Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • Comprehensive choice of engines
  • Equal spread of petrol and diesel
  • Good performance across the range

There’s a choice of six familiar VW Group engines in the Ateca, including the punchy yet frugal 1.4-litre ‘cylinder-on-demand’ petrol and the 2.0-litre diesel in two different tunes.

SEAT Ateca TSI petrol engines

Kicking things off is a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine with 115hp and 200Nm of torque. It doesn’t promise significantly cheaper running costs than the next size up – the 1.5-litre – despite taking 11 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph.

We’ve driven the 1.5-litre EcoTSI with 150hp and 250Nm of torque in a number of VW Group cars and it consistently impresses, especially in the Ateca. When you’re cruising or coasting it can shut down two of its four cylinders to help improve economy and as such is almost as green as the entry-level unit.

Plus, unlike that engine, you will crack the benchmark sprint in 8.5 seconds and feels much more sprightly in everyday driving. It’s especially noticeable when you’re on the motorway, for instance. There’s a choice of six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG automatic gearboxes with this engine.

At the top of the range is a 190hp 2.0-litre TSI, available exclusively with all-wheel drive and a DSG gearbox. With 320Nm of torque it’s easily the punchiest petrol engine in the line-up, however, it never feels as quick as its 7.9-second 0-62mph suggests.  It's fairly coarse at high revs, too, and doesn't have the silky smoothness you might expect from a 2.0-litre petrol engine.  If you want an even faster Ateca, you'll want to head straight for the Cupra Ateca, boasting 300hp. 

SEAT Ateca TDI diesel engines

Diesels are popular in family crossovers, and as such the Ateca is offered with three diesels, kicking off with a 1.6-litre TDI. The 1.6-litre is the company car driver’s choice, with 115hp and low claimed running costs. With 250Nm of torque it offers the same pulling power as the more powerful 1.4-litre EcoTSI, but it can’t match its performance, taking 11.5 seconds to get to 62mph from a standstill.

You can have your 2.0-litre diesel with either 150hp or 190hp, the former making up the majority of private sales. In the 150hp 2.0-litre TDI, 340Nm of torque means good mid-range performance tempered with fuel economy on a par with the less powerful 1.6-litre unit, despite coming with 4Drive all-wheel drive as standard.

This version will go from 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds and onto a 122mph top speed.  The more powerful 190hp 2.0-litre TDI version comes with a seven-speed DSG auto and 4Drive only, in trim, but thanks to 400Nm of torque and a 7.5 second 0-62mph time make it feels very sprightly indeed, with sharp and timely shifts from the automatic gearbox and a purposeful, bassy engine note.

Gearboxes in the SEAT Ateca

To prevent too much confusion, here’s a simple break-down of the engines and gearboxes available. The 1.0-litre TSI, 1.4 EcoTSI, 1.6 TDI and 2.0 TDI (150hp) all come with slick six-speed manual gearboxes. The 1.4 also comes with the option of seven-speed DSG, while this is the only gearbox you can get in the two 190hp 2.0-litre units, whether it’s petrol or diesel you opt for.

Both gearboxes perform well although we think the auto suits the Ateca’s nature better, and four-wheel drive is handy but in no way essential for a car that will likely spend most of its time on tarmac.

Engines no longer available in the SEAT Ateca

When the Ateca launched, there was a 1.4-litre EcoTSI engine fitted where the 1.5-litre version now sits. With identical performance figures and the same cylinder shut-down system, it was a smooth and punchy performer that was still capable of decent fuel economy.  It's well worth a look if you're looking at a used model.

Comfort

  • Handles well for a big car
  • Feels a lot like a regular hatchback
  • Ride is firm but still comfortable

The SEAT Ateca is built on the same mechanical platform as the Leon hatchback and shares a lot of its handling characteristics, which is only a good thing, as the Leon is one of the best-handling family hatchbacks on sale. The ride is firm but not overly so, remaining comfortable (helped by the super-squashy seats) and this means the body doesn’t roll around in corners like other SUVs.

Grip is good, and the steering, although quite light, reacts quickly to small movements making easy work of manoeuvres in town. It also helps the Ateca to feel agile in a series of corners if you do find yourself wanting to be a bit more enthusiastic on your way home from doing the school run.

Top-spec cars get the SEAT Drive Profile, which allows the driver to tailor the steering, throttle response and gearshifts (in automatic cars) with Normal, Comfort, Sport, Eco and Individual driving modes. All-wheel drive cars add Offroad and Snow modes to that list.

There are no adaptive suspension so whichever mode you’re in, the ride remains the same. The weight of the steering alters though, with Sport mode feeling purposefully weighty.