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Cupra confirmed to be heading Down Under in 2022

Volkswagen Group’s Spanish performance brand locked in for 2022 Aus launch

24 Mar 2021

THE premium Australian performance market will be getting a shake-up in 2022 when Spanish brand Cupra arrives Down Under in the first half of the year under the Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA) flag.


The announcement was made overnight at the brand’s annual press conference by Cupra president Wayne Griffiths who said Australia was a key piece in the brand’s Asia-Pacific expansion.


“Australia is a young market and Cupra is a young brand,” he said.


“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.”


Starting out as the performance arm of Seat, Cupra was established as a brand in its own right in 2018 however it still has close ties with Seat as well as the wider Volkswagen Group.


Such is the closeness of the Group brands, the new Forementer VZ5 performance crossover rides on the familiar and widely shared MQB platform and is powered by an Audi-sourced turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol engine developing 289kW of power and 480Nm of torque.


For all intents and purposes, the Forementer VZ5 is essentially a cut-price Audi RS Q3 – it rides on the same platform and is powered by the same engine – just like how the Skoda Octavia RS is a slightly cheaper (and bigger) alternative to the Volkswagen Golf GTI.


For reference, the rampant Spanish crossover stops the clock from 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds, just 0.3s off the fabled RS.


With a limited run of just 7000 units, it is unlikely Australia will see many examples of the Forementer VZ5, especially given the brand won’t officially launch here for another 12 months.


The regular Forementer is also unlikely to materialise here given VGA’s ongoing plan of skipping hybrids and opting for pure-electric vehicles instead – all standard Forementers feature a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) system.


With the Forecaster effectively out of the equation, the local Cupra line-up could consist of just three models and variants, all of which will have ties to relevant Volkswagen performance flagships.


Going in size order, the Leon should open things for the Spanish brand with the current version powered by a 221kW/400Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with drive sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.


Zero-to-100km/h takes 5.7 seconds – a full second slower than the similarly powerful and sized but all-paw Golf R, but still half a second faster than the Golf GTI.


An all-wheel-drive wagon version (‘Sportstourer’) is also offered in Europe and could be offered Down Under as a hotter alternative to the Skoda Octavia RS wagon and fill the gap left by the now-defunct Golf R wagon.


For reference, the Sportstourer’s all-wheel-drive system sheds nearly a second from the hatch’s 0-100km/h time to stop the clock in 4.9 seconds.


SUV buyers should be catered for by the T-Roc-sized Ateca which shares all of the same running gear and key statistics as its wagon cousin albeit in a higher-riding package.


A spate of electric vehicles could also be on the cards in the not too distant future as well with the Born small car set to emerge in Europe later this year which is set to offer an effective range of up to 500km thanks to its 77kWh (82kWh gross) battery.


In 2024, the battery-electric Tavascan SUV will join the European portfolio and occupy a similar corner of the market to the Volkswagen ID.4, Audi E-Tron and Skoda Enyaq, albeit with a slightly sportier bent than the latter.


VGA managing director Michael Bartsch shared Mr Griffiths’ enthusiasm for Cupra’s Australian launch and said the local arm of the Volkswagen Group was similarly expanding.


“With its unique models combining stimulating style and contemporary performance, Cupra could scarcely be a range better bespoke to a certain Australian customer set,” he said.

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