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In-depth reviews

SEAT Ateca review – good value SUV that's fun to drive

"The SEAT Ateca is a practical and good-looking SUV, and well worth considering as a Kuga or Qashqai rival"

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.9 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Very well priced
  • Looks fantastic
  • Good to drive

Cons

  • Slightly firm ride
  • Rivals have more stylish interiors
  • Not a completely flat loading area

Verdict - is the SEAT Ateca a good car?

The success of the SEAT 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 has enough of its own character to be 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 one, too. SEAT has also given it the sportiest handling of the trio, and it’s often available at knock-down prices thanks to attractive leasing and PCP finance deals.

SEAT Ateca models, specs and alternatives

The SEAT Ateca was the Spanish brand’s first SUV and it made a huge impact in the mid-sized SUV segment, which has exploded in popularity in recent years. On sale since 2016, the Ateca received a facelift towards the end of 2020 with a new nose to line it up more closely with the latest SEAT Leon and Tarraco. The revised model also features slimmer headlights and a hexagonal grille, while its tail was updated with different LED lights and 'Ateca' lettering. Some rivals such as the Peugeot 3008 and Hyundai Tucson are arguably even more striking, though.

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, a 1.5-litre TSI with DSG at nearly £32,000 costs a shade less than a Skoda Karoq with the same engine and gearbox, but both are significantly cheaper than the equivalent Volkswagen Tiguan.

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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 aforementioned 113bhp 1.0-litre TSI. It’s very efficient, but if you want more power there’s a larger 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI although the even more powerful 187bhp 2.0-litre TSI has been dropped.
 

SEAT used to offer three diesel versions of the Ateca that are still worth considering if you can find low-mileage examples on dealer forecourts. Most recently, buyers had the choice of either 113bhp or 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI versions, while a few years back a 187bhp model was also offered. Optioned with two-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, diesel Atecas promise to return up to 58mpg, but even the cheaper petrol versions will return over 45mpg, at least officially.

The most powerful of the diesel trio was the only model available with SEAT’s 4Drive all-wheel-drive set-up, offering a little more traction in poor conditions or in light off-roading. It was available right the way through the range from SE to Xperience Lux trim, so if you need the car’s extra abilities you won’t be forced into a higher trim level than you need. It’s no ball of fire in performance terms, but still entertaining to drive – and if you really do need more performance, there’s always the 296bhp Cupra Ateca from SEAT’s performance-focused spin-off brand.

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 competitively-sized 510-litre boot. That’s more space than you get in a Nissan Qashqai, but it can’t quite match the Skoda Karoq or Volkswagen Tiguan. Pick a model with four-wheel drive and the boot shrinks 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.

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Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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