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First drive: SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.

First drive: SEAT Ateca
SEAT enters the crossover and SUV race with its Qashqai-rivalling Ateca.

 



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SEAT Ateca

4 4 4 4 4

Hatchbacks and MPVs just don't cut it anymore; every brand needs an SUV or crossover in its showrooms. SEAT finally obliges with its new Ateca, set to help the Spanish firm to continue its recent sales growth.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: SEAT Ateca 2.0 TDI 4Drive manual 150
Price: starts at 17,990 on-the-road
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV crossover
CO2 emissions: 128g/km
Top speed: 121mph
0-62mph: 8.6 seconds
Power: 150hp at 3,500rpm
Torque: 340Nm at 1,750- to 3,000rpm

What's this?

SEAT's first foray into the compact SUV segment, and one that'll be quickly followed by a smaller model and eventually another one above it. What's surprising is how long it has taken SEAT to offer the Ateca. The marketplace for SUVs and crossovers is absolutely exploding, as people move out of conventional hatchbacks and compact MPVs. The Ateca's most obvious rival is the car that effectively created the genre, the Nissan Qashqai. It has been around long enough to be in its second-generation, its omnipresence creating an opportunity for SEAT, appealing to buyers wanting a compact SUV, but not going for the default option.

Like the rest of the SEAT line-up, the Ateca borrows heavily from its Volkswagen parent. So under that sharply styled exterior is basically a Volkswagen Tiguan, which is no bad thing. SEAT's engineers have obviously busied themselves making it drive as they think a SEAT should, which means a little bit sportier, though with an eye on pricing SEAT also offers the Ateca with an entry-level engine that's currently not offered in its Volkswagen cousin. The range includes a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol unit with either 115hp or 150hp, as well as a 1.4 TSI four-cylinder petrol and a pair of diesels, in 1.6- and 2.0-litre capacities - that 2.0 TDI offered with 150hp or 190hp. Only a handful of models will have four-wheel drive, including that range-topping diesel, which is 4x4 only. It also has a standard DSG automatic transmission with an extra ratio over the six-speed manual. That will sell in tiny numbers; the big volume is likely to be around the 1.6 TDI and 1.0 TSI in middling specification with front-wheel drive and manual transmissions.

How does it drive?

SEAT has long been touted as a sporting brand, and there's some credence to that when driving the Ateca. It makes its key Qashqai rival feel pretty ordinary in comparison, the SEAT's steering sharper, the turn-in keener and the ride that little bit tauter. It's unlikely you'll be flinging it about on the way to school, but fundamentally it all feels good, at least on the 2.0 TDI four-wheel drive model available to test on an early preview drive.

With the four-wheel drive comes a choice of six driving modes, whereas front-wheel drive models do without the snow and off-road settings. Changing between the settings doesn't result in any great differences in the driving experience, so the best option is to leave it in normal, or, if you can live with a flatter response from the accelerator in the pursuit of economy, press Eco. Unlike its Tiguan relation, no amount of fiddling with the drive modes does anything to the suspension, as the Ateca is not offered with any sort of adaptive damping presently. Nonetheless, even on optional 19-inch alloy wheels it rides decently enough, and resists roll in the bends. We'll need to wait to see how the front-wheel drive models steer, as they have simpler rear suspension, but the fundamentals seem right here, and SEAT usually sets up its models to provide decent entertainment behind the wheel, regardless of specification.

Space is good for all occupants, the boot decently sized and accessed, while SEAT's usual clear instrumentation is apparent here - as is all the latest connectivity. Equipment levels have yet to be confirmed, but SEAT's on a sales push with the Ateca, so expect them to be comprehensive and generous, right from the entry point. The 2.0 TDI is a familiar unit, pulling strongly and offering good economy, but if there's a pick of the range it's the 1.4 TSI, which doesn't trail those diesels too much on mpg and emissions, but is much smoother and more enjoyable to drive. The six-speed manual is slick enough, helping the Ateca be among the more entertaining SUVs out there, which bodes well for the inevitable faster versions that will likely come.

Verdict

It's taken the Spanish firm a while to get a competitor ready for the burgeoning SUV and crossover marketplace, but the Ateca looks to be pitched just right. With an attractive design, decent space, economy and a fine drive it's an appealing alternative to the established norm.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Kyle Fortune - 19 Apr 2016









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2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.

2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.



2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.
 

2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.
 

2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.
 

2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.
 

2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.
 

2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.
 

2016 SEAT Ateca. Image by SEAT.
 






 

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