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First drive: SEAT Ateca 2021MY. Image by SEAT UK.

First drive: SEAT Ateca 2021MY
SEAT mildly facelifts the Ateca and tidies up the range hierarchy and it remains a C-segment crossover class act.

 



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SEAT Ateca 1.5 TSI Evo Xperience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

SEAT treats one of the best C-segment crossovers, the Ateca, to its midlife facelift. It's not a revolutionary series of updates but the Spanish company has done enough for the 2021 model year to keep the Ateca jostling for position right at the forefront of this highly lucrative market segment.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: SEAT Ateca 150 TSI DSG Xperience
Pricing: Ateca range from 23,670, 150 TSI DSG Xperience as tested from 27,750
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol with cylinder deactivation technology
Transmission: front-wheel drive, seven-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic
Body style: five-door crossover-SUV
CO2 emissions: 154g/km (VED Band 151-170: 540 first 12 months, then 150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 39.8-41.5mpg
Top speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 8.6 seconds
Power: 150hp at 5,000-6,000rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 1,500-3,500rpm
Boot space: 510-1,604 litres

What's this?

Facelift time for the SEAT Ateca and it's clear to see that inspiration has been taken from more recent products out of Martorell, such as the Tarraco SUV and the Leon Mk4 hatchback. So while there's not a lot to spot around the back of the 2021MY Ateca - where LED lamp clusters, the italic script that SEAT now favours for its model-designation badging and a lower valance which hides the exhaust pipes on all models (apparently, this was a move made at the behest of existing Ateca customers, presumably having some sort of eco-related crisis of confidence about showing their car's internal combustion leanings) are the main changes - it is to the front of the crossover we must go. Because this is a facelift which is an actual facelift; it might look familiar, but the new Ateca has the lamp clusters from the Tarraco with the sleeker daytime running light signatures, it now has a hexagonal grille instead of a trapezoid affair, and the bumper has been redesigned to accommodate these overall alterations. It looks good and new up front, which is a successful job on the part of the company's stylists.

At the same time, SEAT has decided to simplify the range structure somewhat, replacing the FR Black with an FR Sport model, while the former XCellence specification has been renamed Xperience. This harks back to the short-lived Leon Mk3 lifestyle estate, because the key difference with the Xperience to all other Atecas is that it has more fillets of silver trim at the lower fringes of its body cladding, front, sides and back. This, again, was reputedly a request from those very same customers who wanted the exhausts blanking off, who said they liked having a road-biased crossover but they wanted it to look more... off-road-y. So that's what you've got here, but before you scoff about the potential likelihood of any 2021MY Atecas venturing away from the tarmac, know that 4Drive AWD is available on certain models of the SEAT that are sub-Cupra.

Speaking of which, engines. The Cupra Ateca continues with its EA888 2.0-litre turbo'd four, developing 300hp and driving that power through all four wheels and a seven-speed DSG 'box. On the diesel front, the 150hp variants of the 2.0-litre TDI are retained, with a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG auto on the front-wheel-drive models. There's a DSG 4Drive variant of this TDI, as there is of the top petrol, a 2.0-litre TSI with 190hp and DSG-plus-4Drive only. Below this, the sweet 1.0-litre three-cylinder TSI is uprated to 115hp and forms entry level, paired exclusively to the six-speed manual, while this 150hp 1.5-litre TSI Evo with cylinder deactivation tech can be either manual or DSG, but front-wheel drive only. A few of these engines, the TSI Evo included, are now RDE2-compliant for emissions regs, and across the board prices are broadly held the same, with any monetary increases compensated by more generous kit levels.

