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SEAT Ateca review

The Cupra Ateca SUV is a brilliant family car that’s fast and great to drive, but you’ll have to accept its gloomy interior and boy racer exterior complete with tuner-esque branding.

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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

  • Surprisingly nimble
  • Fizzing performance
  • Still practical

What's not so good

  • Boy racer looks
  • Dark, gloomy interior
  • A VW Golf R costs less

SEAT Ateca: what would you like to read next?

Is the SEAT Ateca a good car?

The Cupra Ateca is a practical SUV with the 300hp engine and four-wheel-system from the fiendishly quick SEAT Leon Cupra 300.

As a result of this SEAT connection, you’re probably wondering ‘what’s happened to the SEAT badge?’ Well, it’s gone – Cupra is SEAT’s new performance sub-brand and the Cupra Ateca the first in a line of cars that will wear that badge.

To help your mind separate Ateca from Cupra Ateca, the latter has been given the new badge plus the full treatment from the accessories catalogue. As a result, you get huge 19-inch alloy wheels, a body kit, a quad exhaust system and LED headlights. The result is a car with purposeful styling, although the unfamiliar badge makes it look like the creation of a tuning house rather than a mainstream car. Some will like that, others won’t.

The changes inside are more subtle, but you get body-hugging sports seats (complete with questionable looking carbon fibre vinyl bolsters) some Cupra badges and more fake-looking carbon fibre trim on the dashboard. Sadly, it’s not enough to redress the gloomy, almost exclusively jet-black cabin plastics that make the interior feel a little too dowdy for a genuinely sporty car like this.

If you already think the Cupra Ateca’s body kit is a little bit OTT, then we probably shouldn’t mention that the badge is supposed to emulate a tribal tattoo. Hmm.

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

Along with the bad bits, though, you also get the good bits of the standard Ateca, like its excellent 8.0-inch infotainment system. It’s even better in the Cupra Ateca because it comes complete with another digital screen behind the steering wheel that transforms into a huge map, making following the sat-nav’s directions child’s play.

The Cupra Ateca is well equipped and the options list is limited to just two equipment packs. The Comfort and Sound Pack includes an electric tailgate, an upgraded Beats audio system and heated front seats.

The Design pack is for those who think the Cupra Ateca is a tad on the subtle side – you get 18-inch Brembo brakes and 19-inch copper wheels. These can up the cost price considerably. But remember you mitigate against this by taking advantage of the Cupra Ateca deals available on carwow.

Getting four adults sat comfortably should be equally simple. There’s loads of space up front and the Cupra Ateca’s upright body means it’s nearly as spacious on the airy back seats. Even the boot is very practical being tall, square and full of handy features such as shopping hooks and tethering points.

It’s all so sensible that it’s easy to forget that the Cupra Ateca is a car capable of rocketing from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds – more than a second quicker than a traditional hot hatch such as the VW Golf GTI. And you can do that consistently because the car’s four-wheel-drive system and standard seven-speed automatic gearbox gets you a perfect getaway time and time again. It’ll even return fuel economy of close to 40mpg.

Meanwhile, suspension that’s lowered by 11mm – and hooked up to adjustable dampers – cuts out body lean making the Cupra feel safe and predictable even when you’re ‘on it’. Admittedly, the extra body roll means it doesn’t leap into corners with the eagerness of a truly sorted hot hatch, but then it’s also a lot more comfortable with the suspension put in its most cosseting setting.

And it’s this jack-of-all-trades character that makes the Ateca Cupra so appealing – it gets mighty close to a hot hatch for fun while being a far more usable proposition in almost every other way. In terms of entertaining family cars, not many strike the balance quite so well.

How practical is it?

The Cupra Ateca is spacious and comfy but it’s a bit of a shame that you have to adjust the driver’s seat by hand when other SUVs have electric power to do that for you  

The Cupra Ateca is so comfy and practical it’s easy to forget it can blow the likes of a Golf GTI away from the lights

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert
Boot (seats up)
Boot (seats down)

You should find it easy to get comfortable behind the wheel of the Cupra Ateca. The alcantara seats have snug side bolsters that hug your body. The steering wheel moves for reach and rake (up and down) and the front seats come with lumbar adjustment.

