A sporty new Spanish brand is about to enter the crowded Australian market.

    Volkswagen Group Australia has confirmed it’s bringing the Cupra brand to Australia in 2022.

    Once only a performance trim level used on Seat products, Cupra was spun-off into its own sub-brand in 2018.

    It sells fettled versions of Seat products but is also offering an increasing number of Cupra-exclusive models.

    “I can announce that next year we will start our operations in Australia as a key move towards expanding in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia is a young market and CUPRA is a young brand,” said Cupra president Wayne Griffiths.

    “Customers are looking for new brands, there is a high middle-class income and it is a progressive society. We are confident that CUPRA can be successful in this country.”

    Volkswagen Group Australia says it’s expanding, while Cupra is also looking to grow its presence in the Asia-Pacific region. That makes Australia a beachhead for the upstart brand, which has already announced its entry into New Zealand.

    Cupra products won’t be joined on the boats by regular, Seat-badged models, which were last seen in Australia in 1999 but have since reappeared across the pond in New Zealand.

    The Cupra range currently consists of tuned versions of the Leon small hatch and wagon and the Ateca small SUV.

    Cupra’s flagship is the Formentor, which has no Seat equivalent but shares its MQB Evo architecture with the likes of the Ateca, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf Mk8.

    The company will also put into production the Tavascan concept revealed in 2019, an electric performance SUV based on Volkswagen’s MEB all-electric architecture.

    It’ll reach Europe and “overseas markets” in 2024.

    In New Zealand, all Cupra models are currently powered by turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines mated with seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmissions.

    The Leon hatchback and Ateca both produce 221kW of power and 400Nm of torque, though the former is front-wheel drive and the latter is all-wheel drive.

    The Leon wagon (“Sportstourer”) and Formentor both feature all-wheel drive and a more powerful 228kW tune.

    The Formentor is also available with a less powerful 140kW/320Nm turbo 2.0-litre.

    There’s a spicier Formentor coming, however, in the form of the VZ5 (above).

    The sporty SUV borrows the 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine from the Audi RS3 and RSQ3, producing 287kW of power and 480Nm of torque.

    Before the Tavascan launches in 2024, Cupra will debut its first all-electric model, the Born, which is based on the Seat el-Born.

    Cupra has also already revealed plug-in hybrid versions of the Leon and Formentor, which both use a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine.

    Badged e-Hybrid and available in different tunes, the plug-in Cupras produce up to 180kW of power and achieve an all-electric range of up to 60km.

    Though officially part of Seat, Cupra has its own headquarters and a racing car workshop in Barcelona.

    In its three years in the European market, Cupra has sold 70,000 vehicles and has continued to grow.

    Even in 2020, a harrowing year, Cupra posted double-digit growth over the previous year.

    There are some Seat models that Cupra hasn’t gotten its hands on yet.

    The Cupra name first debuted on the second-generation Ibiza light hatch and was sold here after Seat’s 1998 relaunch until its withdrawal in 1999.

    However, the current (fifth) generation of Ibiza isn’t offered as a Cupra even though a concept was revealed in 2018.

    Other Seats to miss out on the Cupra treatment include the Arona light SUV, the brand’s Skoda Kamiq equivalent, as well as the Kodiaq-rivalling Tarraco and, unsurprisingly, the Alhambra minivan.

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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