2018 Seat Ateca 1.5 TSI Evo FR review - price, specs and release date

The Volkswagen Group's new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine finally makes its way into the Seat Ateca. Is it a worthy replacement for the fantastic 1.4 TSI?...

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Neil Winn
8 Nov 2018 12:55 | Last updated: 8 Nov 2018 17:55

Seat Ateca FR Cornering

Priced from £21,880 | On sale Now

If you open a Seat Ateca brochure today, you’re in for a small surprise. That’s because our favourite engine in the range, the peerless 1.4-litre TSI petrol that helped the Ateca win our Small SUV of the Year award back in 2017, is no longer available, replaced by a new 1.5-litre unit (named the 1.5 TSI Evo) that is – wait for it – less economical, more polluting and no more powerful than the smaller 1.4 TSI.

But, of course, as we’ve learned to accept with the recent spate of new emissions figures, things are not always as they seem. That’s because this new 1.5-litre engine has been certified under with a new scheme called the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). It was introduced earlier this year to provide consumers with more realistic information on the fuel economy and efficiency of cars and vans.

Now, the ins and outs of WLTP aren't particularly important, but what you need to know is that cars tested under the procedure appear to be, on average, around 22% less efficient than they were when tested on the old New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). So, once you apply the 22% inflation to the 1.5 TSI's emissions figure, it turns out that it's actually far cleaner than the old 1.4 TSI.

So, with that confusion over, it’s now time to see if the 1.5 TSI performs just as well as the 1.4 TSI in the real world.

Seat Ateca Rear Cornering

2018 Seat Ateca 1.5 TSI Evo FR on the road 

We loved the old 1.4 TSI for its low-down grunt, its willingness to be revved and just how quiet and smooth it was, no matter how hard you worked it. Thankfully, the 1.5 TSI exhibits all of those characteristics, save for its low-end flexibility. Seat claims that the 1.5 TSI produces the same torque over the same band of revs, but the new engine doesn’t seem to have the same level of get-up-and-go about it when you put your foot down for an overtake.

That said, it’s never frustrating, and you can still rev it all the way to the redline without it ever sounding strained. Plus, next to no vibration is transmitted through the car’s steering wheel or pedals, while Seat’s slick six-speed manual gearbox is just as lovely to use as before. 

Small SUVs are never going to handle as well as a properly set-up hatchback, but the Ateca remains the best of its type. In sporty FR trim, its suspension is firm enough to ensure there isn't too much body lean when the car is cornering, while the steering is precise and provides decent feedback, allowing you to place the Ateca's nose exactly where you want it.

However, the downside to stiff suspension is a relatively firm ride. Over smaller undulations, the FR can be a little fidgety, while sharp-edged ridges and potholes can send a good thump through its interior. That said, because the body stays well controlled over larger disturbances, such as sleeping policemen, the Ateca doesn’t continue to bounce and jostle you about once the bump has been and gone. So, overall, we feel the FR strikes a reasonable balance between handling and ride.

Seat Ateca FR Interior

2018 Seat Ateca 1.5 TSI Evo FR interior

The seats in the standard Ateca are perfectly acceptable, but the ‘sports’ seats in the FR are even better, because they have chunkier bolsters, making them more supportive around your sides.

The FR also gets a flat-bottomed steering wheel and some red stitching around its gearlever, but it's otherwise the same as any other Ateca inside. That means there’s lots of space in the front and back, plus a boot that's larger than the Nissan Qashqai’s but smaller than the Skoda Karoq's.

You also get an excellent 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring included as standard. There’s built-in sat-nav, too, meaning you don’t have to rely on your phone having a data connection to get you where you’re going.

Should you want a bit more detail, have a look at our in-depth 16-point Ateca review.

Next: 2018 Seat Ateca 1.5 TSI Evo FR verdict>