Home » America Is About To Get Europe’s Coolest Car Brand And I’m Pumped

America Is About To Get Europe’s Coolest Car Brand And I’m Pumped

Cupra Born
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I think we all know that Škoda is Europe’s best brand (no I will not explain), but Cupra is probably Europe’s hottest brand right now. The cars look great, they’re fun, and people seem to love them. Now we’re finding out that Cupra is coming to the United States. W00t!

Cupra might be Europe’s coolest car brand, but Europe’s favorite pastime is watching what kind of BS Formula 1 is going to get itself involved in next. This time they’ve crossed Susie Wolff; well, I wouldn’t do that.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Speaking of F1, Aston Martin (the automaker) has a new boss. What’s the opposite of a brand that’s been in F1? Lincoln. Ford’s luxury brand has rarely been sporty, and that laid-back attitude has extended to inventory as the Lincoln brand has dumped a ton of cars on dealers it meant to deliver last year. That’s not great, but it may not be Nissan Rogue bad.

Happy Friday Morning Dumpers, let’s squeeze out a good one!

Volkswagen’s Cupra Is Coming

Medium 3889 Cuprarange

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Cupra is a weird brand. Initially, Cupra started as a trim level offered by Seat, a once Fiat-associated Spanish automaker. Then, in the 1980s, Seat was purchased by Volkswagen to add to its giant list of subbrands.

Cupra was sort of like Seat’s AMG, meaning you used to be able to get, like, a Seat Leon Cupra (a portmanteau of Cup Racing). There are many famous Cupra cars, but the one you might know best is the mid-2000s León Cupra R, based on the same platform as the Mk4 Golf:

Seat Leon Cupra R
Photo: Seat

Eventually, more cars got the Cupra treatment and, in 2018, Seat decided to create a new sub-brand called Cupra that would focus on making a sportier range of vehicles the company could then export elsewhere. The brand, while making gas-powered cars, was also designed to eventually focus on hybrids and EVs.

The cars look great. Walking around England I kept seeking out Cupras and saw a couple of Formentors and, I think, a León driving the opposite direction. As with Škoda, Porsche, Audi and other VW brands, these are all just different flavors of modular VW platforms, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t all great. A spicy crawfish etouffee and a simple bechamel both start out as a roux, if you catch my drift.

I was sort of wondering if VW might try to introduce another brand to the United States to counter Polestar but, given how Polestar’s been doing lately, that didn’t seem like an obvious move. Thus my surprise when Cupra/Seat CEO Wayne Griffiths said the following yesterday:

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“By the end of the decade CUPRA will be entering the U.S. market. We plan to launch with the battery electric version of the Formentor and a bigger electric crossover SUV. That crossover SUV will be produced at Volkswagen Group factories in the North America region, including Mexico. Initially, CUPRA will launch in selected states in the East and West coasts and the Sun Belt states. This will be done through a new distribution model,” announced Wayne Griffiths.

There is a lot to unpack there. Let’s start with the obvious; here’s what the current Fomentor looks like:

Cupra Formentor

This is a C-Segment crossover based on the same MQB Evo as the Golf, Audi A3, Tiguan, Ford Tourneo Connect…

A new one is going to come out in the next couple of years, and the United States will seemingly only get the EV version. The larger EV? Unclear what that’ll be, but it’s likely a Kia EV9-style thing maybe? Maybe a version of the ID.Buzz?

Also, what the hell does this mean:

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“This will be done through a new distribution model.”

I’ve checked the wires and no one else seems to know either, so I’m excited to hear about that. Either way, more new weird car brands is good and, hopefully, the first round of BEV crossovers will be followed up by something small and sporty like the ID.3-based Cupra Born, which I like very much:

Cupra Born Vz

More weird car brands, just don’t make the Alpine mistake and bring us some cars, too!

FIA Leadership Loves Shooting Their Own Dicks Off

Susie Wolff
Source: Formula E

I chose the phallic reference above for a good reason as the FIA and F1 seem to have swapped the sort of chummy ’70s misogyny of Bernie Ecclestone-era F1 for something far more insidious and also somehow more hamfisted. Sure, the whole Ecclestone-era schtick of only allowing women near the cars if they were holding an umbrella was pretty awful in retrospect, but it was comically obvious what they were doing and they made no real secret of their feelings.

