IF you are going to be late to the party you have to make an entrance and SEAT did exactly that with the launch of its first SUV early last autumn.
The stylish and very attractive Ateca (named after a small Spanish village) has certainly rattled the opposition and I recently spent a few days with the flagship model.
Range prices start from a tempting £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.
Five engines are available - three diesel, two petrol - and with five well-equipped trim levels - S, SE, First Edition, SE Technology and Xcellence - there should be something to suit every budget and taste.
SEAT is aiming to take sales away from the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Ford Kuga and expects orders to be split evenly between private and business buyers and petrol and diesel power plants.
The Ateca sits on the same platform as the Leon and shares some of the hatchbacks looks although it has been enlarged in every direction.
The trapezoidal grille is instantly recognisable and the SUV's looks are enhanced by sharp lines, smart headlights and tail lamps, LED running lamps and it also boasts roof rails, handsome alloys, tinted windows and lots of nice trim.
Inside the cabin is crammed with all the latest tech and features you need for driver and passenger comfort.
Space is slightly tighter than in its sister VW Tiguan as the Ateca sits on a shorter platform but there is room for five.
It is still very practical with a 510 litre boot (485 litres in four-wheel-drive models) which goes up to 1,604 litres when the rear seats are folded.
The top Xcellence model I dorve had all the creature comforts you would expect to find in a premium model and more. You get a wireless phone charger, numerous driver aids, a great sound system and puddle lights to help keep your feet dry when you get out of the car.
The comfortable seats are surprisingly only manually adjustable but are heated on this model and the steering wheel was also easily adjusted to provide the perfect driving position.
As you would expect from a VW group car, the instruments and controls are well laid out, easily read and operated and have a sturdy feel to them. The soft touch materials enhance the quality of the cabin which features bags of kit.
Powered by the 150ps 2.0-litre diesel, this model is good for 122mph and a sprint to 62mph in just 9.0 seconds with emisssions of 129g/km.
Mated to a nice six-speed manual gearbox, the engine delivered its power smoothly and without fuss as it made progress.
The driver can select from - Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual driving modes and in this AWD version you also benefit from the addition of Off-Road and Snow choices for more difficult weather and ground conditions.
A combined fuel economy of 55.4mpg is claimed but in the real world you will get about the 50 mark depending on how hard you push it.
The Ateca offered bags of grip and holds the road very well with precise steering which offered good feedback.
It proved to be at home in town centres or motorways and was agile and easy to park.
The Ateca also benefits from all the latest safety features and has very good visibility to help you make the right choices.
The car was priced at £27,425 but had a few options - park assist, electronic tailgate and an upmarket sound system, as well as machined bi-colour alloys - which took the final price to £30,030.