It is to the Ateca’s good fortune that the current generation of Leon has always been considered something of a looker since its launch in 2013 – because, rather conspicuously, that car is the design inspiration here.

A ‘big brother’ is the description apparently favoured in Martorell, and that’s largely the way it transpires in the metal, with the crossover sporting a similar quota of sharp lines and high shoulder creases.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
If you fit the ‘50-plus, wealthy homesteader’ mould to which Seat expects to sell the Ateca, consider the 1.0 TSI. Only 6g/km more than the 1.6 TDI for the same power and a lower price

There is a sibling relationship with the Volkswagen Tiguan, too, that car being the first SUV outing for the omnipresent MQB platform underneath both it and the Ateca, but this association is kept firmly under wraps.

For one, the Ateca is noticeably shorter than the larger-scale Volkswagen, and for another, it’s decidedly more sporty-looking.

This, of course, is no accident. Being a tiny bit sportier is Seat’s long-standing raison d’etre, and the firm says the identity extends to the slightly different way its crossover has been tuned.

We’ll come to that later, but in hardware terms the Ateca adopts the established MQB characteristics.

There is a choice of two petrol engines (the three-cylinder 1.0-litre and four-cylinder 1.4-litre TSIs) and two diesel lumps (the 1.6 TDI tested and the 2.0 TDI, available in both 148bhp and 187bhp configurations). Most drive the front wheels exclusively, although both the larger oil-burners come with the option of a Haldex clutch-based four-wheel drive system, with those models also benefiting from the more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension already tested in the Tiguan.

Without a driven rear axle, all other Atecas make do with a cheaper torsion beam at the back.

Trimming niceties from the bottom line does at least tend to help with a car’s kerb weight. The lightest Tiguan clocks in at 1490kg; Seat claims 1280kg for the three-pot model. Our test car, fully fuelled, recorded 1408kg on our scales – almost exactly the same as the Qashqai 1.5 dCi we tested. 

All versions currently come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, save the 2.0-litre diesel, which gets a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic, either as an option or standard if you opt for the higher-output version.

And except for the entry-level model, all Atecas receive Seat’s Drive Profile dial, which (as the suspension is passive) is generally limited to tweaking the throttle and electric steering feel – although in the all-wheel-drive versions it adds Snow and Off-road modes.

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