SEAT Ateca : First Drives

In Car Reviews, Seat by Tim Barnes-Clay

SEAT isn’t exactly used to making Sport Utility Vehicles.

In fact, the all-new SEAT Ateca is the first SUV ever produced by the Stylish, Spanish automaker.

Tim Barnes-Clay driving the SEAT Ateca at the recent launch in Barcelona.

The Ateca is the freshest in a crowd of mid-size crossovers that includes the long-in-the-tooth Ford Kuga and the Nissan Qashqai. The SUV aims to beat these cars into a pulp with its much funkier looks, good road manners and excellent value for money.

I got to drive the SEAT Ateca over in Barcelona, ahead of September’s UK dealership debut. Barcelona is beautiful, but busy, so getting out of second gear can be an issue. But, away from the beeping horns and demented-hornet-like mopeds, the SEAT Ateca showed off its talents nicely.

I drove the top-of-the-range 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel version. In this model, there’s enough poke to push on and pummel the boundaries of ‘sensible SUV’ driving. SEAT likes to have a reputation for being a youthful, sporty marque, so it should come as no surprise that the car is dynamic in every way.

Behind the wheel, the driving position is flexible and there’s loads of adjustment in the steering and seating departments. At slower speeds, the 187bhp oil-burner emanates that all-too-familiar diesel chatter, but it soon shakes that off when the open road begs for pace.

The SEAT Ateca pulls muscularly from low revs, and when mated with a seven-speed automatic transmission, progress is a real pleasure. With 187 horses, the Ateca gallops from zero to 62mph in just 8.5 seconds.

The sporty nature of this Spanish SUV means there’s a small trade-off in the form of a firm ride, but never (at least on Spanish roads) is it uncomfortable. On the more snaking rural routes outside of Barcelona, the SEAT Ateca demonstrated how much it likes to hug curves. Indeed, body control is so good that there’s no real detectable roll on corners, and the steering is razor sharp. The car is genuinely entertaining to drive – which is more than can be said for the majority of SUVs.

The potent 187bhp SEAT Ateca comes with the dog’s-danglies – in other words, it comes fully loaded with four-wheel-drive as well as the aforementioned seven-speed auto gearbox. That heady, but potentially fuel-guzzling blend, gives an official and unexpectedly respectable combined consumption figure of 56.5mpg, while CO2 emissions are 135g/km.

Not everything is hunky-dory with the Ateca, though. The cabin materials, while good quality around the top of the dashboard, are a bit shoddy on the lower part of the centre console. The story is the same on the doors and around the electric window switches. Plus, the SEAT Ateca shares the same wheelbase as the SEAT Leon. This means it isn’t overly roomy in the rear, but it is on par with Nissan’s Qashqai.

The windscreen sticker price for a brand new SEAT Ateca starts at just under £18,000. That’s two whole grand cheaper than the Blue Oval’s basic Ford Kuga offering and £500 less than an entry level Qashqai.
What’s more, due to a multitude of safety aids, the SEAT Ateca has been awarded the top five stars by crash test safety body, Euro NCAP.
When all is said and done, you really can’t pick many faults with the Ateca.

A compelling car and an awesome first SUV from SEAT.

  • Stylish

  • Powerful

  • Handling

  • Fun

  • Plastics

Car reviewed: SEAT Ateca 2.0 TDI 190PS 4Drive DSG XCELLENCE, priced at £29,990


Maximum speed: 132mph,
0-62mph; 8.5secs,
combined mpg: 56.5
Engine layout: 1968cc 4-cylinder 16v turbo diesel
Max power: 187bhp
CO2 emissions: 135/km

The 2016 SEAT Ateca reviewed by

Tim Barnes-Clay


Tim Barnes-Clay qualified as a journalist in 1994 and is a member of the Midland Group of Motoring Writers. He initially trained in broadcast journalism and has worked as a reporter and news reader at various radio stations in East Anglia and the Midlands. He has also been a motoring journalist for the Mirror Group’s L!ve TV cable network and a presenter, reporter and producer at ITV Central in Birmingham. Tim is now an automotive writer, focusing on car reviews. He has media accreditation with all motor manufacturers’ press offices, and this enables him to test drive the latest cars. He also attends new vehicle press launches at home and abroad.

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