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Now there’s a new F1 and FIA with a super obvious double standard when it comes to how it treats women, though this is going to get into the complex relationship between the owners of F1 the brand (Liberty Media), the FIA (the governing body), and F1 as a collection of teams.

Oh boy, where to start?

Susie Wolff is a Scottish race car driver and former Formula E team principal who is now in charge of the F1 Academy, which is Formula 1’s attempt at making a racing series to encourage participation by female drivers in the highest level of motorsports. Is this the best way to do this? I don’t know, but it seems like a genuine effort and I’m not going to let great be the enemy of something.

By virtue of F1 being a small world and everyone in F1 being a little extra, as demonstrated by Drive To Survive, Teutonic superman Toto Wolff of Mercedes-AMG F1 fame and Susie Wolff (then Susie Stoddart) fell in love and got married and had kids. I’ve met both of them and they seem like accomplished and successful professionals. Racing is a tough job with a ton of travel and, you know, hats off to them for making it work. Also, my favorite impression is my Toto Wolff impression “Michael, zis is so unfair, Michael!”

For, like, one weird week in December, the FIA said it was going to do an investigation of Susie Wolff because other F1 teams complained that the involvement of Wolff in the F1 Academy was a conflict of interest. Almost immediately after the FIA announcement, every team came out and said “We don’t know what you’re talking about FIA” and the thing was dropped. It was pretty insulting and was just one of many things that FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem did that pissed everyone off.

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Fast forward to earlier this year and it is alleged that Red Bull’s Christian Horner made a lot of advances to a Red Bull Racing employee and was otherwise a weird boss. There are supposed leaked but unconfirmed texts. It’s a messy saga, but Red Bull did a quick investigation and cleared Horner. Red Bull then quickly suspended the woman who made the claims. It is difficult to ascertain if this employee’s claims are legitimate, but the vibe around F1 and F1 reporters is that they seem plausible and the employee, for her part, isn’t backing down. Additionally, Horner and Red Bull seem to have gone out of their way to not confirm if the texts are real or not and will not name the lawyer who supposedly conducted the internal investigation. Is it shady? It feels shady.

All of this is important because the FIA has also not said if it’s actually investigating Horner or not. This seems like a huge double standard given that it immediately announced it was investigating Susie Wolff for committing the terrible sin of being, uh, married, but hasn’t said much about Horner.

Anyway, here’s Susie Wolff on X/Twitter:

The FIA, so far as I’ve seen, hasn’t provided much detail to any reporter asking about the complaint. At the same time, Red Bull is dealing with a world of drama as champion driver Max Verstappen’s dad Jos Verstappen is going around telling everyone that Horner needs to go away and people keep wondering if the FIA will actually investigate the issue.

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Here’s the great kicker to this story, courtesy of BBC Sport:

Meanwhile, over the course of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, Ben Sulayem approached Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and said he should make a public statement supporting Horner.

Verstappen responded, sources close to the world champion have told BBC Sport, by telling Ben Sulayem he should launch his own investigation into the matter.

I’m not a huge Max Verstappen fan, personally, but I do feel a little bad for the kid because it seems like his whole life is just him being pressured by weird dads.

Aston Martin Appoints Adrian Hallmark As CEO

Adrian Hallmark Square

Speaking of F1 dads, props to Aston Martin Chairman Lawrence Stroll for snagging ex-Bentley Motors CEO Adrian Hallmark as the new CEO of the company, replacing Amedeo Felisa.

As CEO of Bentley, Hallmark did an undeniably great job of making the company über profitable while also getting the brand through the pandemic.

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Here’s what Stroll had to say about it:

“In Adrian Hallmark, we are attracting one of the highest calibre leaders not just in our segment, but in the entire global automotive industry. Complementing our world-class leadership, Adrian will bring to Aston Martin unrivalled experience in both the ultra-luxury and British manufacturing sectors to progress our strategy and continue recent momentum.”

