£17,990 - £29,990 Price range
52 - 65 MPG
Its sharp looks are designed to entice young families and it features a range of smartphone connectivity technology that sets its infotainment system apart from its rivals – it feels more iPhone than Atari ST. The Ateca is also available with wireless phone charging and smartphone mirroring.
The interior’s a little drab, but SEAT has given most Ateca models a large eight-inch touchscreen with snazzier graphics than you’ll find in its sister car, the Volkswagen Tiguan. There’s plenty of room for four six-foot tall passengers, and the 510-litre boot is on par for the class – although you get a slightly smaller 485-litre space if you get a 4×4 Ateca.
Get behind the wheel after hopping out of a Qashqai and you immediately notice the SEAT has a firmer, sportier ride. Although this means the car doesn’t lean over in bends – darting into corners more like a regular hatchback – it does jolt over bumps more than the Nissan. It’s not an uncomfortable ride by any stretch of the imagination, and other than some wind noise at fast motorway speeds it’s relatively refined.
The Ateca shares its major components with the Volkswagen Tiguan, so it comes with the usual range of Volkswagen Group engines, ranging from a 113hp 1.0-litre petrol to a 187hp 2.0-litre diesel – although the best bet for most buyers is likely to be the 140hp 1.4-litre petrol thanks to its smooth feel, decent performance and respectable fuel economy. Four-wheel-drive is only available on diesel models.
Check out our SEAT Ateca size and dimensions guide to see if this Spanish SUV will fit into your life or check out the paint options on offer by reading our SEAT Ateca paint colours guide. If you’re looking for a slightly smaller SUV, check out the new
SEAT has been spotted testing a high-performance Cupra model that we expect to hit the roads in 2017. Read our SEAT Ateca Cupra price, specs and release date story for full details or, if you’re looking for a slightly smaller SUV, check out the new SEAT Arona before it goes on sale in 2017.
The Ateca’s interior will be familiar to anyone who has sat in a Leon hatchback. You get a largely grey dashboard with some stylishly ‘carved’ soft-touch plastics, a touchscreen infotainment screen and logically laid out air-con controls that appear in a host of other Volkswagen Group products including the Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf.
All-round visibility is good for a car in this class – and after driving it through Barcelona’s scooter-ridden rush hour traffic twice we really appreciated its high driving position, which gives a great view of the road ahead. Unusually for a modern car, the A-pillars are relatively thin – making it easier to see cyclists.
SEAT has fitted the Ateca with an eight-inch colour touchscreen display which has colourful graphics to liven up the cabin a little. It’s easy to use and responds well to swipe and pinch gestures for navigating through menus and around maps. This screen is standard on SE and Xcellence models, although just the latter gets sat-nav. Entry-level S models get a smaller five-inch monochrome screen which doesn’t feel right in such a cool-looking car.
You get cloth seats as standard, and top-spec Xcellence models come with reddish-brown suede-effect seats or black leather. They feel plenty comfortable for long journeys, and even keep you in place reasonably well if the driver starts throwing the Ateca into corners like a hot hatch…
SEAT Ateca passenger space
Thanks to its relatively boxy shape there’s an abundance of headroom in the back and front of the Ateca and rear-seat legroom won’t be a problem even if a 6’3” passenger sits behind an equally lanky driver, and the only raw deal comes in the form of a narrow middle rear seat with a lump in the floor where you’ll want to put your feet.
SEAT Ateca boot space
The Ateca’s boot space is 510 litres in two-wheel-drive models and 485 litres in cars fitted with the 4DRIVE 4×4 system. That puts it in the same ballpark as the Kia Sportage (503 litres), and it’s significantly roomier than the Qashqai’s paltry 430-litre space. Stick the Ateca’s rear seats down and you’re left with 1,604 litres of space (1,579 in 4×4 models) – that compares favourably with the 1,492-litre space in the Sportage and the 1,585-litre Qashqai boot. It’s worth noting that the Tiguan’s boot is actually 100 litres bigger than the SEAT’s.
The Ateca is a sportier car to drive than any of its rivals, thanks to direct steering and relatively stiff suspension that keeps the car pretty flat even during fast corners. OK, the steering doesn’t give you much feel of what the front tyres are doing, but it’ll skirt a roundabout pretty quickly. It didn’t necessarily put a smile on our faces as we took it into the hilly roads behind Barcelona, but it gives you confidence to press on – more so than its roly-poly competitors.
Because the suspension setup errs on the side of sportiness you do feel big bumps far more than in a cushier Qashqai. In real-world driving this means you’ll find yourself slowing down more for speed bumps in the SEAT, although on the smooth Spanish roads of our test route we didn’t find it uncomfortable. Time will tell how the Ateca fares on pitted UK tarmac – there’s a chance it’ll be a little too firm for some families.
