SEAT Ateca road test
The Ateca is stylish, practical and great value.
What is it?
The new Seat Ateca is the brand’s first compact SUV, a rival for the Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Tucson. There’s a choice of two- and four-wheel-drive versions.
How safe is it?
Very, judging by Euro NCAP’s five-star rating. There are lots of high-tech safety features as standard, with further driver aids, like blind spot detection, available as optional extras.
Who should buy one?
According to Seat, ‘wealthy homesteads’ and ‘modern parents’. According to us, anyone in the market for this type of car will be impressed by the Seat’s value and practicality.
Road test by David Motton 6 December 2016
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Seat is the Volkswagen group’s sporty brand, so the Ateca should put the ‘sport’ into Sport Utility Vehicle. For the most part it does, with tidy handling and strong performance.
The 113bhp 1.0 TSI petrol engine is the surprise package of the Ateca range. A 1.0-litre capacity might seem impossibly small to pull a car of this size, but it’s refreshingly lively. Thanks to turbocharging there’s plenty of mid-range pulling power so the 1.0 TSI is happy enough on A-roads and motorways as well as around town.
There’s also a 148bhp 1.4 TSI, which offers more pep with only a small penalty at the fuel pumps. But when the 1.0 TSI is so good, we wouldn’t rush to choose the larger engine.
The most popular choice with company car drivers is expected to be the 113bhp 1.6 diesel, as low emissions (from 116g/km of CO2) make for affordable tax bills. It performs well enough, although there’s a persistent drone at motorway speeds which never quite disappears.
We prefer the 2.0-litre diesels. The least powerful has 148bhp, and much more mid-range punch than the 1.6. It makes for a more relaxing drive, as you need to change gear less often and can rely on the engine’s flexibility. It’s not a whisper-quiet engine if worked hard but there’s little noise from under the bonnet at a steady 70mph.
The more powerful 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel really shifts, with near hot-hatch acceleration. Both 2.0-litre cars have four-wheel drive (although a front-wheel-drive version of the less powerful engine is coming in 2017), so either should make a good choice for anyone with a caravan or a horsebox to tow.
Whichever engine is chosen, the Ateca drives well. It’s satisfying rather than out-and-out thrilling, but the Seat corners neatly at sensible speeds and feels stable on twisting roads. That’s especially true of the 2.0-litre diesels which have more sophisticated rear suspension However, the trade off is a rather firm ride. A more supple feel over choppy surfaces would be welcome.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
In terms of passenger and luggage space, the Ateca is right up with its roomiest rivals. The driver and front-seat passenger have plenty of room to get comfortable, and a good range of adjustment should allow both short and tall drivers to get comfortable and enjoy a clear view out.
The dashboard is well laid out, and there’s an easy-to-use eight-inch touchscreen on all but the most basic trim level. The interior feels well screwed together, although the plastics are less well finished low down on the dash and doors.
In the back of the car, head and legroom are both very generous, with enough space for a 6’3” passenger to sit behind an equally tall driver. There are air vents between the front seats to blow chilled air over those in the back – something too many rivals neglect. Boot space is 510 litres (485 litres for 4×4 versions). That’s up to 80 litres more than the Nissan Qashqai’s capacity.
There’s a long list of safety kit fitted to the Ateca, with seven airbags, stability control, and low-speed autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection (the car will brake if someone steps out in front of the car and the driver doesn’t spot them). Further driver aids are available as extras, including lane assist. The Ateca scored five stars in Euro NCAP tests.
Entry-level S cars have 16-inch alloys, height adjustable passenger seat, air conditioning, and five-inch touchscreen. SE trim brings digital radio, climate control and a larger eight-inch touchscreen. SE Technology models add satnav and full LED headlights. For leather upholstery, rain-sensing wipers, sports seats and more, choose Xcellence spec.
The Ateca is very good value, especially when you consider its specification. Prices start from £17,990, which undercuts the cheapest Nissan Qashqai by £555. The most fuel-efficient version is the 1.6 TDI, with an official combined figure of 65.7mpg. However, the 1.0 TSI petrol achieves 54.3mpg on 16- or 17-inch alloys. Resale values are predicted to be strong.
The Ateca is stylish, practical and great value.
AT A GLANCE:
Price: £21,580 as tested
Performance: 0-62mph in 11 seconds
Economy: 53.3mpg combined
Insurance: Group 9E
Tax: Band D (£0 then £110)
Figures for the 1.0 TSI Ecomotive SE Technology