Cupra, the Spanish car maker spawned from SEAT's performance cars, has returned to its roots with a new virtual concept car designed as a "provocation". The Batmobile-esque Dark Rebel has many traditional sports car design features, including a long nose and a big rear spoiler, but there's a fundamental twist on convention: the car doesn't yet exist in the real world. Instead, Cupra is using the vehicle to promote its move into the "metaverse" - a digital world through which the brand hopes to connect with younger customers.
Sports car proportions
The Dark Rebel is immediately identifiable as a sports car, with its long bonnet, sharp front end and rear-set cabin. And although there is a glasshouse - the driver can see through the windshield - the whole car looks to be one solid mass.
That's true of the lights, too, which follow Cupra's fresh triangular design language also seen on the new Tavascan SUV. Designed to "emerge from the body," the lights sit either side of the illuminated Cupra logo, which is also a Tavascan feature. And as if that weren't enough Tavascan-inspired design, the Dark Rebel also gets a sharp front end inspired by the Tavascan's interior, which is supported by a central 'spine' linking the dashboard and the transmission tunnel.
Add in the dayglo colours, illumination in the door panels and the massive wheels, and the Dark Rebel looks decidedly futuristic. It's the same story inside, where Cupra says the "radical" cabin is designed for the driver. Occupants sit in bucket seats, while there's a "progressive gamifying steering wheel" designed to look a bit like a PlayStation controller.
As well as a forward-thinking design, the Dark Rebel comes with plenty of futuristic technology, including holographic displays that appear to be floating on the steering column. And, of course, the bright colours add some extra visual intrigue.
Yet that isn't the real technological showcase. After all, this car currently only exists in a virtual world, and that's where much of the focus lies. Cupra is trying to communicate with buyers, and particularly younger people, through its own "metaverse" - a virtual world in which users can create their own futuristic avatar, then explore the Cupra offering.
It's there that customers can configure their own Dark Rebel, sitting the car in one of three different virtual environments. The Exponential Square is said to be "inspired by natural elements... and raw textures and earthy colours can be experienced and challenged by the user," while the Exponential Cube is inspired by a vision of racing in the future, with neon-like colours and "parametric geometries". Finally, the Exponential Infinite is intended to be "dream-like" and "ethereal".
Customers design the show car
By using Cupra's virtual configurator, the public will be informing the final design of the Dark Rebel show car, with Cupra integrating some of the most popular design features. However, the Spanish company has not yet said when we can expect the Dark Rebel to make its physical debut.
"After five years of building the Cupra brand in a nowadays world, it is time to think about the next step, our next dream," said Wayne Griffiths, CEO of Cupra. "The Cupra Dark Rebel is the ultimate interpretation of our vision."