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Spanish car manufacturer Seat has confirmed the launch of its new Cupra performance subsidiary – set to launch on February 22, with its first models to debut at the Geneva motor show.

A name reserved for the sportiest Seat models – think Volkswagen R or BMW M – the Cupra name has gone from a badge to a fully-fledged sub-brand, with all of its upcoming models to wear the new Cupra logo and no Seat branding.

It’s a shortened name for ‘Cup Racing’, first used to celebrate the 1996 Seat Ibiza’s victory in the World Rally Championship.

The brand’s official debut will be on February 22, with the “first Cupra models” to be “introduced to the public” at the Geneva motor show in March.

Reports out of Europe claim one of these models will be a hotted-up version of the Seat Ateca SUV (above), which has a lot in common with the Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Karoq – Seat is part of the Volkswagen Group, aimed predominantly at youthful Europeans.

Currently, the most powerful engine offered in the Ateca are a 140kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol, or a 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel.

We’d expect the Cupra-badged Ateca will see a 221kW/380Nm 2.0-litre turbo under the bonnet, considering the only other Cupra model currently on sale is the Leon Cupra with the same engine – also shared with the Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R.

Given the front-wheel driven Leon Cupra manages a 5.7-second sprint from 0-100km/h, we reckon an all-wheel driven Cupra Ateca could match or even better that figure.

Above: Seat Leon Cupra R

It would also be the first time we’ve seen the 221kW 2.0-litre engine used in one of the Volkswagen Group’s SUV models, as no crossover from the Audi, Seat, Skoda or Volkswagen stables has featured the high-output motor as yet.

Other Cupra models expected to debut in Geneva include a re-branded version of the Seat Leon Cupra, and potentially Cupra versions of the Ibiza light hatch and Arona small SUV.

Above: Seat Leon ST Cupra 280


Volkswagen’s local division told CarAdvice there are no plans to introduce Seat or Seat-related products to Australia at this stage.

Considering Volkswagen Group already has an extensive range of performance models across Skoda and Volkswagen at the mainstream level, adding Seat and Cupra models into the mix would likely muddy the waters a little too much.

It’s a shame, because our friends in New Zealand get them…

MORE: Seat coverage