Aston Martin seems like a tough gig at the moment given the company’s ongoing financial losses, so I think Hallmark has the potential to be a great pick.

It Might Be A Good Time To Buy A Lincoln

2025 Lincoln Aviator

While far from its heyday, Lincoln has managed to continue to plug along selling cars every year. It’s also starting to get a little more product support from Ford as the brand shifts towards more lux + tech.

One of the biggest challenges for Lincoln last year was inventory as UAW strikes and quality issues (including a stop-sale for the popular Aviator) hampered sales. Now, it seems, the opposite is happening. Lincoln has fixed its production woes and has now delivered a ton of cars, including 2023 MY crossovers to dealers. According to Automotive News, the February stock of Lincolns is three times what it was a year ago.

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From that report:

“It was kind of a perfect storm for the factory to have to get through,” Chris Poulos, chairman of the Lincoln National Dealer Council, told Automotive News. “We’re dealing with it on a day-to-day basis. All in all, yes, inventories are up, but I look at it as an opportunity to get some volume.”

Still, some dealers have voiced concerns over the need to more quickly reduce supply, citing concerns over how lingering 2023 models could affect floorplan costs or hurt their ability to market the newest vehicles.

“We’re going to do what we need to do to clear out the old models as we need to, and so far it’s going well,” Lincoln President Dianne Craig said in an interview this month, adding that the focus was on incentives. “The last couple months we’ve made some really good progress.”

Lincoln sales are already trending upward this year, so if you’re in the market for a luxury car and don’t mind a 2023 model you might be able to get a good deal.

What I’m Listening To While Writing TMD

This was playing in a Honda Civic roughly three blocks away, but it was playing so loudly I heard it quite clearly. Let’s start Friday with a little Shaggy. Where does his unique voice come from? He was in the Marines and the voice was originally created to mock drill instructors. I love that.

The Big Question

Which brand not in the United States would you bring here? Obviously, I’d bring Škoda.

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MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
21 days ago

Seems like an odd decision to bring yet another blob shaped crossover to the US as “new” with a brand that Americans won’t know. If most of them think bechamel is a perfume, I doubt they will be able to pronounce See-at. At least start with a Spicy Cupra to draw people in!

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
22 days ago

It’s weird seeing Cupras on Australian roads. We had Seat for a short time and no one knew what the hell they were and they didn’t sell. We did get at least one Seat Cupra model back then. No one knows what the hell a Cupra is either but I think I’ve seen more of them in a very short time than I ever did Seats over the 5 or 10 years they existed here (can’t even remember how long, they were that unpopular).

I’m not crazy about the name. Unfortunately my mind (don’t know why, I’m not completely depraved and in no way into that kind of thing!) went straight to “2 girls one Cupra”. Sorry to make your mind go there too…

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
22 days ago

As a European I can say with some confidence that Cupra is a meh brand. Sort of below VW, but above SEAT so maybe Skoda level? But not cool. And just so we’re clear, VW is the fifth best German car brand (although they own two of the others), so no one is going nuts over their badge engineered cast-offs.

There was a time when SEAT Cupras were the cheap version of hot VWs. Those cars were popular because they were cheap and hot. The current Cupras seem to be just some cars. I assume they sell mostly to the people who used to have the good ones but are now parents who just need a car.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
22 days ago

Seriously, what is there to be pumped about with Cupra? Styling-wise they don’t offer anything the new Prius doesn’t also. They’re VAG products so guaranteed not to last. And they’re electric crossovers, the most boring vehicle segment in the universe. They have no reason to come here, we have too many boring electric crossovers already! The market’s frickin saturated! Leave it alone so at least clueless consumers have few enough options to choose good ones.

I want to see companies like Citroen or Peugeot selling cars here, they’d at least offer something novel even if the drivetrain isn’t what makes them interesting. And they have some semblance of brand recognition over here… meanwhile nobody asked for Cupra.

Heck if VAG wants to bring more brands to the states, they should focus on SEAT and Skoda, as they at least have compelling products with better reliability than Volkswagen – something extremely important in this land of long distance commutes, and sorely lacking in VAG’s current American lineup.

