Seat have never attempted an SUV before but good lord, it seems like they have been at it for years. This is a very good looking car with excellent lines.
As Seat is owned by VW, it will come as no surprise that it looks a tad like the Tiguan and that’s no bad thing. The attempt, of course, is to steal the crown of the Nissan Qashqai that has dominated this sector for quite some time and l think they have done a sterling job.
There is a choice of engines from 1.4 to 2.0 offering 150bhp and 187bhp respectively and comes with 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive. The interior is well finished and laid out and has that familiar VW whiff about it. The infotainment screen works well and options include LED headlights, surround-view cameras and radar cruise which, at crawling speed in traffic, will accelerate, brake and steer with zero input from the driver – so a good kip is in order then!
The entry level 1.0-litre turbo petrol really does not have the puff required but, unless you need 4WD, the hot model will be the 150bhp 1.4 turbo petrol that will give you all the pep you need and feels light and lively and is actually great fun to drive. It’s stable when you chuck it around, with minimum roll. The 4WD versions come with a different suspension and is therefore more precise but you will suffer from carrying around that extra weight and it’s no livelier than the 1.4.
This is a very important car for the Spanish company and they have a lot riding on it therefore it is with great fortune and, no doubt, a lot of hard work that they have hit the jackpot with a car that’s great to look at, fun to drive, built to last and comes in at a highly competitive price, with the entry model starting at only £18,340.
It is the Auto Express Crossover of the Year and the What Car Best Small SUV and l am sure there are further accolades to come. Seat global sales are up 13.7% over 2016 and this makes it one of the fastest growing brands in Europe.
If you are thinking of joining the herd and buying a Qashqai, don’t! The Ateca will outdo it in just about every arena, is cheaper and more fun and, best of all, you can pronounce the name of the bloody thing!
Model tested: Ateca Xcellence 1.4 EcoTSI
Engine: 1.4-litre 6-speed
Power: 150 bhp
Performance: 0-62 mph 8.5 seconds
Top speed: 125 mph
Economy: 52.3 mpg combined
Price from: £18,340.00
As tested: £25,300.00