Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110 Acenta
List price £21,960
Target Price £20,208
The 2.0 dCi Qashqai recently lost out to the new Ateca. Can this 1.5 diesel version fight back?
Seat Ateca 1.6 TDI 115 Ecomotive SE
List price £21,900
Target Price £21,190
We already know the Ateca is a class act, and this version could be an ideal company car.
Vauxhall Mokka X 1.6 CDTi 136 Ecoflex Design Nav
List price £19,865
Target Price £18,910
New styling, low emissions and a new infotainment system help to bolster the new Mokka X’s appeal.
The SUV craze is showing no sign of abating. The newest addition to the class, the Seat Ateca, is competitively priced and roomy – which is partly why it trumped our previous class king, the Nissan Qashqai, in a recent group test.
However, that was the range-topping 2.0-litre diesel Ateca, whereas here we’re finding out how Seat’s new SUV stacks up in cheaper 1.6-litre diesel form. With a combination of low CO2 emissions and decent fuel economy, it could be the pick for company car buyers. However, can the Qashqai, with its smaller – and traditionally our favoured – 1.5-litre diesel engine, claim back its mantle?
For even less cash you could buy the new Vauxhall Mokka X. Broadly speaking it’s a facelifted version of the Mokka with refreshed styling and a new infotainment system. Can it cause an upset?
What are they like to drive?
Despite being the cheapest car here, the Mokka X actually has the punchiest engine. That’s true no matter whether you rev it hard and shift up through the gears, or accelerate from low revs in one of the higher gears. Annoyingly, though, the Mokka X doesn’t deliver its power particularly smoothly, with a sudden surge of acceleration arriving at 2000rpm.
It’s a closer contest between the Ateca and Qashqai, although the Qashqai is clearly the relative slowcoach of the trio. Away from the lights, or when putting your foot down to keep up with traffic, it always takes longer to whisk you up to speed than its Spanish rival. Mind you, neither car is unbearably slow, and both build speed more smoothly and progressively than the Mokka X.
The Mokka X’s clutch is snatchy and there’s very little feel through the brake pedal, which means you have to really concentrate to keep things smooth in stop-start traffic. The Mokka X also has by far most clattery engine, both at tickover and when cruising. You also hear plenty from the Ateca’s diesel engine, but you feel less vibration, while the Qashqai’s is comparatively smooth, and it’s very quiet on the motorway.
The Ateca counters with the least wind and road noise at 70mph – both are slightly more prevalent in the Qashqai, while the Mokka X is again by far the most raucous.
Unless the road is dead flat, the Mokka X jostles you around constantly and thuds over larger intrusions – no matter what speed you’re doing. The Ateca has fairly firm suspension, so you feel bumps as they pass beneath the car, but vastly better damping makes the ride far more comfortable and settled. For the smoothest ride of all choose the Qashqai; it isolates you brilliantly from lumps and bumps.
SUVs aren’t normally fun to drive, but the Ateca really comes alive on winding country roads. It feels poised and grippy, and corners more like a hatchback. The precise steering complements this.
In normal driving, the Qashqai is stable and pleasant, but push harder and it’s less impressive. Its body sways about quite a bit through bends and its steering doesn’t relay what the front wheels are up to quite as brilliantly as the Ateca’s. By contrast, the Mokka X is hugely disappointing. Its vague, oddly weighted steering instils little confidence and means you really need to concentrate through corners; you simply can’t tackle them with the same verve.
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