- Nicely styled and generously equipped
- Drives well with impressive balance through bends
- Well priced with a great choice of engines, transmissions and trim levels
- The ride is a little on the firm side
- Choosing the 4WD version impacts on boot space
- In such a competitive sector, it lacks a real ‘wow’ factor
The SEAT Ateca has already proved a big hit selling more than 300,000 units since launch in 2016 with the UK market accounting for 40,000 of them. Now it is bigger and better in every way with lots of extra safety and technical kit, new trim levels to choose from, plus a fresh design,
The market is being flooded with practical, good-looking family SUVs these days so the SEAT Ateca has lots of competition. But with a rich choice of diesel or petrol engines, manual or auto transmissions, front or all-wheel drive and a range of well-equipped trim levels, there will be a car to suit all requirements and budgets, especially as most of the new models are cheaper than the cars they replace.
On The Road
With six trim levels to choose from, the revamped SEAT Ateca is on sale powered by the latest range of efficient petrol and diesel engines with manual or auto gearboxes and the option of all-wheel drive.
We selected the range-topping Xperience Lux version powered by a 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine matched to a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox and with 4Drive (SEAT’s 4WD system).
With 150PS of power and 340Nm of torque, our Ateca could complete the 0-62mph dash in 8.7 seconds and maxed out at 122mph.
While they are not the most exhilarating figures, the 2.0-litre engine is deceptively punchy and the acceleration through the gears is smooth and responsive. There are steering wheel-mounted paddles for added driver engagement and the car feels well balanced through corners with the nicely weighted and precise steering offering ample feedback.
Admittedly, it’s not the fastest out the starting blocks and there are more dynamic SUVs out there, but the Ateca is definitely no slouch and delivers an impressive all-round performance with agile handling in busier settings, plus a good turning lock to help make light work of parking.
It feels well settled through sweeping bends and the body roll is minimal provided corners are given a degree of respect.
The SEAT Ateca is a car for all occasions and the driving experience is enhanced thanks to the various drive modes called Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual. Our car also came with 4WD so had two additional drive modes named Off-road and Snow.
The suspension set-up does a good enough job, but the ride is a little on the firm side and you will notice it if you hit an unexpected dip or bump in the road as it sends quite a judder through the car.
That said; our car was riding high on 19-inch wheels whereas some of the lower-trim levels come with either 17 or 18-inch wheels. These my not look so appealing, but generally the ride quality is far better… along with fuel efficiency.
It has to be said that SUV developers are faced with a really tricky dilemma. Customers want the practicality and versatility that comes with a high-sided family car, but they also demand sublime driving dynamics along the way. The Ateca certainly does a very worth job of delivering on both counts.
There are faster, more dynamic cars out there, but you would probably have to dig deeper into the savings to get such an impressive all-rounder as the Ateca.
The SEAT Ateca is a five-door family SUV that’s big on style and very easy on the eye. And the latest upgrades have added extra appeal. Although it maintains its broad, muscular stance, it has grown in length by 18mm due to the redesigned front and rear bumpers. It features flowing lines, muscular wheel arches, along with a new grille and full LED headlights.
The new Ateca features a more chiselled appearance, plus a new rear bumper, the introduction of full LED rear lights and new tailpipe covers. The test car had a rear spoiler, powered tailgate and smart 19-inch machined alloy wheels to complete the styling.
The interior boasts an upgraded infotainment system which is the main focal point within the upmarket cabin. There are leather upholstered seats, a newly upholstered leather steering wheel, and the windscreen on Xperience trims feature an invisible Climacoat layer that allows the screen to be defrosted almost instantly.
There are smart matte finish surrounds, soft-touch surfaces and neat ambient lighting to help give the car a most premium feel.
The powered sports seats on our test model delivered a very high standard of comfort with lumbar adjustment and side bolsters for added support when powering through the bends.
A new voice recognition system is brought to life when you say ‘Hola, Hola’ and will interact with the infotainment system via basic commands and also keep you connected to smart devices.
With regards to trim levels, customers can choose from SE, SE Technology, sporty FR and FR Sport and new Xperience and Xperience Lux that replace the outgoing Xcellence trims.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
With a good range of powered seat and manual steering wheel adjustment, finding a comfortable driving position within the SEAT Ateca is easy and the driver benefits from the elevated position with excellent all-round visibility. Bearing in mind the Ateca is geared towards families and likely to be a regular at the school gates, the unobscured visibility is an essential factor.
The seats can be heated to fend off the winter blues and the Ateca is generously kitted out with technology and creature comforts (especially in our range-topping test model).
