SEAT Ateca Xcellence

1.5 TSI Evo

SEAT Ateca, front
SEAT Ateca, front, action
SEAT Ateca, side, static
SEAT Ateca, rear
SEAT Ateca, boot
SEAT Ateca, cabin

STOP-start ignition is commonplace in new cars these days - a useful tool in the armoury to attain better economy and contain harmful gases.

Yes, it can be a tad irritating at times though we get why it's there. But what about cylinder deactivation?

This where half the cylinders - four in the case of the SEAT Ateca 1.5 TSI Evo - shut down when you pootle around, saving fuel and aiding the environment. And even better than stop-start which is always noticeably, it's almost impossible to detect when the engine is running on just two cylinders.

Best of all is that there's no hesitation when you put your foot down. The innovation helps the tidy, mid-size SUV achieve 52.3mpg combined.

Not that the Ateca is all about frugality. In fact, it's one of the most fun high-riders in the marketplace from a driving point of view.

With a 148bhp motor and a more compact body than its VW stablemate, the Tiguan, it picks up its heels and scampers to 62mph in under nine seconds.

More significant than statistics though, is the manner in which it delivers the punch. It revs freely and eagerly with a level of refinement that you are unable to find in a four-pot diesel. Coupled to a slick six-speed manual gearbox with a light change, all the ingredients are there for a decent drive.

It must be added that SEAT engineers have managed to build in a reasonable amount of feel to the steering which enhances driver involvement and makes it more fun to punt around country lanes.

In character with the sporty nature of the Ateca, the ride is a bit firmer than most SUVs which benefits on-road driving and handling which is largely roll-free. As with all but the flagship version, the 1.5 TSI is driven just by its front wheels and doesn't make any pretence towards off-road exploration.

On the practical side of things, despite its compact size, passenger space and luggage room as better than average with a generous and regular-shaped boot capable of absorbing 510 litres of cargo.

Rear seats split 60-40 and fold but there's a noticeable step which can be a nuisance if you are carrying long, heavy items.

Occupants sit fairly upright which maximises the legroom, allowing plenty of space even for those six-foot-plus. The fascia is well made and tough-looking if a bit drab and unimaginative. No problem with cubbies, lockers or door pockets which easily soak up the family clobber.

A large touchscreen dominates the dash and works well. SEAT has, in this tester's view, reached the right compromise between helpful technology and old-school knobs and switches.

The Xcellence version includes plenty of treats such as, electric folding door mirrors, sat nav, Bluetooth, leather/suede seating, keyless entry and automatic headlights. A panoramic glass sunroof is £1,000 extra.

FAST FACTS

SEAT Ateca Xcellence 1.5 TSI Evo

Price: £26,895

Mechanical:148bhp, 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 125mph

0-62mph: 8.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 52.3

Insurance Group: 18

C02 emissions: 126g/km

Bik rating: 29%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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