SOMETIMES it's rather fashionable to arrive a little late to a party, to make an entrance, get heads turning - and that's exactly what SEAT did when it launched the Ateca.
While other car manufacturers were churning out the compact crossover cars by the dozens, SEAT seemed to hold back and then introduced its first SUV onto the market. And it's quite a corker.
It's named after a small village in Spain as is the SEAT way and shares the same wheelbase as the SEAT Leon albeit with quite a growth spurt.
The result is a great looking car that's packed with all the latest infotainment systems, is economical to buy and run, yet drives with all the pizzazz associated with the SEAT marque.
Our range-topping Xcellence model was priced at £26,030 (£28,555 with options fitted) and was powered by a punchy 1.4-litre 150ps petrol engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
It could sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 8.5 seconds, maxed out at 125mph and, according to official figures, delivered combined fuel economy of 52.3mpg with carbon emissions of 123g/km.
The Ateca is instantly recognisable as a SEAT thanks to the trademark trapezoidal grille with the company emblem.
Other styling cues include a sporty, muscular stance with sharp angled lines, signature headlights and taillamps, LED daytime running lights, roof rails and 19-inch bi-coloured alloy wheels that added £680 to the cost.
Move inside and the Ateca is ultra-modern and clutter free. And there's an abundance of on-board techno treats to explore, such as Full Link technology complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to connect a smartphone and an eight-inch touchscreen.
There's sat nav, a rear-view camera, leather upholstery, ambient lighting, tinted windows, along with chrome trim on the roof rails, tailpipes and window surrounds. Our car featured an Xcellence Pack costing Â£1,270 that added a top view camera, park assist and an electric tailgate.
When it comes to performance, the Ateca can hold its head high in the SUV sector. SEAT has a well-deserved reputation for being the brand within the VW Group that excels when it comes to performance and the Ateca is another perfect example of that. The acceleration through the gears is nicely responsive and there is ample power on tap to overtake at short notice.
The road holding is confident and assured meaning bends can be attacked at pace, and despite its SUV-styling there's little sign of any body roll into tight bends or corners.
The ride is quite firm with only the most severe potholes sending you off track and the cabin is well insulated against any road surface, wind or engine noise.
The driver can select from different driving modes called Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual that alter the way the car handles and the steering is nice and precise.
The elevated driving position results in excellent all-round visibility and this is yet another plus factor for a model that will often by utilised on the school run with cars, children and cyclists darting out from all angles.
Being an SUV, the Ateca needs to be a practical car and it is. There is room in the back for two adults (three at a squeeze) and there is lots of storage space too.
The boot has a capacity of 510 litres that is increased to 1,604 litres with the rear seats dropped flat and elsewhere there are ample cubby holes to hide away bits and pieces from view.
The SEAT scored highly when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating achieving the maximum five stars.