Seat Ateca – their first SUV
No manufacturer can be considered complete without a small SUV/crossover in its range these days. The Seat Ateca is the Spanish manufacturer’s first foray into this most lucrative of market’s, though, so can it really be any good?
Seat is widely regarded as the youthful, sporty arm of the VW giant. So, although the Ateca is based on the parent company’s MQB platform, it needed to be less dowdy, – ‘cooler’ than a Tiguan or a Kodiaq.
Seat’s design identity is very much based around the acute angle and crease, epitomised with those signature DRLs. The Ateca’s look is defined by a strong, sharp shoulder line. It starts from the smaller top grille, sweeps across the top of the headlights and maintains a near-horizontal path to the top of the rear lights. Some lines just work; this is one of them.
The Ateca’s profile is more car-like than SUV which keeps it on the sportier side. Keeping the shiny bits topside and the glass-housing sleek and minimal draws your attention away from its increased height.
Impressive interior quality
Get behind the wheel of the Ateca and you could honestly have just stepped inside an Audi. The switchgear and plastics are of the highest quality and design. There’s a few well placed features, such as the air-vent surrounds which ape the car’s angular DRLs, to remind you you’re definitely in a Seat.
The leather seats in our range-topping Xcellence model are no slouchy armchairs; they’re firm and grippy. Again, this points towards the more driver-focussed nature of the Ateca.
Spacious rear seats
Rear passengers may be surprised with just how much head and legroom on offer, there’s more than you’d warrant from the exterior. The Ateca doesn’t bother with raised, theatre-style seating that’s so popular these days and the taller amongst us all be grateful they didn’t as it allows for so much extra headroom. The downside, of course, is that children who no longer require car-seats may not have much of a view out of the side windows.
The infotainment system that’s standard fitment on Xcellence and SE Technology spec Atecas is excellent. It’s one of the clearest, most user-friendly and sensibly thought out we’ve experienced. The only slight annoyance from a driver’s point of view are the eco tips that occasionally pop up on the dashboard display if your driving is less than perfect. It may be possible to disable them, but we couldn’t work out how.
It’s sometimes the little things that make the difference and the Ateca is full of them. Do we really need Ateca emblazoned puddle-lamps or a digital odometer that gracefully rolls from number to number like an analogue one? Probably not, but they add a certain je ne sais quoi that’s very appealing.
Wide choice of engines
The Ateca comes with a choice of two petrol engines; 1.0l, 114hp or 1.4l, 148hp. There’s also two diesel engines to choose from; 1.6l that also produces 114hp or a 2.0l diesel with a choice of 148hp or 187hp. There’s a choice of either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG auto transmission, but the auto is limited to the higher output 1.4l petrol and highest powered 2.0l diesel cars
If you want your Ateca to come equipped with Seat’s 4Drive 4WD system, that’s currently limited to the 2.0l diesel powered cars only.
Economy ranges from 51.4mpg to 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions from 113g/km CO2 to 135g/km CO2. All engines meet he EU6 plus standard.
Our Ateca was equipped with the 148bhp diesel engine and manual ‘box. The engine is smooth enough and not overly rattly or loud, it suited the Ateca well. In terms of economy, this particular Ateca with its 4×4 system returns 55.4 mpg combined and emits 129g/km CO2
Its 340Nm torque is probably enough for towing lighter items, but the most powerful Ateca produces 400Nm and would be more suited to the job. The 6-speed manual transmission is an absolute joy, though, combining precise gear-changes with just the right weight of feel perfectly.
On the road, the Ateca shows again what Seat are all about. This is quite clearly a family ‘lifestyle’ vehicle, not really designed with kissing apexes in mind but the way it handles is fantastic.
Even on wet, slippery roads, the Ateca is quick to respond to steering input and easy to point precisely where you want it to go, especially with the 4Drive system set to sport mode. If you’re worried that the trade-off for this sublime handling is a stiff, uncompromising ride – don’t be; Seat have set the Ateca up to truly combine the best of both worlds.
If there is a fault to be drawn with the Ateca’s driving experience, the brakes can grab slightly; a delicate touch is advised.
On a more responsible note, the Ateca meets the Euro NCAP 5 star safety rating which is obviously a priority in a family orientated vehicle. Every Ateca comes with multiple airbags, stability and traction control, seatbelt reminders, tyre pressure monitors and even tiredness recognition.
Front assist also comes as standard which detects the car ahead slowing down and brakes for you if you don’t. Thankfully there’s an element of common sense to the Ateca’s system, though, unlike some manufacturers’ which are overly intrusive.
So, our original question was – can Seat really have got the crossover right first time, is it that good? Well, the answer is a resounding YES! Seat have combined quality, looks and fun in the right measures and they’ve absolutely nailed it.
By Ben Harrington
Specifications: Seat Ateca Xcellence, Engine – 2.0l TDi, Layout – Front engine, 4WD, Transmission – six speed manual, Power – 148bhp, Acceleration – 0-62mph – 9.0s, Maximum Speed – 122mph max, Economy – 55.4mpg combined, Emissions – 129g/km CO2, Price – £28,120 OTR, Lease from – £177.99 per month