The SEAT Ateca is surprisingly fun in bends, but the payoff is suspension that highlights bumps in the road
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.
The Ateca’s basic rear suspension means it isn’t as comfortable as a VW Tiguan.
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.