Friday 15 July 2016
The Seat Ateca is the first SUV for the Spanish manufacturer. Is it any good? We grab the keys and get behind the wheel to find out.
The Ateca is the first SUV ever made by Spanish carmaker Seat, so on the whole it’s an entirely new product – albeit one that uses the familiar Volkswagen Group MQB platform. The car was engineered and designed at Seat’s headquarters at Martorell, Barcelona.
While it might be the first foray into a new sector for Seat, it’s not going to be the last, with four new models – including other SUVs – coming in the next few years.
First impressions of the Seat are that it’s not a Seat at all. Cover up the badging and you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for an Audi Q3 – and indeed on our first drive of it through Barcelona, many people had to take a good close look at the Seat badging, just to check.
It’s quite an impressively premium-looking vehicle all round really, with sharp lines and signature LED lights. Unlock the car and it casts light puddles on the floor under the door mirrors with the Ateca name and outline. It continues to the inside with oodles of soft-touch material in the upper cabin and an up-to-date interior design that you’ll recognise from the Seat Leon. All-in-all, the Ateca gives over a pretty expensive vibe.
There’s plenty of leg, head and shoulder room in the Ateca for four adults, although jamming a fifth occupant into the centre rear seat will cause a few squabbles – particularly when it comes to straddling the central transmission tunnel. This isn’t any worse a situation than in anything else in the class though.
A 510-litre boot is again ballpark for the class, and although it falls to 485 litres if you specify the 4DRIVE four-wheel drive system on your Ateca, it’s still comparable to rivals. The proportions of the space are decent enough, with a couple of cubbies, and there’s one-touch release levers for the rear seats along with an optional ‘virtual pedal’ hands-free boot release. The rear seats don’t fold flat though and they leave a pronounced step in the folded position.
There’s no problem getting seated and comfy in the Ateca, with a good driving position giving you a decent, elevated view of the road ahead.
All models are paired with familiar family engine and transmission tech, with TSI petrols ranging from 111bhp to 146bhp and TDI diesels at 111hp, 146bhp and 184bhp. The higher-power diesels can be matched to seven-speed DSG automatics, but our test car is a six-speed manual.
With such widely-used greasy bits, you know what to expect in terms of performance, with 60mph coming up in around 11 seconds for the lowest-powered cars and falling to a brisk 7.5 seconds for the quickest.
Out on the road there’s a clear sporty intent to the Ateca, which handles the twists and turns with very little fuss whatsoever – more so with the 4DRIVE cars that use more sophisticated rear suspension set-ups. This does translate to a little bit of firmness and the odd protest over expansion joints and ripples, but it doesn’t stray into uncomfortable.
If anything, the around-town manners are more impressive and the Ateca handles city streets and traffic with ease.
Broadly, the Ateca represents pretty good value once you step away from the entry-level cars. The S specification model may come in at just £17,990, but the only real creature comfort is air conditioning.
Move higher up the range and you get access to toys like LED daytime running lights, dual zone climate control and the central eight-inch touchscreen. Top specification XCELLENCE cars get multicolour interior ambient lighting, electric opening tailgate with ‘virtual pedal’ hands-free operation and full LED headlights and tail lights.
There’s a pretty broad spread on the options list too, with a panoramic sunroof and a top view camera to give a 360-degree image of your surroundings at manoeuvring speeds. The Ateca also majors on driving assists, with a traffic jam assist function that can control acceleration, braking and steering in slow moving traffic, adaptive cruise control, lane assist, tiredness recognition system and rear cross traffic alert.
Whichever options and specification you opt for though, it’s going to be hard to get a rival vehicle to match it at the same price point.
Anyone who’s in the target market for a family-sized crossover SUV – which, judging by the proliferation of them on the UK’s roads, is just about everyone.
Even though it’s quite late to the game, the Ateca could prove to be one of the best of the bunch.
Model: Seat Ateca XCellence 2.0 TDI 150PS 4Drive
Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel producing 148bhp and 251lb/ft
Transmission: 6-speed manual, driving all four wheels
Performance: Top speed 122mph, 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds
Economy: 57.6mpg combined
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