Latest report - Seat Ateca long-term test
13 April 2017
Author: Tristan Young
|P11D price £21,845|
|As tested £24,720 |
|Official consumption 65.7mpg|
5th report - Standing out - for good and bad
Taking over a long-termer part-way through a six-month stint is always interesting for the different viewpoints it creates compared to the previous owner. For this new driver the Ateca is fascinating from a number of perspectives: for one, it's the first Seat I've ever had as a long-termer in nearly 20 years of business vehicle testing, and so a reflection of how far Seat has come as a fleet-relevant brand.
Also, because the Ateca in particular seems to be the right product at the right time for the Spanish brand, pitched firmly in the sweet spot of the compact crossover market, one of the fastest-growing sales segments, but one full of worthy rivals.
First impressions are that the car looks and feels right. Its similarity to the class-leading, trailblazing Nissan Qashqai - the original family crossover really is striking, although the Ateca is more angular around the wheel arches and bonnet and more sawn off at the rear (although only ceding 14mm in overall length to the Nissan).
However, the Ateca also benefits from the rarity factor compared to the super-popular Qashqai, although this may change when the revised Nissan arrives later this year. It stands out from its rival and others because it's only been on sale for half a year in the UK and Seat's never done a crossover before.
The bright orange metallic paintwork is also gaining attention - in a positive sense, from my 12-year old daughter who mentions it high up among her likes along with the rear headroom, compared to our previous long-term Mini Clubman - but also, and unfortunately, from at least one hater, who has decided to key both driver-side doors within the last month. Standing out clearly has its downsides too. We'll report back on how we fix that in the next report.
Our average consumption 43.9mpg
4th report - The wrong engine?
The Seat Ateca's fuel consumption has been amazingly consistent throughout the 7,000 miles I've been running it. Unfortunately, there's no avoiding the fact that it's been consistently poor. No matter how I drive the car, what drive mode it's in, or the type of road, it delivers mid-40s mpg.
This car's claimed official figure is 65.7mpg, making our average of 44.9mpg more than 30% under the on-paper stat. Usually I'm within 20% of the official figure. And the best I've seen hasn't even broken the 50mpg barrier.
We chose the 1.6 diesel version because, according to official figures, it's the most tax- and fuel-efficient so should be the business choice in the Ateca range. When we picked the 1.6 diesel our concern wasn't about the fuel consumption, but about whether the 115hp engine would provide enough oomph.
As it turns out, this isn't an issue and it's rare that the car ever feels underpowered. Even when fully loaded with a roofbox at Christmas, the car could easily keep up with motorway traffic, although, as we've mentioned before, the 1.6 is an intrusively noisy engine at 70mph.
Interestingly, I recently tested the top-spec Ateca with the much more refined 190hp 2.0-litre diesel engine, four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox. Over 1,000 miles we achieved 41mpg. It's official figure is 53.3mpg, making us just 23% out.
In reality this shows that for every car there is a 'right' size and power of engine for the best fuel economy and that simply opting for the most efficient on-paper may not always be the best solution.
3rd report - Room to move
With Christmas now an increasingly distant memory, I can positively report that the Seat Ateca is impressively roomy.
Why Christmas? Because we spent the festive period away with relatives, which meant packing not only myself, my wife and our two kids into the Ateca, but also our three dogs and the cat. We then had to include all the luggage and, what seemed to be, far too many Christmas presents.
Now obviously you can't get all of that in any small SUV, so we did use a Thule roofbox for extra storage. However, we did learn a lot about the room in the Ateca. First special mention must go to the split-level load floor in the boot. When in its upmost position, not only is the load floor flat with the bumper making it easy for the dogs to leap in and out, but it hides a seriously useful space beneath, which we used mostly to hide the kids' presents in.
The only thing that could have improved this would have been if the tyre inflation kit was more efficiently packaged and stored in a different location, say, a side pocket of the boot. The amount of polystyrene used to pack the kit seems excessive and wastes space. Move the kit to the side and there would be more room and a more useful shape to pack.