Last edited 22 days ago by Austin Vail
changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
22 days ago

I work for a dealership that has Cupras, I book them in for service. Very cool looking cars inside and out, well priced, apparently reasonable performance and yeah more interesting than the related VW and Audi and Skoda stuff sure. In fact I think the Formentor is arguably the best looking SUV out there and one of the best styled modern mainstream cars in recent years. However, These are the common issues on the Formentor – a model that had been out for 2 years before they launched it where I am that I would say 9/10 people report as issues. MMI screen just blanks out randomly – admittedly not just cupra. The sunroof control unit loses power so the lights and controls don’t work. The sunroof opens on its own accord. Also we are seeing some cars needing new brakes which is thousands of dollars here by their first service, which is at 12 months or 15000kms though that is rarer. I’d understand if it was a brand new car, not based on existing VAG architecture and it was a few months old but as a Brand launching 2 years on and still having literally every car I have booked in the last 8 months or so coming in with issues makes me think they either just couldn’t care or they are rushing cars out the door to fix in post a la F-35 program except sorting those issues 5 years later isn’t gonna work because by then unlike an aviation program you are then due your next model cycle. So yeah, hopefully if you get them in the US they have sorted out the many stupid little issues because right now from my own experience they are making Audis look reliable.

Phil
Phil
23 days ago

As someone who’s owned 2 mk3 leons, a leon fr (sporty trim, ok engine 150hp) and a cupra 300 (fwd 300 hp, now modified to 380hp)

The fun with them is driving around twisty undulating B roads (UK country roads), yes the cupra will beat golf r on a roll (same engine, less weight) and look good doing it, but traffic light drag racing isn’t it’s thing.

I see your getting the formentor which is awd, but it’s effectively a leon on stilts. But you only getting ev versions.

The only good formentor is the vz5, it’s the one with the rs3 engine.

Another commentor said they aren’t sporty, but like I said, down country lanes 300hp is more than enough especially when Its fwd, it’s abit more on edge the something like a golf r (which I found a bit bland) the only cupra leons that are awd for the st (estate/wagons), the hatch is fwd.

The born iirc is 201hp and rwd so thats also fun down country lanes.

Basically a long way of saying you’re getting short changed only getting ev suvs, and unless youve got some fun roads to drive around, you won’t get the benefit of a leon or born, as city/highway isn’t fun.

Matti Sillanpää
Matti Sillanpää
23 days ago

Jeah, I don’t think you’ll be getting much with Seat/Cupra. Boring crossovers and perhaps ID3 variant (which I guess would be the best bit).

Personally I think Skoda would suit US consumer better. Bigger, more conservative takes on VW models with more reliable bits.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
22 days ago

Yeah as resistant as I am to ever owning a VAG product, Skoda seems to be the exception where the reliability can be fine long-term. And their design language looks really handsome on all their vehicles. They could easily find a niche somewhere between Volvo and Subaru I think.

Honestly the only reason they don’t bring them here is probably the fact that nobody would be willing or able to pronounce the brand name correctly…

Aardvark775
Aardvark775
24 days ago

Do we really need another brand selling the same generic crossovers? A different name doesn’t make it interesting or cool.

Marteau
Marteau
24 days ago

Seat = cool, cupra = uncool
Cupra is even less cool cause it’s killing Seat.

Last edited 24 days ago by Marteau
AlfaWhiz
AlfaWhiz
23 days ago
Reply to  Marteau

Exactly this. Cupra brand is a product of pure marketing. They took what once was super cool and turned it into a sales and marketing “go to market” SUV extravaganza.

Marteau
Marteau
24 days ago

Cupra is litteraly the shittiest european brand, product wise, design wise, and customer wise.
I’m really up for our king goth take on their design.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
24 days ago

Regarding Cupra: I think having that brand here would be redundant. VAG already has VW, Audi, Bentley, Lambo, Porsche and (soon) Scout.

What does Cupra offer that couldn’t be offered under the VW brand using the GT, GTI, GLI or R trim? Nothing that I can think of.

