Spanish or German engineering, which will win? Considering the Cupra Ateca crossover (now their own entity associated with SEAT) and Volkswagen Golf R hatchback have vastly different body styles, it's a tough question. But compare the numbers, and they're surprisingly similar.
Both cars have turbocharged 2.0-liter engines, all-wheel drive, and similar curb weights (3,373 pounds / 1,530 kilograms for the VW, and 3,560 pounds / 1,615 kilograms for the Cupra). The initial drag races in this video demonstrate these similarities perfectly. The Golf R has just enough power to survive from standing and rolling starts, but all is not lost for the Ateca.
ABT tuning works closely with SEAT and offers a $634 (£500) ECU upgrade for the SEAT Leon Cupra R. The Cupra R has the same engine as the Cupra Ateca, but here, the ECU unleashes 50 more horsepower (37 kilowatts) and doesn't void the factory warranty. Even though the upgrade hadn’t yet been approved for the Ateca, Seat gave CarWow the ok to swap one in.
Although ABT tuning isn’t nearly as recognizable a brand as RUF or Brabus, for example, there’s no doubt the shop knows what it’s doing. ABT’s founder, Johan Abt, started fettling with ECU’s as early as 1978 when he tuned the first Golf GTI. Two years later, the company launched its first publicly available chip tune. ABT is also currently involved in DTM and Formula E racing with great success.
After the ECU upgrade, the tables turn in favor of the SEAT. The upgraded hatch edges out its German counterpart in the standing start, as the Golf R did prior. The rolling start, with ABT’s extra torque, gives the Ateca the edge. Even though the Ateca is eventually victorious, there’s no denying SEAT’s standard vehicle isn’t quick enough compared to the Golf. It begs the question: if the upgraded ECU costs only $634 (£500) to install, should SEAT make it available from the start?