While I'm making suggested improvements, my personal preference is for a soft, retractable, boot cover. The fixed hard cover in the Ateca had to be removed and left at home because the dogs don't like being in the dark, but that meant when we were out and about on holiday we couldn't cover up, for security, any belongings left in the boot.
But to end on a positive, not only is the boot big for the class, the rear seat legroom is also good, and seating four adults is no problem at all.
2nd report - A window on the dealer network
This may only be the second report for the Seat Ateca, but we've already had a chance to test the dealer network. As mentioned in the first report, the Ateca arrived with a faulty front passenger power window.
The window went down fine, but the auto-up didn't work - the window went halfway, gave up and returned to the down position. The solution was to nudge the window button a little at a time and it eventually closed.
So a quick look on the dealer locator on the Seat.co.uk website revealed my closest service centre was SMC Seat Woking in Surrey. A quick phone call revealed they didn't have time to see the car for two weeks, and more if I wanted a courtesy car.
The next nearest (and slightly easier to get to for me) was Camberley Service Centre, who were able to book the car in for the work in less than a week and could provide a courtesy car (if I hadn't needed the courtesy car I could have booked the car in just 48 hours later). Excellent.
On the day of the booking I dropped the Ateca off in the morning, used the courtesy car to get to a couple of meetings, and just after lunch I had a message saying the car was fixed and I could collect it.
So everything was sorted within a day. First-rate service.
The problem, according to the service centre, was that the runner for the window hadn't been attached properly.
That was all of 1,000 miles or so ago and the window has, thankfully, been working perfectly ever since. Let's hope I don't have to visit the dealer network again, even though the experience was a good one.
First report - Bright future for Seat?
Seat has never really been as strong in fleet as it deserves to be. The products have almost always been just as good to drive and use as class-leading rivals and often come with better equipment levels and keener pricing.
Yet the fleet sales have never really materialised. Now with the Ateca arriving in the booming mid-size SUV sector, are Seat's fortunes about to change?
We've taken the most efficient version, the 1.6 TDI Ecomotive in SE trim level, onto the BusinessCar fleet for the next six months to see how it performs.
The 1.6 TDI SE is not only the most efficient, but it's also expected to be the most popular model in the corporate sector.
The 115hp 1.6-litre is the fleet choice because it emits just 113g/km of CO2, so qualifying for the 22% benefit-in-kind tax band, which means a monthly tax payment of either £80 or £161 depending on your PAYE banding.
While this figure isn't quite class-leading - the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar both come in at 99g/km - it is good in the class. And the same applies to the official fuel figure of 65.7mpg, although for fleets the real-world figure is of more interest.
On that note, the first three fill-ups have produced a slightly disappointing 46.1mpg average, which is 30% below the claimed figure.
Sticking with the engine, it's also surprisingly noisy at a 70mph motorway cruise with a pronounced buzzy drone. The car only has 3,000 miles on the clock so far, so hopefully a few more miles will both smooth things out and see an improvement in fuel figures.
Where the Seat wins back points, particularly against rivals, is with the equipment offered. Going for SE trim means that standard kit includes alloy wheels, two-zone climate control, Bluetooth, cruise control, rear parking sensors, two USB sockets and an eight-inch colour touchscreen.
On top of this collection, our car has been optioned with navigation and DAB radio (£525), the convenience pack (£170) that includes auto wipers and lights, LED headlights (£820 and includes puddle lights), dark-tinted rear windows (£180), 17-inch bi-colour alloys (£340), something called 'advanced interior light' (£150), and a double boot floor divider (£115).
So far, aside from the noisy engine, we're loving the driving experience and the surprising amount of rear legroom. What we're not loving is the fact that the car has arrived with a fault.
The front passenger electric window isn't working properly. It goes down fine, but the auto-up doesn't work - the window gets halfway, gives up and returns to the down position. The solution is to nudge the window button a little at a time and it will eventually close. That's far from ideal so we'll book it in to be looked at as soon as possible.