SEAT Ateca Review
The SEAT Ateca is a practical family SUV that’s quite fun to drive, although it can be a touch uncomfy on bumpy roads and the interior isn’t as posh as the VW Tiguan’s
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Efficient engines
- Fun to drive for an SUV
What's not so good
- Suspension a touch firm
- Some cheap plastics
- Dreary cabin
SEAT Ateca: what would you like to read next?
The SEAT Ateca is a great choice if you’re after a practical family SUV with stylish looks, a high driving position and a reasonable price tag.
The Ateca’s angular headlights give it a sporty look that matches the way it drives – not many SUVs are as fun to drive quickly on a twisty road, although it’s not as comfy over bumpy roads as the less-fun, more-expensive Volkswagen Tiguan.
Just like the Tiguan’s interior, the SEAT’s cabin is a bit bland. There’s no doubting it’s well-built and will stand up to family life, but the only real dash of colour is the 8.0-inch colour infotainment touchscreen that’s standard on SE Technology models and above. Whichever Ateca model you pick, you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, so you can use your phone’s media and navigation apps on the car’s screen, and avoid forking out for SEAT’s own pricey satellite navigation system.
Less high-tech but equally handy are the Ateca’s roomy back seats, which can fit three people abreast in reasonable comfort. The boot’s big too, with more than enough space for a family’s worth of holiday clobber, but it’s a shame it lacks the adjustable boot floor that makes a Tiguan’s load space so flexible.
The trade off for the Ateca’s fun driving experience is slightly firm suspension – aren’t SUVs meant to be comfortable?
You can get the Ateca with a decent range of diesel engines – the best bet if you do lots of long trips is the 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp. It’s quick but also economical, although it does get quite expensive when paired with SEAT’s fast-shifting DSG automatic gearbox. The Ateca’s best petrol engine is the 1.5-litre, 150hp. It offers good performance, stays smooth and quiet most of time and doesn’t use copious amounts of fuel.
You can also get the Ateca with four-wheel-drive, but it’s not worthwhile unless you live somewhere that gets seriously bad winter weather. Four-wheel-drive Atecas cost more and use more fuel than the two-wheel-drive versions, which undoes the Ateca’s good-value proposition – in which case you may as well get a VW Tiguan.
Like the Tiguan, the Ateca’s dead easy to live with. There are no major blind spots, the standard-fit manual gearbox is easy to use, and the light steering means you can quickly nip into spaces in traffic. And you can do so safely – Euro NCAP awarded the Ateca five stars in its 2016 crash test, and you can pay extra for adaptive cruise control to keep a set distance from the car in front.
That safety is the cherry on top of the Ateca’s cake. It’s a great all-round family car that’s more fun to drive than comparable SUVs and it’s reasonably priced too – look past the drab interior and slightly bumpy suspension and it’s well worth a place on your family car shortlist.
The SEAT Ateca’s interior feels solidly put together and has easy-to-use controls, but it doesn’t feel as expensive as alternatives
The SEAT Ateca has room for a family of four and their luggage, but it’s a shame the back seats don’t get the adjustment offered by some alternatives
There are signs of cost cutting inside the Ateca, such as rear seats that only split 60:40 and don’t slide like the ones in the VW Tiguan
You’ll find it easy to get comfy behind the wheel of the Ateca because even basic models come with a height adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that moves for rake and reach. You also get a front centre armrest to rest your elbow on, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob.
A height adjustable front passenger seat is also standard, as is lumbar adjustment for both front seats to avoid backache on long drives, plus your backseat passengers get an armrest and a heater vent.
Passenger space in the back is good. There’s plenty of knee and headroom for tall adults to get comfortable, even if the back seats don’t recline or slide forwards and backwards as the do in similar models. You’ll even get three in the back without too many complaints – the Ateca’s width means shoulder room isn’t too tight and the large footwells have space for three people’s feet.
The Ateca has a decent amount of storage spaces for all your odds and ends. It has big door bins, a lidded cubby under the front centre armrest and a couple of cupholders.
