SEAT Ateca Xcellence

4Drive

IT'S somewhat surprising that it has taken SEAT such a long time to produce its first mid sized SUV.

After all every other manufacturer in the Volkswagen group has had one for some time. There's VW themselves with the Tiguan, Skoda with the Yeti and Audi with its Q3.

But having taken the plunge with the new Ateca SEAT now offers an enormous line up starting from just under £18,000 to the range-topping 190bhp Xcellence model, tested here, at £30,000.

So what do you get for the extra cash? Well quite a lot actually.

Apart from the most powerful engine in the line up you also get four-wheel-drive, superb black leather upholstery with heated seats in the front, special 18-inch "Performance" alloy wheels and rain and light sensors to name just a few features.

With the Ateca SEAT has managed to create a car that has the bulk to offer generous interior space for five people combined with sporting styling in keeping with the Spanish company's racy image.

There's also generous luggage space too and even though it's a little less with the four-wheel-drive model - 485 litres - that's still more than the best selling Nissan Qashqai.

A bold front with swept back headlights, deep cuts in the side bodywork, roof rails and heavily tinted privacy glass give it an imposing appearance.

Inside there's an upmarket air with the leather seating, stylish dashboard layout and eight inch colour touch screen.

Unlock the car at night and puddle lights from the mirrors project the shape and name of the Ateca onto the floor where you are about to enter. A nice touch.

Given its VW platform and engine it's perhaps not surprising that from behind the wheel the Ateca has a similar feel to the Tiguan, all be it with the more sporting SEAT bias and less expensive price tag.

Four-wheel-drive models come with a circular dial near the gear shift which allows you to dial up the drive you want from eco through normal to sport or even an individual set up.

Turn the wheel even further and you can dial off-road work or snow to ensure you keep out of trouble in bad weather.

And while it's unlikely most Atecas will be used for nothing more arduous than the daily school run it's nice to know that if you drive one you are well equipped for the winter.

With 190bhp under the bonnet mated to a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox it's hardly surprising that the Ateca is lively and boasts plenty of torque.

The handling is impressive, even sports car like with plenty of grip on bends and little or no body roll.

But while it does have sporting performance the nice thing is this is a very quiet, refined car that's easy to live with and offers sensible fuel economy, albeit less than the two-wheel-drive models in the range.

FAST FACTS

SEAT Ateca Xcellence 4Drive

Price: £29,990

Mechanical: 190bhp, 1,968cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 132mph

0-62mph: 7.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 53.3

Insurance Group: 19

C02 emissions: 135g/km

Bik rating: 27%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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