The entry-level 1.0 petrol is fine if you spend most of your time in town, but we would advise buying a more muscular engine if you plan on regular motorway work or carrying heavy loads. The 1.6 TDI is more flexible, but of the diesels it’s the 2.0 TDI that offers the best blend of power and economy.
Although the 2.0-litre diesel is available with four-wheel drive, we would only recommend it if you really need the additional traction; it’s more expensive and you pay an economy and emissions penalty for the all-weather ability it brings. With that in mind, we’d stick to the 148bhp variant rather than the pricier, and exclusively four-wheel drive, 187bhp variant.
The 1.4-litre petrol won’t match the diesels’ average fuel economy, but if you're not doing vast annual mileages don’t let that put you off. It’s cheaper to buy than the diesels, still returns decent economy, and with solid mid-range shove and a willingness to rev, it’s both relaxing in day-to-day use and quick when required.
Seat Ateca ride comfort
Small SUVs have a tough time of things – they are expected to corner without leaning too much while still offering decent ride comfort. The Ateca strikes a decent balance.
It is well damped but is firmer than some rivals, including the Qashqai, so it can feel a bit fidgety over smaller undulations. However, because the body stays well controlled over larger disturbances, such as sleeping policemen, it doesn’t continue to bounce and jostle you about once the bump has been and gone. The only time you feel a thud is over sharp-edged ridges and potholes.
As is often the case, you’ll find that smaller-wheeled models ride better than those fitted with large wheels, so try and avoid the optional 19in alloys.
Seat Ateca handling
The Ateca is one of the best handling small SUVs on the market. Let’s not get carried away, it’s no Ford Focus, but it does prove surprisingly good fun to drive down your favourite stretch of road. It’s well ahead of rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai.
The suspension is firm enough to ensure you don’t get too much body lean when cornering, which helps make the Ateca feel agile. The steering is precise and offers decent amounts of feedback, too, which makes it easy to place the nose of the car where you want it.
There’s plenty of grip and four-wheel drive models are even more fun because you can subtly feel power being sent to the rear wheels. Put simply, if you like driving, the Ateca should be top of your list of small SUVs.
Seat Ateca refinement
The Ateca impresses once again with how quiet it is. The 2.0-litre diesel is hushed under normal use, and doesn’t even get noisy above 3000rpm. There’s enough poke that you’re unlikely to venture that high up the rev range too often, anyway, and you feel very little vibration though the controls, even compared with an equivalent Nissan Qashqai or Kia Sportage.
The smaller 1.6-litre diesel is a little boomy when you rev it hard, but not unacceptably so. Besides, any noise mostly fades away at a steady motorway cruise.
For the quietest drive look to the petrols. Even though you have to push the little 1.0-litre hard to make quick progress, it never sounds coarse. The 1.4-litre petrol has plenty of oomph so you don’t have to push it so hard, but even when you do it’s still pleasingly smooth.
Whichever engine you go for, road and wind noise are well contained, despite the Ateca’s upright stance, and the clutch and gearshift feel slick and precise.
This little three-cylinder petrol engine has more than enough power for the urban cut-and-thrust but struggles on the open road when fully loaded.
Our pick 1.4 TSI 150
The most powerful petrol engine, although it shouldn’t cost too much more to run than the 1.0 TSI. In fact, unless you’re doing lots of miles it makes a good alternative to the diesels, being quick, smooth, relatively frugal and cheaper on company car tax than even the 1.6 TDI.
1.6 TDI 115
More flexible than the entry-level petrol, but struggles when loaded up – especially on faster roads. Best economy and emissions but only just.
2.0 TDI 150
Shouldn’t cost much more to run than the 1.6 TDI but is much stronger and by far the best of the diesel engines. Four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox are optional.
2.0 TDI 190
The most powerful engine but also the most expensive. This is thanks in part to standard four-wheel drive and automatic gearbox.