SEAT Ateca SUV review
"The SEAT Ateca is an affordable, practical and desirable SUV that makes a great alternative to a Kadjar or Qashqai"
- Very well priced
- Looks fantastic
- Good to drive
- Slightly firm ride
- Rivals have more stylish interiors
- Not a completely flat loading area
The SEAT Ateca was the Spanish brand’s first SUV and it’s made a huge impact in the medium sized SUV segment, which has exploded in popularity in recent years. The success of the Ateca is in part down to how much it shares with the Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Karoq (SEAT is part of the VW Group) but it's an accomplished rival to the Nissan Qashqai in its own right. The Ateca sits between the Tiguan and the Karoq on pricing, and depending on what angle you look at it from, is the more stylish looking too.
A facelift towards the end of 2020 saw the Ateca's nose redesigned to line up more closely with the latest SEAT Leon and Tarraco. It now has slimmer headlights and a hexagonal grille, while its tail features different LED lights and 'Ateca' lettering.
The cheapest Ateca is the 113bhp 1.0-litre petrol in basic SE trim. This costs less than many of the model’s rivals, but the even better news is that this competitiveness extends throughout the model range. For example, at the other extreme, the Ateca 2.0-litre TDI 4Drive Xperience costs a shade more than a similarly specced Skoda Karoq 2.0-litre TDI SCR 4x4 DSG SE L, but both are significantly cheaper than the equivalent Tiguan 2.0-litre TDI 4MOTION R-Line.
As a member of VW Group, SEAT has been able to choose from some familiar but excellent engines to power the Ateca. Petrols kick off with the 113bhp 1.0-litre TSI Ecomotive. It’s very efficient, but if you want more power there’s a larger 148bhp 1.5-litre ‘TSI Evo’ and an even more powerful 187bhp 2.0-litre TSI.
The latter is only available with an automatic DSG gearbox and SEAT’s 4Drive four-wheel-drive system. For strong pulling power and good economy the diesels are worth considering. There are two: the 113bhp and 148bhp 2.0-litre TDIs, while a 187bhp version is no longer offered. The economy star of the line-up is the 113bhp TDI, which can return a claimed 52.3mpg, but most versions of the Ateca will return over 40-45mpg, at least officially.
One notable exception is the 187bhp 2.0-litre TSI DSG 4Drive, which will appeal to sporty drivers far more than the economy-minded, struggling to hit 35mpg. This flagship engine can be chosen only in luxurious Xcellence or racy FR trims, the latter of which makes the most of the Ateca's well-sorted chassis. This is one SUV that’s actually fun to drive thanks to its grippy handling and firm suspension, which keeps it from leaning too much in corners. If you want even more power, you'll need to check out the 296bhp Cupra Ateca version.
Every Ateca offers the versatility you'd expect of an SUV and arguably goes further than most rivals in having more than enough space for four adults and, behind them, a large, 510-litre boot. That’s bigger than you’ll find in a Renault Kadjar and a Nissan Qashqai. However, the addition of four-wheel drive reduces boot space to 485 litres.
Fans of the latest technology should be happy with the Ateca’s connectivity, which includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, allowing you to access many of your apps on the central infotainment screen and via the steering-wheel-mounted controls. The Ateca is also loaded with safety kit and scored the full five stars in Euro NCAP crash-testing, with a mightily impressive 93% for adult occupant protection.