Used test: Nissan Qashqai vs Seat Ateca
The Nissan Qashqai is a former What Car? Car of the Year, but is the sportier Seat Ateca a better used family SUV buy?...
Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110 N-Connecta
- List price when new £25,555
- Price today £13,750*
- Available from 2013-present
Does our overall Car of the Year from 2014 still make a great buy?
Seat Ateca 1.6 TDI 115 SE Technology
- List price when new £24,330
- Price today £15,000*
- Available from 2016-present
The Seat Ateca is a great SUV, thanks to its sporty handling, excellent engines and equipment levels.
*Price today is based on a 2017 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
Make sure you’re sitting comfortably, because we’re going to tell you a story. Once upon a time in a world not too dissimilar to ours, people with families drove forgettable hatchbacks and estate cars. Then, to get away from this tedium, they started to buy big 4x4s.
The problem was that those 4x4s were greedy, gobbling up fuel and costing their owners lots of money. But then a knight in shining armour called Nissan Qashqai came along to give people a high driving position and tough looks yet the running costs of a small hatchback. And everyone lived happily ever after. Well, almost.
The problem now is that the Qashqai has been around since 2013, and newer contenders have begun to strike a few blows at its once immaculate armour. So, we’re entering it into a duel with our current favourite small SUV, the Seat Ateca, to find out who is the rightful king.
What are they like to drive?
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 faster 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 still 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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