Seat Ateca review

Category: Small SUV

The Ateca is very good to drive while offering SUV practicality and a competitive price

Seat Ateca front right driving
  • Seat Ateca front right driving
  • Seat Ateca rear cornering
  • Seat Ateca interior dashboard
  • Seat Ateca boot open
  • Seat Ateca infotainment touchscreen
  • Seat Ateca right driving
  • Seat Ateca front cornering
  • Seat Ateca rear cornering
  • Seat Ateca front static doors open
  • Seat Ateca right static
  • Seat Ateca front badge
  • Seat Ateca alloy wheel
  • Seat Ateca roof detail
  • Seat Ateca rear detail
  • Seat Ateca front seats
  • Seat Ateca back seats
  • Seat Ateca steering wheel detail
  • Seat Ateca air-con controls
  • Seat Ateca interior detail
  • Seat Ateca front right driving
  • Seat Ateca rear cornering
  • Seat Ateca interior dashboard
  • Seat Ateca boot open
  • Seat Ateca infotainment touchscreen
  • Seat Ateca right driving
  • Seat Ateca front cornering
  • Seat Ateca rear cornering
  • Seat Ateca front static doors open
  • Seat Ateca right static
  • Seat Ateca front badge
  • Seat Ateca alloy wheel
  • Seat Ateca roof detail
  • Seat Ateca rear detail
  • Seat Ateca front seats
  • Seat Ateca back seats
  • Seat Ateca steering wheel detail
  • Seat Ateca air-con controls
  • Seat Ateca interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

You could say the Seat Ateca marked a transitional period in the brand’s range of cars. As the firm’s first ever SUV, it reached out to those wanting something a bit taller than the Leon hatchback.

Despite its move into new territories, the Ateca still maintains plenty of core Seat values. In keeping with tradition, the name is derived from Spanish geography and this small SUV promises to be more fun to drive than its Volkswagen Group cousin, the Skoda Karoq.

The thing is though, the Ateca has been around for a few years now. It’s already been treated to a mid-life update, with mild styling and engine tweaks to keep feeling relatively fresh, but it’s having to face much newer rivals that are doing their best to steal the limelight, including the Hyundai Kona and Lexus LBX. There’s also the Audi Q2 to consider.

So is the Seat Ateca a leading light among the best small SUVs? And which engine and trim level would we recommend if you do buy one? Read on to find out...

Overview

The Seat Ateca is great to drive and its interior is more user-friendly than even some newer rivals. Meanwhile, it’s well equipped, offers plenty of space and competitively priced, meaning you’re looking at a practical SUV capable of putting a smile on your face that won’t cost a fortune. The Skoda Karoq isn't as specialised when it comes to handling agility but it is a slightly better all-round package in terms of comfort and versatility. Our pick of the Ateca range is the 1.5 TSI 150 in SE trim.

  • Spacious interior
  • Surprisingly fun to drive
  • Keen pricing and well equipped
  • Firm ride – especially with bigger alloys
  • Some rivals offer hybrid options
  • No clever rear seating tricks
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Our Pick

OurPicksRRP £30,325
Seat Ateca 1.5 TSI EVO SE 5dr review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

We’ve yet to try the Seat Ateca's entry-level 114bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine – badged 1.0 TSI 115 – but it should be fine if you tend to cover journeys around town. Its 0-62mph of 11.0 seconds is fairly leisurely. 

Our recommended engine is a 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol with mild-hybrid tech, called the 1.5 Eco TSI 150. It builds power smoothly and progressively, allowing you to make swift progress over most journeys, with a 0-62mph time of 9.0 seconds.

The TSI 150 is available with a smooth-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox rather than a six-speed manual gearbox. The only disadvantage is that it can be hesitant when setting off from stationary, which can prove frustrating when aiming for a gap in traffic.

If you want even more power or four-wheel drive, there’s the performance-focused 300bhp Cupra Ateca, which we've review separately. It’s significantly more expensive, though.

Unlike earlier versions of the Ateca, a diesel engine is not an option, so you’ll have to look at a Skoda Karoq or VW Tiguan for that. If you want a regular hybrid there's the Lexus LBX or Toyota Yaris Cross to consider.

Suspension and ride comfort

Small SUVs have a tough brief: despite their raised stance, they're expected to corner without leaning too much while still offering decent ride comfort. Fortunately, the Ateca strikes a reasonable balance.

True, it's firmer than a Skoda Karoq and that means it can feel slightly harsher, mainly at lower speeds, over sharp-edged ridges and potholes. However, because its body stays well controlled over larger disturbances, such as speed bumps, the Ateca doesn’t continue to bounce and jostle you about long after the bump has been and gone.

Seat Ateca image
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As is often the case, you’ll find that smaller wheels deliver the best ride. If that's important to you, avoid the larger 19in wheels fitted to the FR Sport and Xperience Lux trims.

