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SEAT Ateca Review

The SEAT Ateca is a fun, practical family SUV with plenty of in-car tech, though it could be more comfortable on bumpy roads.

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This score is awarded by our team of
expert reviewers
With nearly 60 years of experience between them, carwow’s expert reviewers thoroughly test every car on sale on carwow, and so are perfectly placed to present you the facts and help you make that exciting decision
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Big boot and lots of interior space
  • Lots of great engines
  • Fun to drive for an SUV

What's not so good

  • Could be more comfortable
  • Interior plastics could be better
  • Overall cabin design is dull

SEAT Ateca: what would you like to read next?

Is the SEAT Ateca a good car?

The SEAT Ateca is a stylish, practical and fun-to-drive family SUV that is a great all-round choice in the mid-size SUV class – alternatives include the Peugeot 3008 and Skoda Karoq.

But, like a pair of chic new shoes, you’ll have to suffer a bit of comfort to look great in an Ateca.

Its sharp styling was updated in 2020, with new lights and different styling at the front and back – it’s easy to spot because the newer model uses handwritten script on the Ateca badge, while the old one had block capitals. The update also changed the name of the top-spec Xcellence model to ‘Xperience’. These cars also get some cladding on the wheel arches to make it more off-roadey looking.

The interior was updated too, though it’s mostly remained the same: that is, a bit dull but very functional. The large infotainment screen is easy to use and looks sharp, at least, and whichever Ateca model you pick, you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. There’s no need to go for a high-spec model to get sat-nav, since your phone’s navigation is easy to use here.

The rest of the interior is good in the sense that it’s spacious: three people can sit in the back in reasonable comfort. The boot’s big too, and even without the adjustable set-up found in a Skoda Karoq or VW Tiguan there’s more than enough room for a family holiday.

The trade off for the Ateca’s fun driving experience is slightly firm suspension – aren’t practical family cars meant to be comfortable?

Mat Watson
carwow expert

Petrol and diesel options are available, and the best for those long holiday trips is the 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp. It’s punchy enough, but also efficient. If you prefer petrol, we’d choose the 1.5-litre petrol, also with 150hp – it’s smoother and quieter than the 2.0-litre diesel, if not quite as economical.

You can get the Ateca with four-wheel-drive, but there’s no real reason to in the UK’s temperate climate as it adds weight for little benefit. Manual or DSG automatic gearboxes are available, too, and we’d pick the former for the best value for money.

Euro NCAP awarded the Ateca five stars in its 2016 crash test, and the predictive adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and cross-traffic assist features mean it’s up to scratch with modern safety kit.

It’s also good to drive, with precise steering and decent body control. The trade-off is that it’s on the firm side for an SUV, especially on its larger wheel options in and around town, though it’s far from unbearable.

Recent updates haven’t changed much about the Ateca’s basic appeal: it’s a practical family car with a neat look and plenty of in-car tech. If it sounds like what you’re looking for, head to our deals page to find out one that’s right for you.

See below for our full review of the pre-facelift SEAT Ateca. Its space and practicality haven’t changed on this new model.

How practical is it?

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 sliding adjustment offered by some alternatives.

Boot (seats up)
485 - 510 litres
Boot (seats down)

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 they 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 only downside to fitting a child seat is you have to remove the covers to find the Isofix anchor points. These may get lost over time if you’re always taking them off to fit the seat. Other than that, it’s all pretty straightforward.

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 glove box, 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 pushchair 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 rear seats down the Ateca has a decent 1,604 litres of space, or 1,579 litres if you go for a 4×4 model.

What's it like to drive?

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.

Mat Watson
carwow expert

You can get the Ateca with four petrol and two diesel engines. We’d say 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 – 40mpg is possible 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 three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol too. It’s a fair bit cheaper than the 150hp, but it’s lethargic when the Ateca is fully loaded and it returns almost identical fuel economy figures to the 1.5-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. There are two 2.0-litre units to pick from, one with 115hp and one with 150hp.

Four-wheel drive is available on the higher-power 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines, though you can’t get it with a manual gearbox – it’s dual-clutch DSG only. This gearbox is also available (sans four-wheel drive) with the 1.5-litre petrol and the 150hp diesel.

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 Xperience Lux models get a 360-degree camera. You can also get 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 car – it scored full marks when it was tested under Euro NCAP’s 2016 testing regime. Clever kit such as active cruise control, that can brake and accelerate the car to match the speed of traffic in front, makes it even safer.

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.

What's it like inside?

The SEAT Ateca’s interior feels solidly put together and has easy-to-use controls, but it doesn’t feel as expensive as alternatives

Next Read full interior review
Buy a new or used SEAT Ateca at a price you’ll love
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