Thursday 18 April 2024

REVIEW – Seat Ateca 4Drive Xcellence

What you are looking at here is a little bit of history. This is the first SUV Seat has ever made. Called the Ateca, it is based on the same platform as the VW Tiguan. There are a wide range of engines; from a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol, up to a 2.0-litre diesel. I managed to get hold of a range-topping Xcellence for a week. It had a big diesel and 4WD, so it all looked promising. Sometimes a manufacturer’s first attempt at a certain car can leave a little to be desired, so it was with a little hesitation that I hit the road in the Ateca. Time to see what’s what.

Looks – 10/10

This may well be Seat’s first SUV, but you wouldn’t know by looking at it: this is an incredibly handsome car. The styling is big and bold. The lines are razor-sharp. At the front you can’t help but notice the angular LED headlights with solid daytime running lights. The grille is a large, diamond design, and the black plastic to the lower edges of the car hint to its off-road ability. At the side the optional 19-inch two-tone alloy wheels look the business, and there’s a delightful line running all the way from front to back. Privacy glass is framed by a chrome window surround. At the back there is a twin exhaust and some stylish LED tail lights.

The interior of the Ateca will look familiar to anyone who has been in a Leon, and that’s no bad thing. The angular design continues, from the steering wheel to the dashboard. The seats are stylish, sculpted and finished in a plush leather. The dials are reasonably simple, but are bright and clear. The 8-inch touchscreen media system sits front and centre in the dashboard, and on the whole the centre console looks well laid out and uncluttered. The controls feel solid, and despite the interior being all dark materials, there are no offensive plastics. To help break up the interior there is mood lighting to the front door cards, the colour and brightness of which can be changed. The front footwells are also lit. There is just an air of quality in the Seat that starts outside and continues within. It’s a wonderful place to be.

Handling Performance – 10/10

My test car came with the biggest, most powerful engine available. It’s a 2.0-litre diesel unit which produces 190PS and 400Nm of torque. What’s more, it was married to a delightful 7-speed DSG gearbox. With 4Drive capability the Ateca can get its power down whatever the weather. And it’s rather sprightly too; 0-62mph takes just 7.5 seconds and the top speed is 132mph. Power delivery is smooth and constant, with the DSG keeping revs in the torque sweet spot. And the gearbox is an absolute gem; you barely notice the changes. Put the car in ‘Eco’ drive mode and the gearbox resists down-changing. Select ‘Sport’ and it keeps the revs that bit higher to deliver an instant burst of acceleration when needed. Get on the motorway and that tall 7th gear makes cruising effortless; 70mph is well under 2,000rpm.

Despite being tall, the Ateca handles well. Part of this is down to the Seat’s leanness. Completely empty of people, it weighs about 1,500kg which is pretty lightweight for a sizeable SUV with a big diesel lump and heavy 4WD system. Steering is nicely weighted, and with 4WD grip you can point the Ateca exactly where you want it. I was most surprised at how little the Seat leans in the bends; cornering flat and maintaining composure at all times. More impressively, the Ateca rides well even with the optional 19-inch alloy wheels. You do feel bumps, but the Ateca is comfortable, thanks in part to the sumptuous leather seats. Thanks to the 4Drive system the Seat is capable; come rain or snow.

Economy – 10/10

The 2.0-litre diesel engine features start/stop technology which works well with the DSG gearbox. As your foot starts to come off the brake the engine kicks in, such that there is no noticeable delay. The result is that despite being a big, powerful SUV with a 4WD system, CO2 emissions are a reasonable 135g/km. That puts the Ateca in VED band E, meaning road tax will be £130 in the first and subsequent years. Not too bad for a premium crossover. Thanks to the 7-speed gearbox revs are kept to a minimum on the motorway, and on a combined cycle the fuel consumption of 53.3mpg is respectable.

Practicality – 10/10

It probably isn’t a great surprise to learn that the Ateca is a very practical car indeed. The cabin is spacious; easily capable of seating five adults. The 485-litre boot is plenty for shopping, luggage or the family dog. And the 4Drive system means that the Ateca keeps going through mud, snow and heavy rain. And then we come to the technology; the Xcellence is full of it. The Xcellence Pack (£1,210) comprises 360 park assist, top-view camera and electric tailgate with virtual pedal. Simply wave your foot under the rear bumper and the boot opens; perfect for when your hands are full. The Advanced Comfort and Driving Pack Plus (£805) contains everything you need for an easy life; from auto lights and wipers, to blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and lane assist. Lastly my test car came with the towbar pre-installation (£670) which retracts out of view when not in use. The Ateca is a brilliant tow vehicle thanks to ample torque, brilliant driver assistance systems and a smooth gearbox.

Fun – 10/10

It’s important that your car makes you feel good. It must lift your spirits after a bad day, and provide a rewarding drive when you’re in the mood. The Ateca is the perfect example of this. Day-to-day it will coast along, taking the kids here, carting the shopping there. And then when you’ve done all that it drives well enough that the keen driver can have a blast. When it snows, your day will not be interrupted. Parked in Booth’s car park, it won’t look out of place. And best of all the Xcellence is full of technology to make sure every drive is great. From heated seats for those cold winter mornings, to the Seat sound system for blasting out those summer anthems, the Ateca is the star of the show. It may be a family-friendly SUV, but it never fails to put a smile on your face.

Concluding Remarks

After spending a week with the Ateca, I have absolutely no complaints. The styling is bold, rugged and angular. The interior is plush. The 190PS diesel engine with 7-speed DSG gearbox is an absolute pleasure, and with 4WD the Ateca will keep going even in tough conditions. The 190PS DSG 4WD Xcellence model starts at £29,990 and that’s remarkable value. To put that into context, it’s the same as a mid-range 150PS 2WD Tiguan. No contest. Even with most of the options boxes ticked the Ateca I tested cost £35,145. And what a car it was; I seriously want one. For more information head over to the Seat website or visit a local dealer. The Ateca is breathtaking; a stand-out car. It may be based on the Tiguan, but for me it outshines it. What are you waiting for?

Total Score – 50/50

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer

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