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Ateca -The New Crossover From SEAT That Tops The Class
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
The crossover market is a crowded one and rather late to the party is SEAT, whose new Ateca is now in the showrooms with prices starting at a competitive £17,990.

The Ateca will kick start the SEAT SUV story and I'm told we can expect at least two other models before the end of the decade. With Skoda readying its new 7-seater Kodiaq, it would seem likely that a SEAT version will be one of them. If further confirmation were needed, the Ateca is built at Skoda's Kvasiny factory in the Czech Republic.

The Volkswagen Group has in fact committed to investing 3.3 billion Euros in SEAT until 2019 to fund its continued growth. Exciting times indeed for the Spanish manufacturer.

Even before the cars hit the showrooms, the Ateca caused quite a stir with over 11,000 people expressing an interest in buying one.

The new Ateca is sharply styled, with a front grille and headlights clearly derived from the SEAT Leon, a roofline that tapers downwards at the rear and a pronounced window line kink at the C-pillar.

There is a choice of five trim levels. All models boast alloy wheels, air conditioning and a five-inch touchscreen. Base model is the 'S', but next in line 'SE' variants would most likely be my choice, adding cruise control, a larger eight-inch touchscreen with Apple Car Play and climate control into the mix.

Xcellence models top the pile with smart heated leather seats, increased connectivity, LED headlights and some smart chrome addenda.

More decisions must be made with regards to engine choice - there are two petrol (1.0TSI 115 and 1.4 TSI 150) and three diesel (1.6 TDI 115, 2.0 TDI 150 and 190PS). All engines boast commendably low emissions (113-135g/km CO2) and have the potential for excellent economy (52.3-65.7mpg combined).

Four-wheel drive (4Drive in SEAT speak) is available on both 2.0 TDI engines and only in top trim. I suspect take up will therefore be modest.

A slick six-speed manual gearbox is standard across the range, with optional seven-speed DSG automatic also only available with diesel power.

Prices start at a very reasonable £17,990, comfortably undercutting most of the obvious competition. Pick the range-topping Xcellence with 4Drive and DSG-auto and be prepared to part with just under £30,000.

Safety sells and the Ateca is not found wanting in this department. An innovative high-tech package of safety aids come as standard including Front Assist with City Emergency Braking, Tiredness Recognition and Multi-Collision Brake. These complement the seven airbags, ESC, traction control and tyre pressure monitor.

Sitting on the same platform as the new Volkswagen Tiguan (a good place to start), the Ateca is slightly smaller. Boot space however is better than most with 510 litres of usable space available. Interior passenger space is excellent with plenty of room for large occupants front and rear.

The driving position is pleasantly elevated and all the major controls fall easily to hand, have a quality feel to them and will be familiar to existing Volkswagen Group car owners.

Having driven a variety of models at the UK launch event, I requested a 1.0-litre petrol variant for extended testing in modest SE guise. I felt this might be the sweet spot in the range.

The three cylinder engine boasts a rather lovely off-beat thrum and feels perkier than the on paper figures would suggest (0-62mph in 11 seconds). It revs eagerly and combined with a slick six-speed gearbox, brisk progress is easy to make.

Most of my week with the Ateca I was travelling alone and so perhaps should add that those who regularly travel fully laden might be better with the 1.4-litre petrol engine. Increased performance undoubtedly, but mourn the loss of that charismatic engine note and a lighter wallet to the tune of £1,500.

Handling is sharp, the Ateca exhibiting very little body roll on challenging local roads. It comprehensively trumps most of the competition in this regard and proved to be a fun and lively companion.

However the trade off is a firm ride which may not suit all, especially if the car is to spend most of its time in the confines of the city. Save £340 and stick with factory standard 16-inch alloy wheels.

Arriving late to the SUV party has led SEAT to price the Ateca aggressively to attract new customers. And attract them they will, with a winning combination of sharp styling, comprehensive equipment and sporty handling.

Were I in the market for a family-friendly SUV, the Ateca would right at the top of my list. It quashes the Qashqai, trumps the Tiguan and quite frankly makes a mockery of the Mokka!

Good work SEAT.

Fast Facts

SEAT Ateca SE 1.0 TSI Ecomotive
Price £19,590 (£22,465 as tested)
Options Sat Nav (£525), LED lights (£820), white paint (£575)
115PS 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine
0-62mph in 11 seconds
Top speed 114mph
Fuel economy: 54.3mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions: 119g/km

Ateca -The New Crossover From SEAT That Tops The Class, 23rd January 2017, 9:32 AM