Inside, the Ateca's roomy and practical cabin is tidied up with the addition of a 10.25-inch SEAT Digital Cockpit on the FR Sport and Xperience Lux cars, while all models at SE Technology level and upwards enjoy a 9.2-inch improved human-machine interface for the infotainment; SE Atecas make do with an 8.25-inch display here. A fresh design of wheel and resculpted door cards with stitching on the panels are drafted in, there's a matte finish for the surrounds of all of the air vents, the gearlever and the infotainment system, and additional kit includes a heated windscreen, multicolour ambient lighting, and SEAT Full Link which supports wireless Apple CarPlay and cabled Android Auto connectivity. It's worth pointing out that our test car, a non-Lux Xperience, still had the analogue dials with a central digital screen in the cluster, which are fine enough and obviously perfectly legible, but nevertheless starting to look a bit dated in the current heavily-touchscreen age of cabins in which we live. Anyway, a final note before the driving is that all UK SEATs are part of the 'easymove' range structure, which means there are no cost options: so, fitting into that, prices for the 1.5 TSI Ateca begin at 25,595 for an SE and rise to 30,620 for an Xperience Lux.

How does it drive?

SEAT seems to manage to coerce a more involving drive from the same mechanical oily bits that are available to the other marques in the Volkswagen Group, namely VW itself, as well as Audi and Skoda. It was the case with the Ateca when it launched in 2016 and it remains the case now, with this facelifted example.

There's just something a bit more vivacious and enjoyable about hustling the Ateca 150 TSI along than there is doing the same thing in the, for instance, (perfectly excellent) Skoda Karoq. The steering is nice and clean, and precise too, with lovely judgement of the weighting. Ditto the suspension set-up and the brakes, which allow for a decent amount of 'hooning' in the SEAT without compromising the way the Ateca operates as a cultured daily contrivance. On the wonderfully brilliant eastern bit of the A507, the Ateca proved not only enjoyable, but good enough that we didn't really yearn to be in anything else for the driving experience. Grip, traction, resistance to understeer, control of the tall body; it's all incredibly capable.

That's high praise indeed for a high-riding machine like this and it should be made clear that we're not trying to claim it is sports-car-esque in its mannerisms. It isn't, but the Ateca feels youthful and engaging as crossover-SUVs go, rather than stolid and strait-laced. It's why we've always liked the SEAT C-segment challenger, and why we continue to like it a lot now. Yet, as we've said, you don't pay for this chassis dynamism with a crunchy ride or excessive tyre roar in the cabin; actually, if anything, the Ateca is even more impressive when it is just cruising quietly along, where its damping is superb and the mechanical refinement is as high as you would expect of something from the Volkswagen Group. We'd also say, having sampled the cheeky little 1.0 TSI on the same day, that while we admire the execution of the three-cylinder engine in a car the size of an Ateca, the 150hp TSI Evo is about as 'small' as you want to get in a vehicle of this class and build, because the 1.5-litre's performance is more useable in highway traffic flow without needing to rinse the SEAT through its lower gears simply to keep up.

Verdict

No drastic surgery for the SEAT Ateca during the 2021MY updates does not equate to a car which is drifting away from the C-segment crossover-SUV elite. No, quite the opposite: this has always been one of the best things in its class since it launched four years ago and it remains the same quality product now, only with some worthwhile updates to ensure it can keep challenging right at the top of its field.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 22 Oct 2020









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2020 SEAT Ateca 150 TSI XPerience. Image by SEAT UK.2020 SEAT Ateca 150 TSI XPerience. Image by SEAT UK.2020 SEAT Ateca 150 TSI XPerience. Image by SEAT UK.2020 SEAT Ateca 150 TSI XPerience. Image by SEAT UK.2020 SEAT Ateca 150 TSI XPerience. Image by SEAT UK.

2020 SEAT Ateca 150 TSI XPerience. Image by SEAT UK.2020 SEAT Ateca 150 TSI XPerience. Image by SEAT UK.2020 SEAT Ateca 150 TSI XPerience. Image by SEAT UK.2020 SEAT Ateca 150 TSI XPerience. Image by SEAT UK.2020 SEAT Ateca 150 TSI XPerience. Image by SEAT UK.








 

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