SEAT Ateca four-wheel drive
Few people will ever take the Ateca off-road, but we drove four-wheel drive versions on a man-made off-road course – just in case they do. It climbs up steep inclines easily, and can drive onto and off slopes without grinding its bumpers on the ground. There are two drive select settings just for this sort of behaviour: snow and off-road. These adjust the traction control and (in DSG models), the gear shifts to suit the terrain.
This is where the Ateca really outdoes its Asian rivals. It gets access to the best of the Volkswagen Group’s petrol and diesel engine range, ranging from tiny petrol units to a relatively potent 187hp 2.0-litre diesel.
SEAT Ateca petrol engines
The most popular petrol engine for the Ateca is expected to be the 1.4-litre, 148hp four-cylinder petrol. It gets a claimed 52.3mpg and carries the SUV from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds. On the move it feels brisk and powerful enough even with four adults on board.
At the bottom end of the Ateca’s engine range is a tiny 1.0-litre 113hp turbocharged petrol engine. It gets a claimed 54.3mpg, but it takes 11 seconds to get the Ateca from 0-62mph and you’ll have to work it hard if you have three people and luggage on board – therefore undoing the efficiencies of having a small engine in the first place.
SEAT Ateca diesel engines
There are three diesel engines for the Ateca – a 1.6-litre and two 2.0-litre versions. The 1.6 has 113hp, gets from 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds but returns 65.7mpg.
We’d recommend you go for one of the 2.0-litre engines, however, which are quieter and feel smoother around town. The most popular will be the 148hp version which takes 8.5 seconds to get to 62mph (nine seconds if you choose the 4×4 option) and gets 64.2mpg. Go for the DSG automatic gearbox and you can expect to get 62.8mpg.
The most powerful Ateca engine is a punchy 187hp 2.0-litre diesel which dashes to 62mph in 7.5 seconds and gets 56.5mpg – it’s only available with SEAT’s 4DRIVE four-wheel-drive system though.
The SEAT Ateca hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP yet, but we’d expect it to get the full five-stars – thanks in part to the amount of safety tech it comes with. All Atecas come with a full range of airbags (including curtain airbags), Isofix child-seat mounting points in the outer rear seats, automatic emergency braking and a tiredness recognition system.
The optional safety kit list includes traffic jam assist, which at speeds of up to 37mph controls braking and acceleration in traffic jams, lane assist and emergency assist, which will stop the car safely in its lane with the hazard warning lights on if the driver appears inactive. The Ateca can also come with rear cross traffic alert, which warns you about cars crossing behind you as you reverse out of a parking bay and you can have blind spot detection, radar-assisted cruise control and traffic sign recognition, too.
Unfortunately most of this kit isn’t standard, and comes in packs ranging from £300 for lane assist and high beam assist to £805 for the fancier options such as traffic jam assist and rear cross traffic alert.
As standard all models get alloy wheels, air-con, a five-inch monochrome touchscreen for the infotainment, and a leather steering wheel.
Mid-range SE models and above get Bluetooth, a bigger eight-inch colour touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, LED taillights, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as MirrorLink – making it the trim to pick if you want to integrate your smartphone with your Ateca.
The range-topping Xcellence model gets SEAT’s Connectivity Hub, which adds wireless phone charging, multi-colour interior lighting, adjustable driving modes (which change the steering weight and throttle response, as well as gearshift speeds on automatic DSG models). You also get off-road modes, keyless entry and ignition, sat-nav, leather seats and a rear-view camera. Plus full-LED headlights which not only light up the road better, but make the Ateca look like a properly premium car.
SEAT Ateca winter pack
The winter pack for the Ateca includes heated front seats, spray nozzles to wash the headlights and a warning that tells you when your washer fluid is running low. It costs £320 on SE models, and comes as standard on top-of-the-range Xcellence cars.
SEAT Ateca Xcellence pack
Only available on Xcellence models, this adds a superb 360-degree camera which makes parking a doddle, self-parking and an electric-opening boot which you can operate by flailing your foot under the rear bumper. It’s a £1,210 option, but worth it if you frequently park in tight spots.
SEAT Ateca X-Perience
SEAT has announced it will launch an off-road oriented Ateca called the X-Perience model. An olive green paint job – with a scratch-resistant finish – chunky body mouldings, roof rails and orange accents mark this four-wheel drive Ateca apart from more sedate models in the Spanish brand’s range. Official prices haven’t been announced but a well-equipped 2.0-litre diesel model with 190hp is expected to coast approximately £22,000 when it goes on sale in early 2017.
The SEAT Ateca continues the Spanish brand’s model of taking premium Volkswagen products, giving them some sharper styling and offering them at a more reasonable price. And the brand’s first SUV is an unmitigated success – it’s spacious, good to drive, incredibly well built, sharp-looking and available with safety and infotainment tech that matches the more expensive Volkswagen Tiguan.
Our only concern is that the ride may be a little too firm for some drivers on UK roads – if you prioritise comfort above a plush-feeling cabin then the Nissan Qashqai may be a better bet for you. But for everyone else, there’s a new challenger to the family SUV crown.