Road tests

SEAT Ateca FR review

Ateca FR brings a sporty edge to SEAT's stylish family SUV

The SEAT Ateca has been a big success for the Spanish carmaker. Despite having much in common with its Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan sister models, it has its own personality and somehow feels a little more fun than its VW Group brethren. No model in the Ateca range sums this up better than the FR, which brings the car's sporty side to the fore.

The Ateca is priced aggressively to compete against the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Hyundai Kona and Kia Stonic, and the FR sits at the top of the range, alongside the more comfort-oriented Ateca Xcellence. With its colour-coded body kit and five-spoke alloy wheels, the FR creates the impression that it'll be fun to drive, and it doesn't disappoint on the open road.

Our favourite engine for the Ateca FR is the 1.5-litre petrol 'EVO TSI'. It develops 148bhp, enough to get the SUV from 0-62mph in just 8.5 seconds. It's very responsive, too, although its higher-revving nature means it doesn't have the strong overtaking pull of the 2.0-litre diesel. It's remarkably economical, though – SEAT claims up to 53.3mpg, a figure that was the preserve of diesel engines until quite recently. This is thanks to clever cylinder-deactivation technology, which effectively reduces the size of the engine when full power isn't needed.

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Not only is the Ateca FR swift in a straight line; it's pretty handy in corners, too. It has slightly lower and stiffer suspension than the SE and Xcellence versions of the Ateca, which helps to overcome body lean when cornering hard. Wide low-profile tyres on 18-inch wheels mean there's loads of grip, too, and the steering is accurate, if a little light and lacking feel.

Unlike some 'sporty' SUVs, the Ateca FR doesn't punish its passengers while entertaining its driver. The ride quality is admittedly firm and you do notice bumps as the car passes over them, but shocks don't judder through the structure in an uncomfortable way. Things are at their smoothest on the motorway; the FR makes a very capable long-distance cruiser.

It's a well equipped one, too. As joint-flagship in the range, the FR brings LED headlights, that body-coloured styling kit, sporty wheels and suspension, plus sports seats upholstered in black Alcantara suede and an infotainment system with sat nav plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, along with DAB radio. There's a reversing camera, too, as well as dark-tinted rear glass.

Verdict 4 / 5

The SEAT Ateca FR makes a compelling alternative to the Ateca Xcellence if driver appeal is important. While the Xcellence places comfort first and has a more indulgent feel, the FR isn't far behind on ride quality and no less striking to look at. Combined with the responsive yet frugal 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine, the Ateca FR proves that family SUV practicality need not spell the end of driving fun.

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