Good-looking SUV drives well, handles well, is priced well
Infotainment isn't the easiest to use. 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 seem to be 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.
Few of them are bad cars, but fewer still are as well-rounded as the Ateca. Based on the VW Group’s established MQB platform, it’s to the Leon what the Tiguan is to the Golf, and what the Skoda 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. Indeed, these things are a good, workable size for a family of four. The Ateca starts at just over £23,000, with prices rising to £40,000 for the Cupra.
Quite smart, isn’t it? Very Seat. 2020’s facelift updates the grille, front-and rear-bumpers and head- and taillights.
Pity the interior, which is nonetheless functional and well-built, feels a little old-hat alongside rivals such as the Peugeot 3008, even with Seat’s latest infotainment system borrowed from the all-new Leon. Still, at least you get actual knobs and buttons for the climate controls. And it drives well - certainly far better than it needs to.
Much of the tech will look and feel quite familiar, because VW Group, and so too will the engines, now updated to meet current emissions regs. You can have 1.0, 1.5 or 2.0-litre turbo petrols or a 2.0-litre diesel. With most engines you get a choice between six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG gearboxes, but it’s only the bigger, more powerful motors that get the option of all-wheel drive.
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, giving 0-62mph in not much over five seconds. We haven’t driven the facelifted Cupra yet, but our review of the old car (which is basically identical) is hidden behind these blue words.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
This latest facelift hasn’t done much to change our opinion of the Ateca. It remains one of the best five-seat crossovers you can buy. It drives well, has a good range of strong, economical engines, looks/feels the part (at least outside, 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. The Skoda Kodiaq, which is every bit as good as the Ateca (if not as sharp to drive), is even more practical thanks to the two extra seats in the boot. Admittedly it might cost a little more money to buy outright, but if you’re on a PCP deal the price difference between a decently-specced Ateca and the Skodiaq is negligible.
Then there's the new Leon Estate, of which you can read our review by clicking here. It's a much newer car than the Ateca, and better to drive, more practical and more economical. If we wanted a family-friendly Seat it's what we'd choose.