for the Australian market.
Cupra Formentor e-Hybrid
The e-Hybrid plug-in models offer an electric range of up to 55 km thanks to their 85 kW electric motor, which is paired with a 1.4-liter turbo petrol engine.
Cupra Australia has announced that it will provide further details on pricing and specifications shortly before the brand launches in the second quarter of 2022. It is expected to follow the brand’s hierarchical approach to trim levels overseas, including New Zealand where VZ1 denotes an entry-level variant, VZ2 is a mid-range model and VZ3 is the top of the range.
The VZ trim levels can easily differentiate between drivetrains in a model range, although Cupra Australia says there will be some slight functional differences between the variants. This includes convenience functions as well as upgrades for upholstery and wheels.
Cupra vehicles are sold both online and through an agency setup that promises nationally transparent prices. Branded boutiques similar to the approach of the Hyundai luxury brand Genesis as well as “pop-up points of sale and outlets in existing high-profile retail environments” are planned.
As with VW and Skoda products, Cupra vehicles come with a five-year unlimited mileage guarantee. The service will be available from selected dealers in the VW Group.
Cupra became a performance-oriented subsidiary of the VW Group’s Spanish brand Seat in 2018. The name Cupra has previously been used for its sportiest models such as the Ibiza Cupra and the Leon Cupra since 1996.
It would be the equivalent of Volkswagen creating a separate R division, following similar steps taken by Fiat (with Abarth) and Volvo (with Polestar).
Cupra had sold 28,800 vehicles in the UK and Europe through May 2021, dwarfing the 27,400 units the brand sold in 2020. That number was also an increase of 11 per year.
The Cupra Formentor is by far the brand’s most popular model, outperforming both the Leon and the Ateca by around four to one.
The brand’s largest markets are its home country of Spain, Germany and Great Britain. Cupra has been sold in New Zealand since 2019.
Volkswagen Group Australia has reiterated that there are no plans to bring the Seat brand back to the country where it was last sold between 1995 and 1999. The company believes that its Skoda brand already covers the market sufficiently, with offerings that are usually below comparable VW models.
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