HAVING the right car at the right time is what all auto makers aim to deliver and for SEAT it's the Ateca.
Named after a village in Spain, the Ateca is going to be big on the European car market, having immediately won awards after its launch in the summer of 2016.
In Britain the new-generation SUV sits in a range alongside the older Leon and much older Alhambra and it runs to 16 models split 50/ 50 petrol or diesel with four power outputs and all-wheel-drive (AWD) transmission available on the top ones.
The Ateca's powertrain begins with the busy four-cylinder 1.0-litre developing 115ps we drove and it's a really impressive unit which combines easily achieved economy with reasonably lively performance.
The pulling power of the engine is possibly the most impressive element thanks to some very well judged gear ratios. It's very impressive when one-up but put a couple of passengers inside and it continues to return good performance and economy in a surprising manner.
At low and medium revs. the engine is very smooth and quiet and it continues to be smooth but noisier when it's under load, but the fuel consumption remains remarkably modest even when pressed.
I liked the light clutch and slick six-speed gearchange, the feelsome brakes underfoot and the positive touch to the steering, turning the Ateca in tight spaces without being twitchy on open roads.
Secondary controls are generally well laid out and convenient with simple instruments displayed infront of the driver and clear to read. The heating and ventilation system was very simple and effective and backed up with powered windows.
Our car had the optional eight-inch satnav system which worked well and was straightforward and combined with aux and DAB radio systems, a convenience pack of automatic wipers and lights as well as very expensive LED headlights and together with some other extra fittings added £2,900 to the on road price and taking it to a whopping £23,025.
Oddments room was good for a family car throughout and the options included a bootspace double floor arrangement which I would recommend to keep wet items separate from dry if you go outdoors a lot. Luggage space is easy to use and of good size.
Access for driver and passengers is also effortless and once inside the flatter back seats are roomy though not as comfortable as the shaped and adjustable front pair. Headroom is particularly good throughout.
Visibility is clear in all directions with a low waistline and slim roof pillars, very good wipers and optional LED headlights.
Noise levels are modest as stated before, the most noticeable being suspension bump-thump and road rumbles from the tyres with little wind or mechanical noises apart from the engine under severe loading.
I found the ride was surprisingly good for a car of this size and type. It was comfortable and compliant at all times and few passengers commented on this as a surprise to them.
Handling was safe and surefooted despite being just front wheel drive and the body roll was well controlled with hardly any pitching or dipping under acceleration and braking at moderate speed.
Overall I think my most continuing impression of the SEAT Ateca 1.0 was its refinement. You might not realise it had such a small engine because it went so well and returned good economy for a petrol engine.