Seat Ateca rear cornering

Handling

Tall SUVs don't handle as well as low-to-the-ground hatchbacks, so the Ateca is never going to be quite the handling champion that the Seat Leon is. Even so, the Ateca does prove surprisingly good fun to drive down your favourite stretch of road.

A Ford Puma is more agile and will draw a wider smile on your face, but the Ateca is sharper to drive than a Yaris Cross and easily pips its mechanically similar but softer rival the Karoq. 

The suspension is firm enough to ensure that you don’t get too much body lean when cornering, helping the Ateca's agility. Meanwhile, there's plenty of grip and the relatively sharp steering is precise and well-weighted (it's much more involving than the Yaris Cross’s steering), making it easy to place the nose just where you want it.

Put simply, if you like driving and want to buy an SUV in this price bracket, the Ateca should be high up your list.

Noise and vibration

The Ateca's engines are generally refined. The 1.5 Eco TSI 150 is smooth and quiet on a cruise but becomes a bit vocal under hard acceleration. 

Gearbox options are a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic. The manual is a delight to use with a smooth action, while the automatic slips easily through its gears. Just be aware that it can be a little jerky at parking speeds. Road and wind noise are fairly well contained and it’s more hushed on motorways than a Puma.  

Driving overview

Strengths Composed handling; sharper to drive than most rivals

Weaknesses Not as smooth riding as a Skoda Karoq; slightly jerky automatic gearbox

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

In addition to being great to drive, the Seat Ateca has a good driver environment. All Atecas come with driver's seat height and lumbar adjustment as standard. The FR Sport trim also has an electric driver’s seat included. The pedals, seat and steering wheel are well aligned, helping to keep you comfortable on longer trips. 

In keeping with the sporty theme, the seats have more side support than those in many rivals – particularly the sports seats in FR Sport and Xperience Lux models. As a result, you don’t find yourself hanging on to the steering wheel to avoid sliding around during quick cornering.

FR Sport and Xperience Lux also come with a 10.3in customisable digital driver's display in place of analogue instruments, putting the most useful information – including a sat-nav map – directly in front of you.

We also like the use of physical buttons for all the major dashboard features, which makes life easy when you're changing any settings on the move and less fiddly than the touch-sensitive pads in a VW T-Roc.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

Thanks to its relatively high-set driver's seat, the Ateca gives you a great view down the road and its windscreen pillars aren’t so wide that pulling out of junctions becomes an act of faith. However, we wish over-the-shoulder visibility was a little better – the Skoda Karoq’s larger rear-quarter windows make it less compromised in this respect.

Fortunately, all models come with front and rear sensors to help with parking, as well as a Park Assist function that steers the vehicle into a space for you. Xperience models come with a rear-view camera, while range-topping Xperience Lux has a bird’s eye view camera, which makes it easier to see how close you are to obstacles and kerbs. It's a shame that's not available as an option on the cheaper trims.

Full LED headlights and tail lights are standard-fit, as are LED front fog lamps. FR models and above have rear indicators that scroll in the direction you’re turning.

Seat Ateca interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

Entry-level SE trim has an 8.3in infotainment touchscreen as well as two USB-C ports front and rear, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, and steering wheel controls.

SE Technology trim has a bigger, 9.2in touchscreen and includes sat-nav, online traffic information, voice control and wireless smartphone mirroring. Seat’s system is snazzy to look at, but like so many touchscreen-based systems, it includes small icons that can be hard to use while you're driving. At least there are touch-sensitive shortcuts on the side of the screen to help.

All trim levels have the same eight-speaker sound system, which is decent enough but there's no option to upgrade it if you fancy something punchier and more immersive.

Quality

The Ateca's interior quality is better than many small SUV rivals' but it's not the best. There are scratchy plastics on all the lower surfaces and some of the other trims – like the spray-painted matt grey highlights, for example – look a tad cheap. On the plus side, there are squidgy plastics on the top of its dashboard and doors to help it feel more upmarket than a Ford Puma’s.

Most of the buttons and switches are borrowed from the previous-generation Seat Leon and feel suitably solid. The rival Skoda Karoq – despite being a very similar car underneath – looks and feels plusher overall, but if you want a really classy interior, you'll need to look at the Audi Q2 or Lexus LBX instead.

Interior overview

Strengths Loads of seating adjustment; good visibility; user-friendly control layout

Weaknesses Not quite as plush as upmarket rivals

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

It’s unlikely that anyone will get into the Seat Ateca and find there isn't enough room in the front. It’s possible to slide the seat back a good amount to accommodate longer legs, and if you're long in the body, you can drop the driver’s seat low enough to provide good head room.

As for width, you certainly won’t be clashing elbows with your passenger. It’s a nice touch that all models come with a height-adjustable armrest. Storage is also good: there's a cubby under the front armrest, two large door pockets and a big glovebox.

Rear space

The Ateca’s rear doors are a good size and open wide enough to make access easy. There’s plenty of leg room once you’re inside – even tall adults won’t find their knees pressed up against the seat in front – and no shortage of head room, either. There’s more space than inside a Ford Puma or Toyota Yaris Cross.

