Seat Ateca long-term test review
The Ateca remains one of our favourite family SUVs, even after two years on sale. We're set to find out whether it's still got what it takes to stand out against newer rivals...
- The car Seat Ateca 1.5 TSI Evo 150 Xcellence DSG
- Run by Allan Muir, managing editor
- Why it's here To find out how the Ateca distinguishes itself in a sea of outwardly similar family SUVs
- Needs to Be notably more enjoyable to drive than any of its peers, without sacrificing practicality and comfort
Mileage 1810 List price £28,275 Target Price £25,613 Price as tested £28,385 Options Space-saver spare wheel (£115) Test economy 34.6mpg Official economy 40.4mpg (WLTP)
30 April 2019 – Saying goodbye to the Ateca
Driving pleasure probably isn’t going to be at the top of most buyers’ list of priorities when they’re shopping for a new family SUV. But if a car can be genuinely enjoyable to drive while also delivering on the most important criteria – practicality, comfort, affordable running costs and so on – then why wouldn’t you grab that option with both hands? That was my logic when I chose to run a Seat Ateca – still regarded by us as the best-handling family SUV you can buy – for four months, and it hasn’t disappointed on that front. In fact, the Ateca has exceeded my expectations in many ways.
As promised, the Ateca stood out from its rivals for its sharp handling, feeling relatively light, agile and nicely balanced in corners and happy to be driven with gusto on twisty roads. The 148bhp turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine produced more than enough performance for a car like this, and the optional dual-clutch automatic gearbox provided smooth, quick shifts most of the time, only proving hesitant and a little jerky at very low speeds around town. On balance, I’d still rather have the automatic option, flawed though it may be, than the standard manual ’box in a car like this.
The firmness of the ride was never an issue for me; I found the Ateca more than comfortable enough, especially at higher speeds on the motorway. Initial concerns over tyre noise – specifically, thudding and clattering over bumps and potholes around town – never became a problem, thankfully; in fact, it only stood out if I drove another, quieter car back to back with the Ateca.
As with most family SUVs, the Ateca struck a happy balance between physical size and interior space, in that it was compact enough to be easy to park and thread through traffic, yet plenty roomy enough inside for comfort and practicality. However, there’s no denying that it isn’t quite as versatile as rivals such as the Skoda Karoq and Peugeot 3008, due to the fact that it doesn’t have sliding rear seats or a height-adjustable boot floor. I could get a bike into the boot, just, without having to remove its front wheel, but the high load lip and big step in the boot floor when the rear seatbacks were folded down inevitably turned the task into a bit of a wrestling match.
What I liked most about the interior – apart from its superbly supportive and comfortable front seats – was how well the dashboard and centre console were laid out. As in most VW Group models, almost everything seemed to be ideally placed for ease of use, while the infotainment system, with its 8.0in touchscreen flanked by physical shortcut buttons, was among the best of its breed. The only exception was the heated windscreen switch, which proved harder to access, being hidden away in the infotainment.
I even liked operating the adaptive cruise control (ACC) via a stalk on the steering column (as opposed to switches on the wheel), even though I didn’t think I would; it was a doddle to use without looking. The ACC itself was effective and welcome in heavy motorway traffic, too, although it didn’t take much water or grime on the front radar unit to knock it out of action temporarily.
Just as importantly, very little about the Ateca irritated me – always a good sign of a car that I’d be happy to live with over a longer period. For example, the front and rear parking sensors and rear-view camera did their job perfectly without being intrusive, as did the automatic parking brake.
The only real frustration I felt on an ongoing basis was over the car’s poor traction when pulling away from a standstill. I found it embarrassing and uncomfortable that the not especially powerful Ateca wanted to spin its front wheels so readily, even on dry roads, often accompanied by a resounding thump from beneath the car if I was remotely enthusiastic with my acceleration. Although traction was fine the rest of the time, I’d probably go for a four-wheel-drive version next time around, happily trading some fuel economy (which isn’t great around town but picks up considerably on longer runs) for the ability to transfer power cleanly to the road in all conditions.
But even as it was, the Ateca proved to be my kind of family SUV. Much as I like the Volvo XC40, our 2019 Family SUV of the Year, it’s considerably more expensive than even my high-spec Ateca and not as much fun to drive. For keen drivers, the Ateca remains the obvious choice.
Seat Ateca – test data
Dealer price now £23,700 Private price now £21,100 Trade-in price now £20,050 Contract hire £289 per month Insurance group 18 Typical insurance quote £562 per year
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