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Car Review

Seat Ateca review

£23,400 - £31,405
Published: 12 Dec 2023
With its good looks, well judged handling and competitive pricing, the Ateca remains a strong candidate for your shortlist

Good stuff

Good looking, drives well, handles well, priced well

Bad stuff

Interior a little bland, no seven-seat option, Leon Estate exists


What is it?

Seat’s first proper crossover, which landed on the scene in 2016 to rival all those many other little (but not too little) five-seat SUVs that are all the rage. You know the ones – the Nissan Qashqai got things going a few years ago, but nowadays it’s all about the Peugeot 3008, VW Tiguan, Skoda Karoq, Kia Sportage and so-on.

Based on the VW Group’s established MQB platform, it’s to the Leon what the Tiguan is to the Golf, and what the Karoq is to the Scala. A raised-up hatchback offering more space (but no more seats) for people and things in exchange for more money.

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Quite smart, isn’t it? 

Very Seat. Back in 2020, it received a (minor) mid-life facelift with updates to the grille, front and rear bumpers, and head- and tail-lights. As well as that, uh, new handwritten name badge on the rear – we’ll let you make your own mind up there.

Pity the interior, which is nonetheless functional and well-built, feels a little old hat compared to the 3008 and Sportage, even with Seat’s latest infotainment system. Still, at least you get actual knobs and buttons for the climate controls. Much of it will likely look and feel quite familiar, because VW Group. Full details over on the Interior tab.

What engines have I got to choose from?

Nice and simple here – it's between a trusty pair of 1.0-litre or 1.5-litre turbocharged petrols. The former is a perky 3cyl number, while the latter is a more mature 4cyl with the option of a DSG auto. There is no hybrid of any description – be it mild or plug-in – nor a full-electric version. If you want a plug-in hybrid Seat, you’ll need to look at the seven-seat Tarraco or Leon Estate.

There is a performance version of the Ateca, though – sold under Seat’s ‘Cupra’ brand (it’s simply the Cupra Ateca – there are no Seat badges to speak of). It uses a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with just under 300bhp, meaning 0-62mph in not much over five seconds.

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The Seat engines are more geared toward economy than the performance of the Cupra – you can expect fuel economy in the high 30s per gallon.

Is it any good to drive?

We’ve got few complaints with either the 1.0 or 1.5 engine. Both are pleasingly quiet, smooth and refined. Where the former was possibly a little underpowered, the latter felt a good fit, while its ability to shut down two of its four-cylinders under low load meant there was little difference in fuel economy. 

It’s one of the better handling crossovers out there too, with precise steering and good body control giving you confidence around corners. This does mean the ride is slightly firmer than some of its rivals, but nothing to get too concerned about. Head over to the Driving tab for the full breakdown.

Is it expensive?

Depends on your definition. And budget. Prices for the Ateca start from just over £28k and rise into the mid-30k region. So less than the 3008 but more than the Sportage and Qashqai.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

The Ateca drives well, has strong, economical engines, looks and feels the part... and doesn’t cost the earth to buy

The Ateca remains one of the best five-seat crossovers you can buy. It drives well, has a good range of strong, economical engines, looks and feels the part (outside at least, the interior looks a bit dull) and doesn’t cost the earth to buy in the first place.

Its only real flaw is the competition in what is an immensely competitive part of the market – you'd have to really want a Seat to give it a clear win over other cars around it. The Seat Tarraco is worth a look if you want seven seats, but the rivals at Skoda offer neat family packages with lots of nice touches. 

Then there's the Leon Estate, which is a much newer car than the Ateca, and better to drive, more practical and more economical. If you’re not dead set on an SUV, it’s a compelling alternative.

The Rivals

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