It’s just a shame you have to do all that adjustment yourself – there’s no electrical adjustment for either the driver’s seat or steering wheel, which you might have expected in a car at this price.

Passenger space in the back is good, however. There’s plenty of space for a couple of lanky teenagers – kneeroom and headroom is fine for tall adults. You can fit three people in the back and you won’t hear many complaints from them either – shoulder room is ok and the footwells are spacious enough not to crush their feet either.

The only downside is large hump in the middle of the floor so middle-seat passengers will need to have a foot in the footwells either side.

The Cupra Ateca not quite as practical as the standard SEAT Ateca. It has big storage spaces in the front doors, smaller ones in the rear, but it doesn’t have a sunglasses holder (thanks to the panoramic sunroof)  or a storage tray underneath the driver’s seat.

Still, there’s a shelf to store your phone underneath the infotainment system. And if your phone is compatible, it will charge it wirelessly too. There’s another storage bin between the driver and the passenger, but the glovebox isn’t the biggest around.

There are a couple of cupholders in the arm rest in the back, and a couple of USB ports for back seat passengers. And there’s a small shelf for at least one of their phones too, underneath the UBSs.

The Cupra Ateca is a tad smaller than the SEAT on which it’s based – it will hold 25 litres fewer than the standard car, that equates to about the size of a soft sports bag. That’s down to the four-wheel drive system in the Cupra.

Still, at 485 litres, that’s still enough for a couple of suitcases and is certainly a good deal bigger than in the Golf R.

Fold the rear seats down and you get a load space that is big enough to take a bicycle without having to take the wheels off. And you can flip those rear seats down by a lever in the boot – you don’t have to walk round to the rear side doors to fold the seats flat.

There’s not much else to write home about the boot in terms of practicality – there are no nets or power sockets. You can carry long, thin items however, as there is a hatch behind the rear armrest which opens up into the main part of the cabin.

What's it like to drive?

The Cupra Ateca drives like a hot hatch – it’s fast and fun. Fuel economy isn’t quite so impressive but if that’s what you’re after, look elsewhere for a sensible diesel

Remember David Banner, the mild mannered doctor who turns into the Incredible Hulk? That’s your Cupra Ateca.

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

The combination of a 300hp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and four-wheel drive in the Cupra Ateca is a potent one. The car will go from 0-60mph in just 5.2 seconds and has a top speed of 153mph. And that performance is relatively controlled thanks to the four-wheel drive. The engine is powerful enough to pull the car strongly whether you are setting off from the lights or easing past slower traffic on the motorway.

The flipside of that performance however, is of course fuel economy. Officially, the Cupra Ateca averages 38mpg but if you use the car to its full potential you won’t get particularly close to that – our test drives averaged in the mid-20s and up you might get up to 30mpg on a motorway run. But if you are interested in getting near to the official figures you’re in the wrong car.

The Cupra Ateca comes as standard with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. You can also switch it to manual mode to shift ‘gears’ via flappy paddles mounted on the steering wheel.

The Cupra Ateca can be a comfortable cruiser, soaking up bumps with ease and going round corners with minimum of fuss. Your passengers will never know they are in a car that can beat many a hot hatch away from the lights.

But in a moment (or bit of pressure on the accelerator) the character of the car can completely change. It whooshes off at traffic lights, zooms around bends and, well, is a hoot to drive.

The change in character is highlighted by the various driving modes which you can change via a dial on the centre console. Comfort is David Banner – it tones down engine response and softens up the suspension.

Sport is when Hulk starts to turn angry, while Cupra mode is full-on greenman rage. There is an Individual setting to set the car up to your own tastes, as well as snow and off-road settings.

The DSG even has launch mode and the Digital Driver’s Display has a lap-timer so you’ve got the perfect track day car that can take you home via the supermarket for a weekly shop.

With all this power on tap, you’ll be glad to know the Cupra Ateca comes with a host of safety kit, including rear-cross traffic alert, blind spot detection, City Emergency Braking,  Pedestrian Protection, Cruise Control with Lane Keep Assist and Tiredness Protection.

What's it like inside?

The Cupra Ateca interior is stylish and well-made, albeit a little gloomy, but it doesn’t have the flare of the exterior design

Next Read full interior review