When the Ateca was launched back in 2016, it was viewed as one of the most digital mid-sized SUVs around and that has been enhanced with the upgraded 2020 model. On-board features include a 9.2-inch infotainment touchscreen with full smartphone integration via Mirror Link, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is a DAB radio, full navigation system, Bluetooth audio streaming, a 360-degree top-view camera, ambient lighting, a rear-view camera and plenty more besides.
The 10.25-inch high-resolution digital driver cluster behind the steering wheel is fully customisable and all the readouts are easy to read on the fly. The separate panel for all the climate control functions is another well thought-out feature as it does not cause any driver distraction.
In addition, there is a SEAT Connect app. From the comfort of your smartphone, you can remotely lock or unlock the car, find where you have parked, access driving data from previous journeys. You can set up speed alerts and be informed if someone is driving the car too fast or if the vehicle has been stolen. And if you are searching for the car in a busy car park, you can activate the indicators and sound the horn to make spotting it easier.
The four Type C-USB ports mean occupants can stay connected with their devices on the move.
Space & Practicality
The SEAT Ateca is a five-door SUV that is big on space and practicality. It measures 4.38 metres in length, is 1.84 metres wide (including mirrors) and is 1.61 metres high. The 2.63-metre wheelbase results in plenty of cabin and boot space making the Ateca a good choice for any active family that likes to travel in style.
The boot can swallow 485 litres of kit – a limit that increases to 1,149 litres. The space in the front-wheel drive versions is slightly larger at 510 and 1,174 litres respectively.
Elsewhere there are numerous convenient storage spaces scattered throughout the car. These include a glovebox, central bin, door pockets, front and rear cup holders, some handy trays and seat back pockets.
There is ample room for two adults to stretch out in the back of the car or three if they don’t mind rubbing shoulders. That said; if you get a couple of six footers up front and they decide to push their seats right back, then rear legroom does get a little limited.
The SEAT Ateca line-up is priced from £23,670 for the entry-level SE model and rises to £33,685 for the high-end Xperience Lux version, that we tested.
There was previously a range-topping Ateca CUPRA model but that has now been withdrawn as CUPRA has formed its own company and there is now a separate CUPRA Ateca model.
Our test car was powered by a 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine and could deliver a combined 44.1-47.1mpg, under stricter WLTP testing, with carbon emissions of 157g/km.
This CO2 figure would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £555 dropping to the standard rate of £155 after 12 months. And, for business users, the car has a Benefit in Kind tax rating of 35 per cent.
The SEAT Ateca Xperience Lux, as tested, sits in insurance group 19.
Quality & Reliability
SEAT’s parent company is Volkswagen so it has a good, though not great reputation when it comes to reliability often being placed in the top half of customer satisfaction surveys.
The black leather upholstery is both practical and well-made. The seats offer ample support and the quality is certainly at the higher end of the scale.
There is a considerable amount of hard plastic that, whilst being hard-wearing, may start displaying scratches over time.
All the climate control settings are adjusted via buttons and dials, meaning the touchscreen does not get too many fingerprint marks and these are easily wiped clean with a cloth.
And beneath the bonnet you will discover lots of tried and tested VW technology and running gear.
For peace of mind, the SEAT Ateca is supplied with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. That warranty is fairly standard across the board, although the likes of Kia, SsangYong and Hyundai do offer more attractive packages.
Safety & Security
The SEAT Ateca was awarded a maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating scoring highly in individual categories.
The Ateca has always been viewed as one of the safest cars in its class and the revised model gains even more technology including a range of advanced driver assistance systems.
The predictive adaptive cruise control (ACC) with side and exit assist, and the front assist pre-crash braking work together to protect the vehicle and its occupants.
This clever ACC set-up uses feeds from GPS data delivered from the navigation system along with input from the front-mounted camera and traffic sign recognition. It collates this information to amend the cruise control speed depending on the road layout ahead taking into account bends, roundabouts, junctions, changes in speed limits and built-up areas, making life for the driver simpler.
Additional safety features include the likes of anti-lock brakes, traction control, front assist with autonomous emergency braking, hill hold control, electronic stability control, Isofix fittings, a driver fatigue monitor, plus a full suite of airbags.
There is also an emergency e-Call system that works via a built-in eSIM. The emergency services are contacted in the event of an accident and supplied with vital information such as the car’s GPS position, the engine type and the number of occupants.
Our test car also featured 4Drive with off-road and snow modes to keep you motoring in more adverse driving conditions.
An anti-theft alarm system will help keep the SEAT Ateca protected from any uninvited attention.
The overwhelming demand for SUVs is showing no sign of letting up with buyers wanting neatly-packaged, practical vehicles that are bursting with technology, practical to run and still leave some funds in the bank balance. The SEAT Ateca certainly ticks all those boxes.