WHEN it hit UK roads in the late summer of 2016, the Ateca was SEAT's first foray into the SUV market place.
Despite this somewhat late entry into one of the industry's most buoyant sectors the Spanish car maker has quickly made significant inroads and at the end of 2018, with the smaller Arona having also joined its line-up, crossovers were accounting for 35 percent of total sales.
With the seven-seat also Tarraco due to hit showrooms any time now, SEAT will have a fully fledged SUV family and looks well set to cash in on the continuing huge demand for such vehicles.
The Ateca is the obvious choice for the typical family, offering a well-rounded package of style, practicality and space alongside the engaging driving dynamics for which SEAT, as the sportier brand in the VW Group stable, is well known.
Prices start from Â£21,940 and there's an Ateca to suit most budgets and tastes with six well-equipped trim grades and an efficient range of proven petrol and diesel engines to choose from, ranging from an 85ps 1.0-litre unit up to a 190ps 2.0-litre offering.
All-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission are available with some versions, including the 1.5-litre TSI EVO petrol power plant in our test car.
This will be a popular choice, offering, as it does, the performance and refinement of a petrol engine with fuel economy that is boosted by its clever ability to deactivate two of its cylinders when extra oomph is not necessary.
In front-wheel drive spec and mated to the standard six-speed manual gearbox that we had, it'll shift the Ateca from 0-62mph in a spritely 8.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 125mph while offering claimed fuel economy of up to 51.4 miles per gallon on average - although somewhere in the low forties is more likely in reality.
In typical SEAT fashion this perky performance comes alongside a pleasantly involving drive - the brand having managed to endow this SUV with some of the character of its popular Leon hatchback.
It handles nimbly for a taller vehicle, responding keenly to steering and throttle inputs, and stays settled and flat through bends. The assured body control does mean a slightly firm ride, and you'll certainly feel larger potholes, but it doesn't stray into uncomfortable territory.
The Ateca's dashboard will have a very familiar look to anyone who has spent time in the Leon - but that's not a bad thing and means an intuitive eight-inch touchscreen multimedia interface (6.5-inch on entry level cars) sits above three simple rotary dials for the climate control functions.
Although there are some scratchy plastics to be found, pleasantly yielding and tactile surfaces adorn many key touchpoints and there's little to complain about when factoring in the cabin space available.
Head and leg room is generous in the back and three adults will be comfortable on shorter journeys, while there is decent personal storage space and the boot, at 510 litres, is big enough to cope with family holidays - although it's worth noting that this is reduced slightly in four-wheel drive versions.
Equipment levels are also impressive, with all cars getting alloy wheels, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, park assist, cruise control, city emergency braking and SEAT Drive Profile with normal, sport, eco and configurable individual modes.
Our Xcellence trim test car sits one below the range-topper and boasted extra bells and whistles such as digital radio, navigation, multi-colour ambient lighting, keyless entry and ignition, wireless phone charging, rearview camera and nifty silhouette puddle lights on the wing mirrors.