There is a high central floor tunnel for the middle passenger to straddle but even so, the Ateca is better at squeezing three in the back than many of its rivals, including the Yaris Cross.

Seat Ateca boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

The Ateca doesn't have the VW T-Cross’s clever sliding rear seats – a feature that's also standard in some versions of the Skoda Karoq. In fact, the Karoq's VarioFlex rear seats can even be removed completely to create a van-like load bay.

In the Ateca you also have to make do with 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, instead of the more flexible 40/20/40 arrangement a Yaris Cross offers. However, you'll find handy release levers just inside the tailgate opening that make it easy to drop the rear seats while you're loading. There's also a ski hatch for longer, thinner loads.

Boot space

This is another area where the Ateca pips most rivals. Its 510-litre boot is huge compared with a T-Roc and Yaris Cross. The load area is a useful square shape with a wide aperture for loading broad items and it fits up to eight carry-on cases below the load cover. That beats the seven cases we squeezed into a T-Roc and Yaris Cross, although the Karoq's boot fits nine cases.

The rear seats lie at a slight angle when folded, but it’s not acute enough to be a nuisance when you’re loading longer items inside. However, it's a pity that the Ateca is not available with a height-adjustable boot floor, which is a useful facility the T-Roc has. Only top-spec Xperience Lux trim comes with a powered tailgate as standard.

Practicality overview

Strengths Generous passenger space; lots of handy storage cubbies; huge boot

Weaknesses rear seats could be more versatile; no height-adjustable boot floor

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The Seat Ateca is closely priced against the Audi Q2 and VW T-Roc. The closely related Skoda Karoq commands a slightly higher entry-level price, if not by a huge amount, while the Lexus LBX will cost even more. 

If you’re looking at leasing or buying on PCP finance, the Ateca is usually a bit more expensive than the rival Karoq, but not by much. The Ateca should hold its value relatively well too. You can check the latest pricing using our New Car Deals pages.

The Ateca is reasonable for benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax, but it's worth bearing in mind there are more affordable company car options. Official CO2 emissions are comparatively high next to hybrid car options such as the LBX or Toyota Yaris Cross but it’s otherwise on a par with the T-Roc and Q2.

Equipment, options and extras

Entry-level SE trim is great value for money because it's very well equipped for the price – so much so that it's our pick. It has cruise control, keyless entry, power-folding door mirrors, metallic paint and dual-zone climate control.

SE Technology adds a few more features, including 18in alloys and a larger infotainment screen.

FR trim offers you a sportier look, both inside and out. It's not a silly price and adds privacy glass, body-coloured wheel arches, suede seat trim and ambient lighting. FR Sport adds larger 19in wheels, leather upholstery and heated front seats.

Xperience comes with privacy glass, ambient lighting, suede seat trim, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beam for the headlights. Xperience Lux adds larger 19in alloy wheels, leather upholstery and a powered tailgate.

Seat Ateca infotainment touchscreen

Reliability

Middle of the road is the best way to describe the Ateca's performance in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey – it came 17th out of 34 family SUVs ranked (we've since reclassified it as a small SUV). As a brand, Seat finished in 18th place out of 32 manufacturers.

A three-year warranty, limited to 60,000 miles, comes as standard with every Seat. That’s typical of most car makers but not as good as Hyundai’s five years of cover or Kia’s seven-year deal. Even Seat’s sister brand, Cupra now offers a five-year, 90,000-mile warranty.

Safety and security

All Atecas come with automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assist, traffic-sign recognition, a driver attention monitor and e-Call emergency response. However, blind-spot monitoring is available only on top-spec Xperience Lux, which is pretty pricey.

The Ateca was awarded five stars by Euro NCAP for safety, but it’s worth noting that the rating has expired since it was tested back in 2016. We can tell you that its adult occupant crash protection was found to be almost identical to that of the Skoda Karoq's, while child protection was shown to be slightly better.

As for security, an alarm and engine immobiliser come as standard on all versions.

Costs overview

Strengths Offers a bit more space for the money; holds its value well;  wide range of trim levels

Weaknesses No hybrid or electric options to bring down company car tax bills; no individual options to add


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FAQs

  • The Ateca is not available as an electric car but you can get it with mild hybrid assistance, which offers slight efficiency gains. If you're thinking of going electric, see our best electric SUVs page. You could also consider two hybrid rivals, the Lexus LBX and Toyota Yaris Cross.

  • We recommend sticking with the entry-level SE trim level because it’s well equipped and offers great value for money. The 1.5 Eco TSI 150 petrol is our pick of the engine options.

  • The FR is designed to look sportier than the SE inside and out, and includes privacy glass, body-coloured wheel arches and more.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £4,156
Target Price from £24,577
Save up to £4,156
or from £261pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £18,999
RRP price range £28,400 - £37,145
Number of trims (see all)6
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 42.2 - 47.1
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,741 / £2,476
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £3,481 / £4,952
Available colours