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Used test: Nissan Qashqai vs Seat Ateca
The Nissan Qashqai is Britain's best-selling family SUV, so there are plenty of great used ones to choose from, but is the Seat Ateca an even better secondhand buy?...
Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110 N-Connecta
List price when new £25,555
Price today £13,000*
Available from 2013-2021
Does our overall Car of the Year from 2014 still make a great used buy?
Seat Ateca 1.6 TDI 115 SE Technology
List price when new £24,330
Price today £14,000*
Available from 2016-present
The Ateca promises a sportier take on the family SUV formula
*Price today is based on a 2017 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
If you're in the market for a used family SUV, your choices are far from limited. You could, for example, seek out the incredibly popular Nissan Qashqai, one of the pioneers in this class. It's been through three generations now and has remained compellingly affordable, decently practical and fuel-efficient throughout, allowing it to rank consistently as one of Britain's best-selling cars.
The Qashqai is a tempting used buy, too, especially in this second-generation form. However, before you go out and get one, it's worth considering this as well: the Seat Ateca, our overall 2021 Used Car of the Year. The Ateca is good to drive, spacious and sensible, making it one of the toughest rivals we could put the Qashqai up against.
So, we've brought the two together for a good old-fashioned used twin test. Both are five-year-old diesel cars with average mileage and starting prices of less than £15,000. That said, only one can be crowned the victor, so read on to find out which should be your next family SUV.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
We’ve selected the most frugal diesel versions of both cars. But while they have similar power outputs, the Ateca’s 1.6-litre engine gets you from 0-60mph nearly a second quicker than the Qashqai’s 1.5-litre motor.
The Ateca also pulls harder from low revs, so you don’t have to change gear as often, and that makes it a more relaxing car to drive – especially when you’re carrying several passengers.
To make matters worse, the Qashqai driver has to make do with a gearshift that's a bit ponderous, whereas the Ateca offers a short, precise action.
True, the Ateca's engine is the noisier of the two under acceleration, having a grittier edge. However, you feel more vibrations through the Qashqai’s pedals, and it’s the Ateca that’s the quieter motorway cruiser, primarily because it’s better at shutting out wind noise.
The Qashqai has softer suspension, so it soaks up most lumps and bumps better than the Ateca at any speed. The Ateca is by no means uncomfortable, though, and its better body control means it recovers composure quicker after dips and crests. In both cases, we would recommend finding examples with standard 18in wheels, because bigger alloys reduce comfort.
The upside of the Ateca’s firmer set-up is taut handling; its body leans less than the Qashqai’s through corners. This is combined with steering that’s quicker to respond and more precise. The Ateca isn’t quite as good as a well set-up family hatchback, but you’ll be surprised at how much fun you can have in it on a twisty road.
The Qashqai feels soggy in comparison, pitching and swaying about, although it needed less distance to come to a stop from both 30mph and 70mph in our tests.
Both models are available with front-wheel drive only; if you want the added traction of four-wheel drive, you’ll need to upgrade to a more powerful diesel engine.
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