SEAT may have been a little late to the party when it comes to having an SUV in the range, but the good news is that it’s been worth the wait.
The Ateca isn’t just a bit of rugged eye candy, it’s a very capable crossover – and it has to be because it’s up against the likes of its VW Group cousin, the Tiguan, plus the Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Tucson, Renault Kadjar and Ford Kuga. The list is endless and they’re all impressive in their own ways.
Priced from £18,150 for the entry-level S, powered by a surprisingly effective 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, to £30,595 for the flagship XCELLENCE 4Drive I tested, packing a 190PS 2.0 turbo diesel and all-wheel drive. A lot of money for a SEAT you might think, but it’s a lot of car.
You can see from the pictures that the Ateca is a looker (especially in Samoa Orange). Just like other SEATs, it’s sharp and stylish. You may also get a sense of the space inside and the quality feel.
The interior oozes SEAT DNA too. Driver focused up front, the dials and centre console are well laid out and clear, the seats are comfortable, and of course there’s that raised driving position. It’s also possible to match the interior lighting to your mood with ambient LEDs.
My test car was equipped with classy leather seats and plenty of extras including the £915 Navigation System Plus which features an 8-inch touchscreen (the cheapest Ateca has to make do with a 5-incher), plus the £1,210 XCELLENCE Pack which includes gizmos like a top-view camera and electric tailgate.
Its powerful diesel engine is paired with a slick 7-speed DSG auto gearbox which helps power this big car to 62mph in an effortless 7.5 seconds (though it seems brisker) and on to a top speed of 132mph.
Like most diesels, it’s a little gruff initially, especially under hard acceleration, but it soon settles down and is a refined cruiser with no shortage of grunt.
What makes this car so special is the way it delivers that power and handles. The ride may be a little firm over some surfaces for some, but the traction is fantastic and it feels planted, while body roll is minimal – remarkable for a car of this height.
With SEAT Drive Profile, you can also tailor the steering, throttle response and gearshifts (in automatic cars) with Normal, Comfort, Sport, Eco and Individual modes. And, of course, the all-wheel drive XCELLENCE gets Offroad and Snow modes too.
Clearly the Ateca is no Land Rover, but it does have some all-terrain ability, so if you live in an area where you need a little more peace of mind when the going gets tough, then maybe the 4Drive is for you.
Needless to say the Ateca can be loaded with as much tech and driver assistance aids as you like. My car even came with a Connectivity Box under the centre console, which includes a wireless phone charger, two USB ports and a mobile phone signal booster via the car’s on-board antenna. It’s fully compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, while MirrorLink enables you to control your phone from the main touchscreen.
You can also download the SEAT ConnectApp, which allows the Ateca to read out text messages, e-mails and social media updates, and you can dictate responses – all via MirrorLink.
Verdict: The SEAT Ateca XCELLENCE 4Drive is an impressive, classy package. Spacious, stylish, safe and versatile, you’d be hard part to find an SUV with such an entertaining drive for £30,000.