This whole trend of turning models or trims into brands is stupid.

Honestly I’d be more excited about them bringing Skoda back to North America

Tarragon
Tarragon
24 days ago

Sure, the whole Ecclestone-era schtick of only allowing women near the cars if they were holding an umbrella …

I have idea what this means and some searching doesn’t clear it up.

any help here?

Tarragon
Tarragon
24 days ago
Reply to  Tarragon

Oh grid girls, got it.

Beached Wail
Beached Wail
24 days ago

About 10 years ago I was traveling in Switzerland and took a picture of a large outdoor ad for the Seat “Leon ST-Xperience 4×4” which appeared to be a Golf-sized hatch. The ad shows the Seat outdoors on “ice” with the Alps in the background.

The large caption read: JUAN SUCHT HEIDI

My American lizard brain immediately thought “He did? Huh! In the car?”

(It’s actually clever “Juan Seeks Heidi”, fyi)

Der Foo
Der Foo
24 days ago

Citroen.

It would be the number one Stellantis foreign brand in America. They’d be a better and more reliable car than whatever Alfa Romeo could provide.

Marteau
Marteau
24 days ago
Reply to  Der Foo

Peugeot, Citroen is switching to being the dacia from stellantis, with Fiat.
Peugeot would be the equivalent of Chrysler marketwise, with a full line up of better products.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
24 days ago

> A spicy crawfish etouffee and a simple bechamel both start out as a roux, if you catch my drift.

This might be the haughtiest low-culture sentence I’ve ever read and I love it.

RalliartWagon
RalliartWagon
24 days ago

Susie’s birth name is Stoddart, not Stoddard.

Greg
Greg
24 days ago

As soon as I saw that company was VW in reality, I laughed and noped right out.

This is gonna be like that “hello fellow cool kids” meme. You know they won’t let us have the “cool” ones, either. Probably the lost money from trying this will end VW America as we know it. Just leave us Audi and call it a day.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
24 days ago

don’t know much about SEAT/Cupra other than driving them on Gran Turismo, but they seem to take VW platforms and then build better looking cars than VW on them..so I’m down. The reliability can’t be worse-right?

Lincoln does seem to be on a roll-kinda hard to believe they aren’t doing better but I guess they have years of crappy pointless cars ruining their brand identity for people to get over. A buddy of mine has a 2016 MKX w/ the ecoboost engine and loves it even if that gen still didn’t have great styling. But fast reasonably atheletic handling and now good styling to go with it, if I was into big american luxury cars I can’t see buying almost anything cadillac makes outside of a blackwing over a lincoln.

Citrus
Citrus
24 days ago

The last name “Hallmark” just made me think that Aston Martin was going home to their small town and will meet a hunky Christmas tree salesman and discover the true meaning of Christmas.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
24 days ago
Reply to  Citrus

You should check out the Mallhark channel, where a hunky Christmas tree sells the true meaning of Christmas to small towns. Shit gets weird in the 11pm – 5am programming block.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
24 days ago

Horner strikes me as such a smarmy bastard that I’m inclined to believe any such allegations against him. Unfair, maybe, but I’ve known a lot of “those guys” (way too many, actually) and they all set off the same alarms.

As for what brand to bring over? Dacia. Without a question. And don’t add a damn thing to them; we need cheap new cars.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
24 days ago

The US needs Lada’s so Altima’s are not the most dangerous thing on the road….

Robn
Robn
24 days ago

Cupra in the US lol. We need another (unknown to most here) brand like we need another overpriced electric crossover (aka, we don’t.) I give it two years max.

Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira
24 days ago

Seat has made very few cars that are even remotely interesting, ad now they’re just rebodied VW products w generic VW Group styling. I never understood the appeal. Then they created a sub brand the world did not need. I’d rather see Renault, Citroen or Alpine here.

Horizontally Opposed
Horizontally Opposed
24 days ago

100% Dacia

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
24 days ago

Sounds like FIA could stand to lose a few dicks.

What brand would I like to bring to the US? It’s more of a bring back: Suzuki.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
24 days ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Jimny, please! (o゚v゚)ノ

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