SEAT Ateca


   The last time I drove a SEAT Ateca was in Manchester, as part of its UK launch, and like many motoring writer that day I returned full of praise for what is the Spanish manufacturer’s first foray into the ever-growing, and indeed ever-popular, family SUV market place.

   It was Autocar Magazine however that really put the Ateca on the map by bestowing upon it their “Game changer Award”; one of a select number of honours they present to cars that have “set new standards or defied convention by turning the established order on its head.

   “The whole mainstream industry is now making a family SUV, but no-one is making a better one than SEAT with its Ateca”. Said Autocar’s editor. Praise indeed! And they weren’t the only ones to hand out the trophies: The Ateca took ten awards in its first ten months.

    A little more time with the Ateca then was what clearly was needed.

   That first Northerly introduction to the Ateca was of the diesel-powered kind, whereas this time around SEAT’s sent one fitted with the 1.4 EcoTSi 4 cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine coupled to their (and VW parent group’s) excellent 7 speed DSG gearbox. Other goodies as a result of it being in range-topping Xcellence spec included (optional) 19 inch “Exclusive” machined alloy wheels, sports seats, keyless entry and start, LED headlamps, black leather upholstery and equally dark headlining, reversing camera, sat-nav and DAB,  and Driving Assist Pack 2  - which adds auto dipping, rain sensitive wipers, Lane Assist, and Traffic Sign Recognition. Resplendent in Nevada white metallic paint the Ateca looks very much the stylish, urban (SEAT’s words), SUV.

    You can’t buy an automatic or a petrol engined Ateca with four-wheel drive, so if you’re thinking of straying a long way from the tarmac perhaps this version – even if you fit grippier winter tyres-  isn’t really for you. Nevertheless read on, you might be pleasantly surprised. Not only is the 1.4 two-wheel-drive-only Ateca frugal, it’s also fairly swift. It’s also quieter and more refined than its oil-burning brethren and in certain circumstances still capable of returning the best part of its promised 51.4 (combined) MPG.

    If that is you drive it carefully and not fully loaded. A genuine five-seater it may be, and a comfy one at that, but add a couple a passengers plus their luggage and point the 1.4 Ateca uphill and you’ll soon see closer to 30mpg.

   It does redeem itself once out in the open though. The EcoTSi engine uses cylinder deactivation so, when you’re cruising on under light loads, or perhaps when the going goes slightly downhill instead of up, the engine’s software enables it to run using just 2 of its pistons - so as to save fuel. From the driver’s seat you don’t feel a thing (we’re it not for the dashboard display I wouldn’t have known) and as soon as they’re required the second pair of pistons spring back into action. It works a treat. Honestly you won’t feel a thing. The Ateca makes for relaxing motorway cruiser.

    It also makes for an entertaining cross country ally too. If you can live with an occasional slightly dim-witted gearbox that is, but at least there are paddle-shifters if or when you think you know better.

    The Ateca’s handling is probably the best in class; it’s grippy and doesn’t resort to too much body roll. However, I’d avoid those aforementioned 19” alloy wheels if I were you. Their resultant effect on the ride is to make things all too taut on all but the smoothest of surfaces. Those fashionable rims make their noisy presence felt a bit too much for my liking too.

    Niggles aside, it’s still easy to see why the Ateca is worthy all the applause it’s been getting. It’s spacious, comfy (on the right wheels), nicely equipped (even in lesser specs), it looks good, and it drives nicely.

   If you’re in the market for a family orientated SUV and you’ve been looking at the likes of the Qashqai, the Kadjar, and the 3008, before you sign anything make sure you spend a little extra time with the Ateca.



SEAT Ateca 1.4 XCELLENCE EcoTSi 150 PS 7 speed DSG-auto

Engine: 1,395 cc 4Cyl 16V turbo

Transmission: 7 speed DSG Automatic, front-wheel drive

Power:  148 bhp @ 5,000 rpm

Torque: 184 lbft @ 1,500 rpm

0-62MPH: 8.5 Sec

Max Speed: 125 mph

CO2: 125 g/km

MPG: 51.4 combined

Price: from £26,680 (as driven £29,195)



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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