By Mike Torpey on 2016-12-31 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
SEAT Ateca 1.6
THERE are several ways of viewing late arrivals to the uber-competitive compact SUV scene.
You can say they've missed the boat - and probably didn't expect to be that serious a player anyway.
Or, like in the case of the new SEAT Ateca, have taken the chance to analyse the opposition, learn from their mistakes and serve up something that delivers on every level.
Established models like the Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage, Renault Captur and, principally, the Nissan Qashqai are seen as the Ateca's main rivals and at around entry grade it undercuts them all in price.
It looks the part too with a low-slung and swept back profile while boasting a face that seems to carry a welcoming smile - visually a crossover that really catches the eye.
Step inside the Ateca and you find a cabin that's simply laid out and spacious, with room for three across the back and the cockpit has been designed around the driver so the controls are closely grouped together.
Boot capacity is also half decent, with a double floor plus pocket at each corner while the folding rear seats can be easily operated from the boot.
There are some thoughtful touches too, like the puddle lights which illuminate the area below the doors, projecting the Ateca's name onto the ground, and the ambient lighting which gives passengers a choice of eight colours.
Technology options extend from full-LED headlights to assistance systems like Traffic Jam Assist and Emergency Assist, plus infotainment set-ups with eight-inch touchscreens and Full Link connectivity.
Costing from £17,990, the car comes with a choice of five engines, while both six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG twin clutch auto transmissions are also up for grabs.
The turbocharged TSI petrol and TDI diesel engines span a power band from 115ps to 190ps, with either front-wheel or all-wheel-drive, so there's something for just about everyone.
The tested First Edition variant, from the middle of the five trim grades, had the least powered of the oil-burners, a 1.6-litre TDI Ecomotive unit producing 115ps.
It's not the quietest of engines, nor does it have a lot of punch, but it's adequate for everyday family duty and, significantly, capable of returning close to an average 60 miles per gallon.
Otherwise this is an enjoyable and well balanced car to drive, with the minimum of roll and had plenty of feedback from the steering.
Not only is it a very important car to SEAT but also one the Volkswagen-owned Spanish brand has plenty of confidence in.
SEAT Ateca 1.6 Ecomotive First Edition
Mechanical: 115ps, 1,598cc, 4cyl diesel driving front wheels via six-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 114mph
0-62mph: 11.5 seconds
Combined MPG: 64.2
Insurance Group: 14
C02 emissions: 114g/km
Bik rating: 22%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
Choose from one or more of the options to find the car for you.
Based on your search find the dealership
nearest to you.