Carzone drives SEAT’s first ever SUV on Irish roads
Pros: Striking looks, quality feel, fun to drive
Cons: Rivals more established, basic specification on entry models
This is SEAT’s first ever SUV, the new Ateca, and it should come as no surprise considering the popularity of crossover cars on the marketplace right now. Based on the same platform as the popular Seat Leon, blessed with striking styling and competitively priced, the Ateca has the right ingredients to take on the big guns in the segment including the Nissan Qashqai and its own stablemate, the Volkswagen Tiguan. We spent a week driving the new Ateca on Irish roads to see if it can find success in 2017.
What is it like?
The Ateca adopts SEAT’s sharp design methodology with pronounced lines and angles, and that makes it one of the best looking cars in the compact SUV class. Our top of the range XCELLENCE specification Ateca benefits from full LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels for an extra touch of class. Lower specification models have to make do with smaller alloy wheels and regular lights which tames the overall appeal however.
Stepping inside the Ateca, it feels similar to the latest generation SEAT Leon and that’s because it shares the same chassis. The dash materials are sturdy yet soft to touch, the centre console is clearly laid out and there is plenty of head room thanks to the raised SUV roofline. There is a lot of adjustment available through the steering wheel and the front seats have side support which makes it easy to get comfortable quickly. The build quality is good, but lags behind premium cars like the new Audi Q2 and Volkswagen Tiguan.
Our test car is fitted with the most powerful engine in the range, SEAT’s 2.0-litre TDI which produces 190bhp and boasts a four-wheel drive system. There’s no doubt about it, this engine makes for powerful driving and performance with 0-100km/h taking 7.5 seconds, but most buyers will likely gravitate towards the more affordable and sensible options in the range. There are two petrols to choose from with, 1.0-litre and 1.4-litre options, though the mid-range 1.6-litre TDI diesel is our bet for being the best seller here in Ireland. Out on the road the Ateca handles with confidence and offers a firm but comfortable ride.
SUV buyers need practicality and the Ateca doesn’t disappoint in this regard. Five adults can sit in comfort with plenty of space in the rear seats, and it also offers more boot space than rivals like the Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Qashqai (510 litres) when specced in two-wheel drive, while opting for the four-wheel drive Ateca reduces boot space. The Ateca shares many of its components with the new Volkswagen Tiguan, but it’s a little disappointing to note that it doesn’t get the same reclining and sliding rear seats.
We managed 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres in fuel economy (41 MPG) during our test which is fine, bearing in mind that this is the largest engine in the range, paired with a thirsty four-wheel drive system and automatic gearbox. Annual road tax comes in at €280 for the year which is higher than its rivals, though buyers seeking better economy and lower outlays should consider the more frugal 1.6-litre TDI diesel Ateca. All in all, the Ateca matches its rivals when it comes to running costs.
Prices for the new Ateca kick off at €25,120 for the base specification S model which puts it right in contention with cars like the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar. 16-inch alloy wheels, SEAT’s front assist system and a colour touchscreen infotainment system are featured on all models, though you’ll have to stretch to the higher specification SE model to enjoy features like rear parking sensors, cruise control and advanced climate control. At this price, it makes for a very competitive package and its considerably cheaper than its premium stablemate, the Volkswagen Tiguan. Some of its rivals boast a better spec list, but it’s hard to argue with the high quality feel of the Ateca at this low price point.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Qashqai may be the default choices in the SUV segment right now, but the striking appeal and pricing of the Ateca make for an enticing proposition. It ticks all of the right boxes for success in the SUV segment, with space and practicality in droves, a strong engine line-up and fun driving characteristics out on the road. As a brand new model it will take time for the Ateca to garner a reputation with Irish buyers however, and entry level models don’t enjoy the same levels of equipment as similarly-priced rivals. All in, SEAT deserves a pat on the back for its first SUV, and it’s a sign of great things to come for the brand in 2017.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: SEAT ATECA XCELLENCE
Prices from: €25,120 / €279 per month
Price as tested: €41,881
Annual Road Tax: €280
Engine: 1968cc four-cylinder diesel
Power/Torque: 190hp, 400Nm
Top Speed: 212 km/h
0-100km/h: 7.5 seconds
Transmission: Automatic DSG
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 485 litres