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Ateca sets the pace in SEAT’s SUV attack

PUBLISHED: 14:39 05 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:39 05 January 2018

SEAT Ateca family sport utility vehicle has a roomy cabin, big boot and is good to drive. Picture: SEAT

SEAT Ateca family sport utility vehicle has a roomy cabin, big boot and is good to drive. Picture: SEAT

SEAT

The mid-range Ateca has capably heralded SEAT’s next two-pronged assault on the fast-growing SUV sector, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Bold styling gives SEAT Ateca road presence. Picture: SEATBold styling gives SEAT Ateca road presence. Picture: SEAT

A big factor in the growth of sport utility vehicles and crossovers has been Volkswagen Group popping out a stream of mix-and-match models. With small, medium and large SUVs, and four brands in Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and SEAT, it tests your mettle to know their metal.

Now SEAT and Skoda are catching up – the former kicked its SUV line-up off with the Ateca, is now adding the smaller Arona with a flagship, seven-seater to come, while Skoda’s large Kodiaq is being joined by mid-range Karoq.

Looks and image

Fascia works well but cabin is quite sombre. Picture: SEATFascia works well but cabin is quite sombre. Picture: SEAT

Despite sharing platforms and running gear, each brand has managed to maintain its identity.

For SEAT think, sharp angles and creases – key to the Spanish brand’s design flair. It’s looks dynamic and stylish, disguising its size well.

Under the bonnet

Deep 510-litre boot takes a good load of luggage . Picture: SEATDeep 510-litre boot takes a good load of luggage . Picture: SEAT

There’s 115PS 1.6-litre and 150 and 190PS 2.0-litre turbo diesels but petrol suits the Ateca, if you do average miles, with 115PS 1.0-litre and 150PS 1.4-litre turbos.

The 1.4 engine cuts to two cylinders on a light throttle to save fuel for a real-world 45 to 50mpg. Pay £1,380 for a seven-speed automatic gearbox, with flappy paddles, and it’s easy-going in traffic and energetic on the open road, especially in sport mode.

How it drives

The suspension is quite firm, keeping the body in check through corners and aiding handling, not to the point of being harsh on poor roads but not soft and springy like some rivals.

You notice what’s going on beneath the wheels, and some tyre noise, but it’s a fair trade-off for the entertaining driving experience.

Pull away sharpish on a damp road and the front wheels are a bit lively until the traction control gets to grips.

Space and comfort

Surprisingly spacious inside, with abundant leg and headroom in the back even with six-footers up front, the Ateca also has a boxy 510-litre boot, deep enough to stack luggage up in, so is well up to family duty.

It’s worth paying £120 for a removable panel which slots in at sill level to create a long floor with the 60/40 rear seat backs down.

At the wheel

Simple white on black dials, a large, high-level infotainment touchscreen and no-nonsense heating and ventilation knobs and buttons put the driver in touch and in control.

Front seats give good support but I found them narrow across the back and short under the thigh. The cabin is well trimmed but brightwork highlights can’t hide the sombre feel.

Final say

The accomplished Ateca has set the scene for SEAT’s SUV assault – good to drive, easy to live with and family friendly.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: SEAT Ateca SE Technology 1.4 EcoTSI DSG £25,595 (range from £18,670)

Engine: 1,395cc, 150PS, four-cylinder turbo petrol mated to seven-speed automatic gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 8.6 seconds; top speed 123mph

MPG: Urban 44.1; extra urban 57.6; combined 51.4

CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 24pc

Insurance group: (out of 50) 18E

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,363mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,078mm; H 1,611mm

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