Used test: Seat Ateca vs Volkswagen Tiguan

The Seat Ateca is an award-winning used SUV, but can a fully loaded version of it tempt you away from a more premium Volkswagen Tiguan for the same money? We have the answer...

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What Car? team
31 May 2019

Used test: Seat Ateca vs Volkswagen Tiguan

The Contenders

Seat Ateca 2.0 TDI 190 4Drive Xcellence auto

List price when new £30,795

Price today £21,000*

Available from 2016-present

We love the Ateca, but can this range-topper really be a great-value used buy?


Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI 150 4Motion SE Navigation auto

List price when new £31,960

Price today £21,000*

Available from 2016-present

The Tiguan may have less power, but it hits back with a plusher, more practical interior.

*Price today is based on a 2017 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing


Snobbery is a cruel trait of the human condition whereby we compare our lot in life with those of others in order to rank how successful – or not – we are. It isn’t just the career we have, the house we live in or the clothes we wear that we use to define whether we are further up the social ladder than our peers, either; we do it with the cars we drive, too.

Take the Seat Ateca. It’s our reigning used Small SUV of the Year, especially in 1.4-litre petrol form, but here we have the priciest version available: the powerful 2.0 TDI 190 Xcellence, which comes with four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox. On paper, then, it should be the ideal family SUV.

Seat Ateca vs Volkswagen Tiguan

However, you don’t want something that simply makes sense, right?; you want something desirable. And while the Volkswagen Tiguan shares many of the Ateca’s oily bits, it has a classier badge on it.

On the other hand, it isn’t quite as powerful as the Ateca, despite costing considerably more when new, and it isn’t as well equipped.

So, now that both of these cars are more than two years old, which makes the best used purchase?

Seat Ateca vs Volkswagen Tiguan

What are they like to drive?

Both cars’ engines are well insulated. Sure, there’s a little diesel clatter at idle and they’re clearly audible when worked hard, but neither is intrusive in city driving or at a steady cruise. However, the Ateca’s bigger tyres create more road roar and you hear more wind noise, too.

The Tiguan also wins on comfort, dealing better with rough surfaces, especially with our test car’s optional adaptive dampers (that cost the first owner £810) in their softest setting. The Ateca isn’t too uncomfortable, but you always feel more of the road’s surface. Our test car’s optional 19in whee;s didn’t help, causing the car to bob up and down continually along crumbling urban streets, while potholes send a jolt through your backside. We’d recommend sticking with the standard 18in wheels, but even then the Ateca is stiffer than most of its rivals.

Seat Ateca vs Volkswagen Tiguan

Accept the Ateca’s firm ride and – by SUV standards, at least – you’ll be rewarded with remarkably agile, enjoyable handling. Chuck it through a series of bends and you’ll be amazed by how upright it stays and how well it grips the road. The Tiguan still handles very tidily, but it sways about more and its front tyres relinquish their grip earlier.

The Ateca has more naturally weighted steering and also gives you more feedback, making it the easier car to guide along a winding country road. That said, our test Tiguan was fitted with optional Progressive Steering (£195 when new), which applies lock at a faster rate the more you turn the steering wheel. This reduces arm-twirling at low speeds, making it easier to wind your way up multi-storey car parks, but it feels a bit artificial at higher speeds.

Seat Ateca vs Volkswagen Tiguan

What of performance? Well, the Ateca not only has a 39bhp power advantage but is also quite a bit lighter. This helps it to accelerate more briskly, so you can pull off overtakes with greater confidence and get up to speed on motorway slip roads far more easily. With noticeably more vigour at medium revs, it’ll pull you up steep slopes more ably and deal more easily with a full complement of passengers and luggage. The Tiguan is no slowcoach, but its engine always needs working harder.

Both cars are surprisingly capable off road, easily climbing steep, muddy inclines on their standard tyres. Of course, they don’t have Range Rover-like ground clearance, but you’re unlikely to get stuck at any holiday camp site.


Next: What are they like inside? >

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