Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The Seat Ateca's entry-level 108bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine (badged 1.0 TSI 110) delivers fine performance if you spend most of your time in town. Once you’re on the motorway, keeping up with faster traffic requires liberal use of your right foot and plenty of revs – especially with a loaded-up car – and its ultimate pace is 0-62mph in a fairly leisurely 11.4sec.
So it’s the mid-range 148bhp 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine (1.5 TSI EVO 150) that we think makes the most sense for most buyers. This builds power smoothly and progressively, allowing you to make swifter progress over any type of road and 0-62mph takes 9.3sec. It also has more low-end grunt than the equivalent Nissan Qashqai. If you want even more power, the 2.0 TSI 190 petrol, which comes as standard with four-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, can crack 0-62mph in just 7.1sec. It’s very expensive, though. There's also the performance-focused 300bhp Cupra Ateca, which we've reviewed separately.
Suspension and ride comfort
Family 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 some rivals, including the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Karoq. 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 sleeping policemen, the Ateca doesn’t continue to bounce and jostle you about long after the bump has been and gone – something the Qashqai is more prone to doing.
The 2.0 TDI diesels sound a bit gruff at idle and slightly boomy above 3000rpm. There’s enough poke that you’re unlikely to venture that high up the rev range too often, though, and you feel fewer vibrations through the controls than you will in the equivalent Kia Sportage.
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 option slips easily through its gears. Just be aware that it can be a little jerky at parking speeds. Whichever engine you choose, road and wind noise are fairly well contained, but the Qashqai and 3008 tend to be quieter on the motorway.