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Cupra rebrand to give SEAT’s performance arm its own identity

SEAT is considering a new look for its Cupra performance division – including the idea of a bespoke badge for the sub-brand, Auto Express can reveal.

The Spanish manufacturer has been working on increasingly ambitious plans for Cupra ever since the arrival of current CEO Luca de Meo in autumn 2015. The firm’s head of research and development, Matthias Rabe, is also keen to make greater use of the SEAT Sport engineering team, which has recent experience in touring cars.

At the moment, Cupra models are made distinct from conventional SEATs by subtle branding featuring a chequered flag motif. But trademark applications made by SEAT at the end of May show a different approach entirely – including a new logo that’s placed above the existing Cupra lettering. Perhaps more significantly, one of the applications illustrates a bevelled, three-dimensional badge carrying the same graphic.

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SEAT declined to confirm specific plans, but a spokesperson commented, “SEAT is evolving its corporate identity. Additionally, we have to take into account that, as a common procedure in our industrial activity, we register the property of many different patents, logos and designs.”

Significantly, though, the company representative added, “As we mentioned a few months ago, one of our goals is to develop the business of SEAT Sport beyond motorsport activities.”

This comment suggests that SEAT is indeed considering leveraging the equity in the Cupra brand, and the legitimacy of SEAT Sport-tuned performance cars, by making its faster models more distinct from the conventional range of vehicles. This could give Cupra more creative freedom and potentially allow the firm to charge more of a premium, improving its profit margins on higher-end editions.

The next Cupra vehicle is expected to be a more extreme Leon, badged Cupra R and due on sale before the end of this year. Rabe referred to that vehicle back in the spring and told us to expect “something within seven or eight months”. A high-performance version of the Ateca SUV will then follow, in the first half of 2018. It’s not yet clear if either of these models will carry the proposed new branding.

Are you excited about Cupra becoming a standalone brand? Let us know below…