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Seat Ateca Test Drive Review

Date: 22 June 2016   |   Author: John Mahoney

Category: Compact SUV
P11D price: £25,760
Key rival: Nissan Qashqai
On sale: September 2016
Equipment: 7 airbags, wireless phone charger, keyless go, LED headlamps, satnav, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, 18in alloys
Engines: Diesel: 115hp 1.6, 150hp/190hp 2.1 Petrol: 115hp 1.0T, 150hp 1.4T
Trims: S, SE, First Edition, Xcellence
Transmissions: 6-spd manual, 7-spd dual-clutch auto

Last year, Seat shifted just 47,600 vehicles overall in the UK - 11% down on 2015 - and this year things aren't looking much better with just 20,400 cars registered so far.

However, from a business perspective, the brand says it has made investments in building long-term sustainable growth in the build-up to the arrival of perhaps the most important car in the firm's recent history - the new Ateca. This is the vehicle tasked with turning round the company's fortunes.

We'll never know the reasons for Seat ignoring the booming SUV segment for the past decade, but the wake-up call might have been when Nissan's Qashqai became Britain's fifth-best seller. Now it has something to compete, and later on a smaller, Nissan Juke rival, will follow.

Launched three months after VW's new Tiguan, the Seat SUV shares much with the German - from its platform to what powers it, plus all of its advanced features, but not its looks.

While the Tiguan is classy, but conservative, the Ateca is far more visually arresting in the flesh, picking up from where the handsome Leon hatch left off.

Under the bonnet, all the engines make a fine business case - from the pint-sized 115hp 1.0-litre turbo petrol that averages 54mpg, to the powerful 190hp all-wheel drive 2.0-litre diesel that still only emits 131g/km.

Best for fleet is the 115hp 1.6-litre diesel that returns 65.7mpg while emitting 114g/km of CO2, but as it wasn't available, we focused on what will become the best seller: the front-wheel drive 150hp 2.0 TDI.

Combined with a six-speed manual or a quick and efficient seven-speed dual-clutch auto, the 2.0-litre is smooth and relaxing, with plenty of pulling power from down low in the rev range. Performance isn't startling - 0-62mph takes 8.5 seconds - but it will be more than enough for most.

To drive, the steering is accurate, but the ride and handling can't quite match the high levels set by the Tiguan. That's because all front-wheel drive Atecas get cheaper rear suspension than the Volkswagen, which is a shame, but it's no deal breaker, and most won't notice.

As far as kit count goes, again, the Seat excels beside its rivals, with all models having autonomous emergency braking and, on average, higher equipment levels than the likes of the Nissan Qashqai.

Speaking of which, the Nissan that helped invent the compact SUV segment runs the Ateca closest and, ultimately, just pips the Seat for costs, which is unfortunate as the Ateca is the better car, offers more space and practicality for families, has a more powerful engine and lower P11D, and will be more efficient to run.

Hopefully, the well-deserved RV lift that's due will give it back class-beating costs, lower leasing costs and ensure Seat gets the sales it deserves.

Seat Ateca 2.0 TDI Xcellence

Model price range £17,990-£29,990
Residual value 38.7%
Depreciation £15,785
Fuel £4695
Service, maintenance and repair £2433
Vehicle Excise Duty £60
National Insurance £2560
Cost per mile 54.0p
Fuel consumption 64.2mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 114/km (22%)
BIK 20/40% per month £94/£189
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 510 litres
Engine size/power 1968cc/150hp


Seat's first SUV leaps straight to the top in terms of costs and ability
  • Stylish
  • Practical
  • Well-made
  • Full of kit, decent range of engines
  • Lower-power versions not as good to drive as pricier AWD models