SEAT's sporting SUV

SEAT Ateca, front
SEAT Ateca, front, action
SEAT Ateca, side, static
SEAT Ateca, rear
SEAT Ateca, boot
SEAT Ateca SE 1.0 TSI, instrument panel

IT can be amazing how the traffic goes sometimes when I have a long haul to do.

One normally three to four hour trip recently took me over six on a Friday afternoon. I know - Friday is always the worst day and I should have left earlier.

And then there was the wonderful long weekend I had in the SEAT Ateca 1.4 turbo petrol, covering 340 miles on all kinds of roads - mainly across country - and there was little traffic wherever I went.

The return trip was on the evening of a bank holiday Monday and I thought it would be dire.

But it was fabulous, with hardly anyone out, space to overtake and a great car to enjoy. What's not to like.

The Ateca has been gathering accolades by the dozen since it was launched and having that week with one, I can see why.

It's clean, crisp lines are far better looking than those of the VW Tiguan it's based on, and although many people will opt for the 1.6 or 2.0-litre diesels, the equivalent diesel will take about four years to break even with this petrol when all costs are taken into account.

The power unit is supremely quiet and refined and works beautifully in this model. It has a clever system that can shut down two of its four cylinders when they're not needed, to maximise economy.

Driving pretty quickly but carefully on one of those long runs, I got the real economy up to 43mpg, which is excellent for a car of the size.

It was delightful to drive in every way, with plenty of urge for overtaking or losing those ever present tailgaters, who have no idea how dangerously they drive.

The steering is brilliant, precise and full of feel, the handling is excellent and it is matched by tenacious and very safe road-holding.

It treated a series of sharp bends on one of my test routes with complete disdain, helping to give me a fabulous drive.

There's very little roll allowed by the fairly firm suspension, which is how it achieves the high level of road-holding.

But that firm suspension also means a jittery and unsettled ride over some poorer surfaces and reduced comfort on rough roads at slow speeds in town.

The SE 1.4 I drove is only available with front wheel drive. If you want all wheel drive, only the top 2.0-litre diesel comes with it on some models.

FAST FACTS

Price: £22,100

Mechanical: 147bhp, 1,395cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 125mph

0-62mph: 8.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 53

Insurance Group: 13

C02 emissions: 122g/km

Bik rating: 23%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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