Daytona 500 (NASCAR), Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (moto), and Indy 50 (IndyCar). All prestigious and recognisable racing events in the world. However, what captured the public’s eye recently is the provocative head-to-head between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the 2021 Formula 1. Tensions were high as Verstappen took the 2021 driver’s title due to him being the first Dutch winner to obtain this title after a 4-year win streak to Hamilton.
With this new change of record, it brings the question of what other changes are going to commence within the racing industry? Cupra is sure to see that progressive change starts to take place in the 21st century. Cupra, founded in 1985 and formerly known as SEAT Sport, is a high-performance motorsport car that stands for Cup Racing. Showing SEAT’s successful connection to motorsport.
Cupra’s UrbanRebel Concept is expected to be a production car in 2025. It made its first appearance at the 2021 IAA Munich International Motor Show. This car proved to its audience how “racing and urban mobility can be fused to form a progressive and groundbreaking all-electric vehicle” (Cupra, 2022). The speculative design of this vehicle is significant to contemporary society and the racing industry as it represents a change and evolution in the brand. For Cupra, this design is a strategic project. Unveiling how they are going to combat climate issues and stay within the racing sector. The Volkswagen group aims to produce more than 500,000 electric cars per year. Ranging from £20-£25,000 these EV’s make electromobility accessible to the public and hit their own green target deals. This puts pressure on the EV market as it’s a very competitive price for electric vehicles. Other companies that have gained traction in the past few years due to their electrical innovation are: Tesla, Audi, Jaguar, Porsche, Ford Mustang, Kia, Skoda, Hyundai, and Fiat.
“The CUPRA UrbanRebel Concept injects a gamification look to the racing car” (Jorge Diez, Design Director at CUPRA). Diez’s inspiration for the car came from three crucial elements. The primary element is that Diez wanted to inflict some form of emotional feeling into the design. He stated that he wanted the car to stand out and be different, this will help to bring those emotional feelings forward when owning a Cupra. Another significant element that Diez stated he wanted to bring forward was the element of challenge. He declared that what he wanted for Cupra was to path their own way within the industry. As a result of this they designed the car thinking of the next generation. A generation that is fully connected, digitally oriented and cares about the planet that they live on. Therefore, the Cupra UrbanRebel is a combination of sportiness, electrification, and environmentally friendly aspects due to being fully electric. The final element that Diez wanted to reinforce was that the creation of the car needed to represent the design values of the future. Which, presently, is hard to conceptualise due to never fully knowing what the values of the future hold or what they could potentially be as the future is ever-changing, adapting, and growing.
Design Features and Aesthetics
The UrbanRebel has been described as Chameleonic. The multi-layered tricolour with iridescent finishes, followed by neon yellow accents and green and violet hues all bounce off of one another and change depending on how light hits the vehicle. These primary colours allow for stereotypes on futurism, sci-fi and gaming to really shine through. On Cupra’s official website they state that “This multi-layer body colour reinforces the main lines of the car and pushes the code into a highly emotional direction that blends pure electrification with the digital era” (Cupra, 2022).
The full design of the car is more compact, with a prominent dynamic feel. Diez wanted to foreground the origin of this car into the design. There is a street in Barcelona that crosses the city that is called The Diagonal. This street is the fastest way to get into the heart of the city. As the Cupra is being created in Barcelona this is a historical element that Diez wanted to include in the physicality of the vehicle. Visually, you can see this when you first glance at the car. There are diagonal lines running through the body of the car, each meeting at the rear of it. Creating a streamlined visual effect in the body work. In which Jorge Diez states “actually makes the car move forward”.
A prominent element of the car is the Shark Nose. In which the front of the vehicle has a closed end – much like the nose of a shark. This front was created using negative surface. This is to produce a bold and strong expression. This design feature also allows for the vehicle to look streamline, as if heading into the future at a fast speed. Additionally, the triangular headlights help to reinforce this streamlined look within the shark nose section of the vehicle. Diez stated that ‘the face is who you are’, therefore designing and creating a face that is recognisable is crucial for the Cupra brand. They did this through the use of triangle headlights. In hopes of the public recognising the specific design of the headlights as it isn’t similar to any other brand.
As stated before, Jorge Diez wanted the design to fit the digital era. This is why there are angular themes throughout the body of the car. Noticeably, there are dots placed on the bodywork, these represent pixels and emphasise the main lines of the vehicle in a futuristic way. This adaptation of current racing car designs helps to make the Cupra look and feel like it has more of a progressive aesthetic for the combination of the racing industry and all-electric vehicles.
All of the elements and features states Diez and the Cupra team intentionally created to bring emotions and boost desire within and for the mini EV.
It is likely that the production version of the UrbanRebel will be substantially less powerful. As with the ID 3 and Cupra Born hatches, it is likely to use a single motor driving the rear axle. The plans for the production and release of the EV had to be pushed back a further two years than the original set date that the Volkswagen group had decided as the target price of £17,000 was un-achievable with the current electronic technology that was being used in cars.
This car’s radical and innovative design leads to an exciting future for SEAT and its sister Cupra as it promises urban renovation whilst incorporating social and environmental issues that need to be challenged and faced within the 21st century for vehicles.
My prediction for this concept when it is developed into a road design is that it will be a lot tamer than the speculative racing concept. Urban EV is appealing to the public because of the desire to own something that is so admirable. On the other hand, a road version will have different needs compared to the concept designed specifically for racing.