SEAT shows Ateca’s the way to do it!

SEAT debuts in the compact sport utility vehicle market with the stylish and spacious Ateca and is l

SEAT debuts in the compact sport utility vehicle market with the stylish and spacious Ateca and is looking to go head-to-head with established class leaders. - Credit: SEAT

SEAT is aiming to make a big impression in the compact SUV sector with its agile and attractive Ateca, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

SEAT's Ateca is the new kid on the sport utility vehicle block but is not afraid to mix it with the big boys by targeting the big-selling Nissan Qashqai with strong pricing, kit and residuals.

It's also attracted the highest level of interest for any new SEAT and the largest pre-launch order bank which bodes well for the start of a new era of growth for SEAT. As its third pillar of alongside Ibiza and Leon, Ateca will help boost market coverage from half to three-quarters.

Looks and image

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It shares Volkswagen Group's new modular platform with the latest VW Tiguan, is built in the Czech Republic by Skoda but, 100% designed and developed by SEAT, shares the marque's strong, sharp-suited styling with bold creases and curves and triangular light signatures.

In a market sector where image counts for a lot, the Ateca doesn't disappoint especially in dark, bold colours such as Samoa orange metallic.

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Under the bonnet

And, as part of the Volkswagen Group, there's a good range of petrol and diesel engines.

The new 115PS 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol is ideal if you do a lot of urban driving, perky at low revs and punchy in the mid-range with a throaty engine note when wound up.

If you want more go the 150PS 1.4-litre turbo petrol unit, which cuts to two cylinders on a light throttle to boost economy, is usefully flexible and frugual but sprightly when you put your foot down.

Diesels will be big sellers with a 150PS 2.0-litre unit currently only available with four-wheel drive but will be joined by a front-wheel drive model. A 190PS 2.0 TDI is limited to 4Drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The big fleet seller will be the front-wheel drive 115PS 1.6 TDI which doesn't have the low-down pull of the bigger diesels but feels sweeter.

How it drives

Not many models put the sport into sport utility vehicle but the Ateca is as good as they come. The suspension is a well-judged balance between ride and roadholding - firm enough to be agile and manage body roll without jolting and jerking over bumps and lumps.

The Ateca is no hot-hatch but it's the most entertaining compact SUV and rewarding enough not to leave keen drivers feeling short-changed.

Space and comfort

You'll be amazed by this compact SUV's spacious interior with oodles of legroom in the back and huge headroom.

It's not at the expense of load-lugging with front-wheel drive models having a 510-litre boot space and four-wheel drive models a still useful 485 litres. The deep, boxy boot swallows large cases upright and an optional £115 double floor panel slots in at sill level to create a long floor with the 60/40 rear seats folded.

While roomy, the Ateca does not have sliding rear seats with reclining backs like some rivals.

At the wheel

The Ateca has the high driving position and a good range of steering wheel and seat adjustment and user-friendly controls, a responsive touch screen and large, clear dials help make this SUV naturally easy to drive.

Nor can you fault the overall quality of the cabin with soft-touch plastics in the main contact points and brightwork highlights but the dark, standard trim makes the Ateca's interior feel sombre compared to the flair shown on the outside.


S, SE, SE Technology and Xcellence models are offered but it's worth stepping up to SE for the extra kit and useful creature comforts, enough to satisfy most owners, but it's a shame that it's not offered with the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine.

Final say

SEAT is buzzing about the Ateca, and rightly so. It looks good, drives well, has loads of space, is priced right and predicted to hold its money well. There's not much you could ask for.

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