Volkswagen's high-performance Spanish brand will finally hit Australia in 2022, though the range of vehicles it will sell locally remains unclear.
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Cupra vehicles will at last be sold in Australia, with the Spanish performance brand announcing overnight it will enter the Australian market in early 2022.

Owned by the Volkswagen Group, Cupra formerly served as the performance arm of mainstream, VW-owned Spanish car maker SEAT – which hasn't operated in Australia since the late 1990s – before being spun off into its own brand in early 2018.

Around five years after that brand reboot, from early next year, Cupra-badged models will finally grace Australian showrooms, with the brand's local operation to be managed by Volkswagen Group Australia itself, rather than a separate importer such as Inchcape or Ateco.

Above: Cupra Leon hot hatch. Bottom of story: Cupra Leon Sportstourer performance wagon.

"Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda each retain their entirely distinct identities, but perhaps no brand more so than Cupra with its uniquely sporting selection of SUVs and compact cars. There could scarcely be a range better bespoke to a certain Australian customer set," said Volkswagen Group Australia managing director, Michael Bartsch.

SEAT and Cupra global president, Wayne Griffiths, added: "Australia is a young market and Cupra is a young brand. 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."

However, it remains to be seen which of the Spanish brand's range of performance vehicles will be offered locally, with further details of the Australian line-up expected to be announced in the coming weeks and months.

In Europe, Cupra's range spans from performance versions of regular SEAT models, namely the Volkswagen Golf-sized Leon small car and Tiguan-sized Ateca, to standalone Cupra models, specifically the mid-size Formentor coupe SUV.

Above: Cupra Formentor sports SUV.

The brand will launch its first electric vehicle, the small-sized Born, later in 2021, with a production version of the sporty Tavascan SUV concept due to go on sale in Europe in 2024.

Volkswagen Australia's criticism in recent weeks of Australia's lagging emissions regulations suggests a range of non-electrified Cupra models are more likely for our market – though nothing has been ruled out.

Cupra's New Zealand operation could provide a clue at what to expect in Australia, despite our strict Australian Design Rules that can make certifying vehicles for sale locally more challenging than in other markets.

Across the Tasman, the Spanish brand's range is opened on price by the Formentor, available with a choice of 140kW 'V' and 228kW 'VZ' turbo engines, priced from NZ$54,900 (AU$51,000) and NZ$68,900 (AU$63,500).

Above: Cupra Ateca sports SUV.

The Cupra Leon small car can be had in 221kW/400Nm front-wheel-drive hatch and 228kW/400Nm all-wheel-drive wagon guises, priced from NZ$59,900 (AU$55,500) and NZ$65,900 (AU$61,000) respectively.

For reference, a new Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTI is priced from NZ$61,490 (AU$57,000) – versus $53,190 before on-road costs in Australia, with models in both regions offering similar levels of standard equipment.

Also available in NZ is the Cupra Ateca, priced from NZ$67,600 (AU$62,500) with a 221kW/400Nm turbo engine and all-wheel-drive. All of the vehicles detailed above feature seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions.

Stay tuned to CarAdvice over the coming months for more details on Cupra's Australian launch.