SEAT Ateca sets high

benchmark

SEAT Ateca, front
SEAT Ateca, front, action
SEAT Ateca, side, static
SEAT Ateca, interior, manual
SEAT Ateca, wireless phone charger
SEAT Ateca, boot
SEAT Ateca, rear
SEAT Ateca, console

SEAT is not a name that is readily associated with SUVs but that is all about to change thanks to the introduction of the all-new five-door Ateca model which is another class act in an already fast-growing and fiercely competitive segment.

With a choice of five engines at launch - three diesel, two petrol - and five richly-equipped trim levels - S, SE, First Edition, SE Technology and Xcellence - SEAT is hoping to hunt down the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Ford Kuga in the compact SUV market.

The Ateca, which in true SEAT tradition shares its name with a small village in central Spain, features the same wheelbase as the SEAT Leon, but it has experienced quite a growth spurt to say the least.

It's like someone has come along and stretched the Leon in every direction and the result is the rather splendid Ateca.

Eye-catching design cues include the instantly recognisable trapezoidal grille, sharp styled lines, signature headlights and tail lamps, LED daytime running lights, tinted windows, lots of chrome trim, smart alloys, roof rails and plenty more.

And when you move inside the cabin you are greeted with a wealth of on-board technology.

Creature comforts are plentiful and as you move up through the trim levels you can expect to see features often only seen on premium models.

The Ateca has all the connectivity capabilities you could wish for including a wireless phone charger, a pitch perfect sound system, lots of driver aids and a list of techno treats that goes on and on. I particularly like the Ateca puddle lamps.

Prices start from £17,990 and rise to £29,990 and customers can select from two or four-wheel drive versions as well as manual or DSG automatic transmissions.

Sales are expected to be split evenly between fleet and retail and also between petrol and diesel and with so much choice it would seem there is an Ateca to suit all tastes.

The interior of the car is very spacious and the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility thanks to the high seated driving position.

There are lots of storage options scattered throughout the car and the boot has a 510 litres capacity (485 litres on 4x4 versions).

This limit is increased to 1,604 litres with the rear seats folded (1,579 litres on the 4WD models).

With so much choice on offer we tried a cross section of models. First up was the mighty 2.0-litre TDI 4Drive 150ps model in range-topping Xcellence trim with six-speed manual transmission.

This car was priced at £27,425, but a few options including the likes of park assist, an electric tailgate with virtual pedal and a 10-speaker stereo bumped the price up to £30,700.

The car could reach from 0-62 in 9.0 seconds, topped out at 122 mph, had combined fuel economy of 55.4mpg and carbon emissions of 129g/km.

Firstly, it has to be said that the Ateca is exceptionally comfortable and with seats that are easily adjusted and a steering wheel that moves in, out, up and down it's easy to get that perfect driving position.

All the dials, controls and read-out are simple to operate and the vehicle has a clutter-free appearance whilst still boasting plenty of kit.

The 2.0-litre engine was beautifully tuned and delivered all the power and acceleration required as it moved effortlessly through the gears.

In town centres it cruised along and proved very agile and easy to manoeuvre with very little engine or road surface noise filtering through to the cabin.

On faster roads, the steering was precise, the road-holding assured and there was next-to-no body roll into sharp bends. This particular car is at the higher end of the pricing scale, but proved a very valid flagship model.

The driver can select from different driving modes called - Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual - and the 4WD model also offers the addition of Off-Road and Snow modes to cope with more testing conditions.

Next up was the punchy 1.0-litre, three-cylinder 115ps petrol model in SE trim with six-speed manual gearbox priced at £19,590 - increased to £22,465 with options added.

This model can reach 62mph from a standing start in 11.0 seconds, has a top speed of 114mph, combined fuel efficiency of 54.3mpg and carbon emissions of 119g/km.

Anyone who thinks a car the size of the Ateca can't possibly be powered by a little three-pot engine needs to think again, because this car is fun, fun, fun all the way.

The acceleration is sharp and rapid and there is only any whizzy engine noise when you push it incredibly hard, which to be fair actually adds to the enjoyment factor.

Long steep inclines posed no problems and although the car was not fully loaded with occupants and luggage it's difficult to imagine it would struggle with any challenges put in its path.

The final car we sampled is likely to prove very popular with fleet drivers.

It's the Ateca First Edition 1.6 TDI Ecomotive 115ps, once again with a six-speed manual transmission.

This particular model carried a £24,305 price-tag (increased to £24,880 with extras added) and could reach from 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds and maxed out at 114mph.

According to official figures, it can deliver a creditable 64.2mpg on a combined run with CO2 emissions of 114g/km.

Obviously the economy figures on this car will be the deciding factor for business drivers up and down the country.

The First Edition models are limited to a run of just 200 and are selling fast. They have a full satellite navigation system included as standard which again is a must on any fleet car.

Once more this Ateca was a delight to drive and cruised along with ease in both city centres and out on faster motorways.

To be honest, all three cars had their own individual appeal and the entire range shows excellent potential.

And when you factor in the raft of safety specifications, the SEAT Ateca is certainly going to make its mark in the compact SUV market - a welcome newcomer that helps keep the SEAT benchmark very high.

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