2016 Seat Ateca 2.0 TDI 150 review
We drive the Seat Ateca – the Spanish brand’s first ever SUV and a new rival for the formidable Nissan Qashqai...
For a brand that’s supposed to be young and trendy, Seat has always been conspicuously absent from the SUV party. But that’s about to change big-time over the next couple of years as the Spanish brand adds several high-riding offerings to its line-up.
The first of these is the Seat Ateca. It goes on sale in September with the big-selling Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage squarely in its sights, and there’s a wide range of engines to choose, starting with a 114bhp 1.0-litre petrol and topping out with a 188bhp 2.0-litre diesel.
Depending on which engine you choose, there’s also a choice of front- and four-wheel drive and manual and automatic gearboxes, so although the Ateca starts at very reasonable £17,990, the range-topping version costs almost £30,000.
What is the 2016 Seat Ateca like to drive?
The Ateca shares most of its oily bits with the latest VW Tiguan, so it’s hardly surprising the two cars are fairly similar to drive. That’s a good thing, though, because it means the Seat has light but positive controls, particularly its gearshift and clutch pedal.
Seat has opted for slightly stiffer suspension than Volkswagen, and that gives the Ateca an advantage through corners. It sways about less than the Tiguan (and the Qashqai, for the matter) and even feels composed during quick direction changes – by SUV standards at least. Meanwhile, the steering is precise and tells you enough about what the front wheels are up to, although don’t expect hot hatch levels of feedback.
That fairly firm suspension does make the ride a bit bumpy – even on our super-smooth Spanish test route. Smaller lumps aren’t dealt with quite as well as they are in a Tiguan or a Qashqai, for example, although we don’t expect the Ateca to be uncomfortably firm on the UK’s more battered roads.
We drove the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel, the engine Seat reckons will be the most popular choice with private buyers. It’s certainly strong enough, delivering the sort of acceleration that no diesel-powered Qashqai can muster. It’s a little gruff when you really put your foot down, but hushed when you’re just mooching about normally.
What is the 2016 Seat Ateca like inside?
The Ateca is more Seat Leon than VW Tiguan inside, but on the whole that’s not such a bad thing. All the important dashboard controls are grouped logically around the driver and there’s loads of space in the front. Indeed, occupants of all shapes and sizes should be able to get comfortable thanks to the supportive and widely adjustable front seats.
Interior quality is far from a disaster, although the Ateca isn’t as classy inside as a Tiguan – it’s roughly on a par with the Qashqai. There are a few hard plastics dotted around the dashboard and, on the cheaper trim levels, the heater controls are surrounded by some unappealing matt grey plastic. However, the dashboard is nice and soft and most of the buttons and switches on it have a smooth action.
In the back, there’s space for three adults as long as they’re prepared to cozy up, but two people can spread out thanks to the generous head and leg room on offer. It’s a shame the Ateca does without the sliding and reclining rear seats that feature on the new Tiguan, though.
The boot isn’t quite as big as the VW’s either, although you’ll squeeze more in the Ateca than you would a Qashqai – and most other rivals for that matter. The load bay is usefully square in shape and there are convenient levers to drop the 60:40 split rear seat backs. When they’re down there is a sizable step in the boot floor, although £115 gets you a height-adjustable boot floor that irons this out.
All versions have alloy wheels, air-conditioning and a touchscreen, although the latter grows in size and becomes colour if you upgrade to mid-spec SE trim. Doing so also brings cruise control, rear parking sensors and more sophisticated automatic air-conditioning without pushing the price too high, so it's the pick of the trims.
Should I buy one?
We reckon the Seat Ateca is an even better buy than the VW Tiguan. Sure, the Tiguan is slightly smarter inside, a bit more comfortable and has cleverer rear seats, but those things aren’t enough to justify its hefty price premium – especially when the Ateca is a bit more fun to drive.
The case against the Nissan Qashqai is rather more complex. If you’re a company car driver it’s hard to look past the Nissan’s much lower CO2 emissions, and it’ll be interesting to see if Seat can compete on monthly PCP finance costs. However, given how closely the two cars are priced, it’s easy to see why you might favour the Ateca’s stronger performance, tidier handling and more spacious interior if you’re buying privately.
What Car? says...
Rated 4 out of 5
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Seat Ateca 2.0 TDI 150
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £22,930
Torque 273lb ft
Top speed 126mph
Fuel economy (official combined) 64.2mpg
CO2/BIK band 114g/km/22%