SEAT Ateca SE

Technology 1.6 TDI

Ecomotive

SEAT Ateca, front action
SEAT Ateca, front static
SEAT Ateca, rear action
SEAT Ateca, rear static
SEAT Ateca, dashboard
SEAT Ateca, interior
SEAT Ateca, puddle light
SEAT Ateca, interior rear
SEAT Ateca, boot
SEAT Ateca, front seats
SEAT Ateca, upright

THE Ateca, SEAT's first SUV, supplied my comedy moment of the year so far.

Pulling on to the drive one evening my mate jumped out of the car then, appalled, called me round to witness an act of vandalism to my brick paving.

But what he thought was some spray-painting vandal leaving a message was in fact the result of a rather clever spotlight emitted by the door mirror projecting a silhouette of the Ateca's shape plus moniker on to the floor.

The image, emitted on both sides of the car, is rather fetching and shows the compact SUV's stylish aspirations.

Slide on to the comfortable and fully adjustable driver's seat and you are struck by the attention to detail SEAT has put into its SUV.

The eight-inch colour touchscreen features buttons at the side making switching from the map to the choice of radio stations a cinch - even while negotiating the urban jungle.

The dual-zone climate control is similarly easy to use via a rotary dial while the steering wheel is festooned with controls for the car's many functions.

All the switchgear looks and feels modern and there's automatic everything with wipers and headlights, including full beam, operating via sensors.

The high roofline ensures plenty of headroom, while legroom is also more than adequate.

Boot space comes in at a cave-like 510 litres in the front-wheel drive model I drove, with 4x4 models getting slightly less at 485 litres.

The rear seats split and fold flat increasing the Ateca's practicality for shifting large loads when required.

In case you're wondering where the name came from, Ateca follows SEAT's preference for naming its cars after an area of Spain - in this case a small town of just over 2,000 people located in the province of Zaragoza in the north-east of the country.

However, construction takes place in the Czech Republic alongside another member of the VW family, the Skoda Yeti.

In motoring terms it translates into a mid-sized crossover designed to take on the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and Renault Kadjar in a sector that appears the only game in town these days for families looking for both versatility, space and style.

The Ateca sits on parent Volkswagen's MQB platform that has proved its worth in the latest Golf and VW's Tiguan SUV.

Prices start from under £18,000 which makes it good value against its major rivals. Even the range-topping model comes in at less than £30,000.

It accesses VW Group's excellent engines so features two petrols and three disesels in the line-up with private and company car buyers catered for.

The Ateca is rare in the SUV world for offering a 1.0-litre turbocharged, three-cylinder petrol engine which, together with front-wheel drive and the manual box, enables SEAT to keenly price the entry-level model. The engine would be too small for most SUVs but the Ateca is relatively light at 1.3 tonnes making the unit a viable option.

The diesels are set to be the most popular with buyers though as the 1.6-litre oil burner I drove claims average fuel consumption in excess of 60mpg as well as tax-limiting carbon dioxide emissions.

All power units are linked to a slick-changing six-speed manual transmission with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive also available.

For the UK market the well-equipped mid-range SE cars, featuring dual zone climate control, cruise control, electrically adjustable heated and folding door mirrors and rear parking sensors, are expected to hoover up the majority of orders.

FAST FACTS

SEAT Ateca SE Technology 1.6 TDI Ecomotive

Price:£24,170

Mechanical:115ps, 1,598cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:114mph

0-62mph:11.5 seconds

Combined MPG:64.2

Insurance Group:11

C02 emissions:114g/km

Bik rating:22%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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