SEAT’s mid-range SUV is sharp to drive and look at
- Sharp yet smart styling
- High-tech kit list
- Practical interior
- Good to drive
- Slightly dull interior
- Firm ride on some models
- No adaptive dampers
SEAT might have been late to the SUV market when it launched the Ateca crossover in 2016, but few could argue it’s wasted any time playing catch-up. Combining excellent practicality, keen pricing and sharp handling, the Ateca is a strong debut SUV for the Spanish manufacturer.
Now joined by the smaller Arona and soon-to-arrive Skoda Kodiaq-based Tarraco, it sits right at the heart of manufacturer’s SUV range and goes head to head with rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Ford Kuga. Read on for more on why we rate the SEAT Ateca so highly.
SEAT Ateca: seven trim levels including FR
You can pick from SE, SE Technology, SE L, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence and Xcellence Lux specifications, plus there was a limited run of First Edition cars from available at launch.
The latter uses information crowd-sourced from 13,000 people during a competition called “Designed by You” and was packed with exciting gadgets including Traffic Jam Assist, which drives the car for you on congested city streets.
Standard cars come with 17-inch alloys, air-con, LED daytime-running lights, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, climate control, electronic parking brake, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and four drive modes, but you’ll want to move further up the range for a more plush-feeling Ateca.
There’s a whole raft of safety and assistance systems that can be added as well, making your driving experience as stress-free as possible.
Six engines - three petrol and three diesel
A hardcore Cupra Ateca is on the way, but that's a separate make now. For 2018, the line-up consists of your usual choice of petrol and diesel engines in a wide range of outputs.
Petrol-wise there’s a fuel-sipping 1.0-litre TSI unit with three cylinders and a 1.5-litre EcoTSI that can shut down half its cylinders when they’re not needed to maximise economy.
Sitting at the top of the range are a pair of 2.0-litre engines, each with 190hp, petrol or diesel.
The rest of the diesel range is made up of familiar 1.6-litre TDI and 2.0-litre TDI diesels, but you can learn more about the engine range in the Performance section of this review.
Does the Ateca drive like a SEAT?
Alongside those sharp creases in the bodywork, an equally sharp drive has become something of a SEAT hallmark.
We’re happy to report that the Ateca carries on this tradition with a firm but supple ride and steering that reacts quickly to wheel movements. In short, it’s great fun for what is essentially a sensible family car.
Can those good looks and sporty characteristics do enough to drag customers away from default SUVs like the Nissan Qashqai, though?
As of March 2018, the Cupra performance designation for SEAT cars became an independent sub-brand in its own right.
Seven Cupra models will be launched between now and 2020, with the Ateca the first. Powered by a 300hp 2.0-litre TSI engine, it features a seven-speed DSG gearbox and all-wheel drive as well as being capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds and hitting a 152mph top speed. The Cupra Ateca is set to go on sale in late 2018.
The Parkers Verdict
The SEAT Ateca offers sharp styling, fairly compact dimensions and one of the most spacious interiors of any car of its size.
There’s wide choice of engines to choose from, too, which boosts its appeal as a driver’s car, and not just a family runaround. Add to that a well-equipped interior that feels well built (if a little dull) and it’s an excellent proposition.