IF you ever thought SUV's were boring, then the SEAT Ateca FR 2.0 TSI will change your mind in an instant.
It is one of the growing families of SUVs, and that includes a number from SEAT and the rest of the parent VW Group, but it brings a little extra pizzazz to the family party.
The proportions and practical nature of this Ateca are a good starting point for the driving enthusiasts at SEAT to power up their passion and deliver a really lively family car with a foot in the performance sector.
The SEAT Ateca range is truly huge and most are petrol powered but a few diesels are included in a handful of trim levels and packs, but it is our version which really sets alight the senses.
The well developed powertrain combines a really responsive engine from standstill with composed performance under acceleration or when cruising on main roads and matched to a sweet changing automatic transmission which allows you to be easy or excited depending on mood.
You can alter the responses to stretch economy and comfort or pick performance and a more dynamic drive, but whichever you choose you'll not be disappointed.
The engine is powerful for a car weighing about 1.5 tonnes and that means it can cover ground quickly and when you ease off it also returns very good economy. In fact we managed to better the stated combined consumption figure of 48mpg by an amazing 7mpg, and that's really unusual.
But it was the way the powertrain worked without strain which impressed most, matched with good power steering for agility and feedback, excellent brakes underfoot and an intelligent four-wheel-drive (4WD) footprint for damp spring roads.
Everything came together very well when required, with a good layout for major and minor controls, large clear instruments and excellent vision all-round with big wipers and bright headlights.
Access was unrestricted and all the seats were comfortable in the cushion and backrests, but a little short of legroom for taller users. The rear split-back seats were noticeably short of legroom and headroom was not great in the back either.
Infront the oddments space was ungenerous and even worse in the back, surprising for a family car, and the bootspace was also more of a compromise to keep the overall dimensions tight.
The SEAT Ateca's mechanical refinement and sophisticated interior contrasted with the amount of road noise which entered the cabin and the occasionally stiff ride over bad roads. It was nearly always comfortable but some bumps and potholes were felt.
On the road it really handled well, inspired confidence in corners and proved agile in traffic and town as well. A good all rounder, with an edge you'd appreciate on more open roads and longer trips.