The only annoyance is the glovebox, which is big but also a strange shape that limits what you can get in it. All models come with above to get cupholders in the back, which are integrated into the rear centre armrest. Also included on every Ateca is a sunglasses holder in the roof and a storage box under the driver’s seat which is ideal for hiding valuables.
The Ateca’s 510-litre capacity boot isn’t as big as the 595-litre one in the Peugeot 3008, but it’s far bigger than the Nissan Qashqai’s 430-litre space. It can swallow a baby stroller or a set of golf clubs with ease, in fact, you can fit two large and two small suitcases without even needing to remove the parcel shelf.
Boot features are limited though – you don’t get a 12v power socket, for example, and an adjustable boot floor to make the boot floor line up with the load lip is an option. It’s worth paying for though, because it makes it so much easier to slide bikes and other big objects into the boot once you’ve flipped the rear seats down using the lever at the side of the boot.
That lever is standard on all Atecas. With all the seat down the Ateca has a decent 1,604 litres of space, or 1,579 litres if you go for a 4×4 model.
The SEAT Ateca is surprisingly fun in bends, but the payoff is suspension that highlights bumps in the road
The Ateca’s basic rear suspension means it isn’t as comfortable as a VW Tiguan.
You can get the Ateca with three petrol and three diesel engines. Without a doubt, the best all-rounder is the clever 150hp 1.5-litre petrol. Choose it and you won’t have to put up with the diesel engines’ clatter, but it’s still cheap to run – officially it’ll get fuel economy of 53mpg, but 45mpg is easily attainable in the real world.
You get that impressive fuel economy because the engine can turn off two cylinders when the extra power they produce isn’t needed. Pressing your foot on the accelerator sees all four cylinders fire into action, propelling the Ateca from 0-62mph in a respectable 8.5 seconds.
There’s a smaller 115hp 1.0-litre petrol too, but it’s not really fast enough when the Ateca is fully loaded and it returns almost identical fuel economy figures to the 1.4-litre model. The 190hp 2.0-litre petrol has the opposite problem – it’s quick but also has the highest running costs of the range.
Diesel power is worth considering if you have a high enough annual mileage to recoup the higher purchase price. You can choose from a 115hp 1.6-litre, 150hp 2.0-litre and a 190hp 2.0-litre.
The 1.6-litre version has enough low-down shove to move the Ateca when it’s fully loaded and best-in-range fuel economy of 64.2mpg. If you want to tow with your Ateca then you’ll want the four-wheel drive, 190hp diesel that can pull a 2,100kg trailer – 600kgs more than the weedy 1.0-litre petrol.
You’ll have no problem driving the Ateca around town if you’re used to driving a regular hatchback like the VW Golf. In fact, the Ateca’s raised driving position gives you a distinct advantage as you try to manoeuvre through packed city streets and you have no major blind spots to worry about.
You’ll even find reverse parking relatively straightforward thanks to the standard-fit rear parking sensors, while Xcellence models get a rear-view camera. All models can be specified with a self-parking system, which steers for you to get into parallel spaces and perpendicular bays.
Get free of the city and you’ll discover the Ateca’s trump card – it’s actually pretty decent to drive thanks to the relatively stiff suspension, so there’s little body lean in corners and it feels agile.
When you encounter a bumpy road you’ll notice the payoff for the Ateca’s fun driving characteristics – that firm suspension means it bounces down roads a little more than you’d notice in a more comfy Volkswagen Tiguan. It’s a fine cruiser on smooth motorways, however, thanks to a quiet cabin with little wind or road noise.
The Ateca’s a safe care for you and your family – it scored full marks when it was tested under Euro NCAP’s tough 2016 testing regime. You can make it even safer by specifying options such as active cruise control that can brake and accelerate the car to match the speed of traffic in front.
You can take things further by adding the Driver Assistance Pack 1, which adds auto-dipping headlights and lane keep assist, which will gently steer the car in lane.
Adding four-wheel drive will give the Ateca more grip on slippery surfaces, but in normal driving you’ll barely notice a difference and it means the Ateca costs more to buy and run. Consider it if you live in areas that regularly get snow in winter, but otherwise give it a miss and pocket the fuel savings.