From £17,9358
Despite having a tiny 1.0-litre engine under the bonnet, the entry-level Seat Ateca is an impressively flexible and frugal SUV

Our Verdict

Seat Ateca

Can Seat’s first SUV impress, even with the heavy burden of expectation?

Neil Winn - Autocar
19 September 2016

What is it?

There’s no doubt about it, downsizing is the future. With increasingly stringent emissions regulations being imposed on manufacturers, small capacity forced induction motors can now be found in everything from compact city cars to mid-engined performance machines. So it comes as no surprise that Seat has gone down this path with its new entry-level Ateca. Or does it?

You see, on paper, putting a 1.0-litre engine in an SUV is rather a risky move. Why, you might ask? Well, it’s all about perception. Sure, a small turbocharged three-cylinder makes sense in a hatchback like a Skoda Octavia or Peugeot 308, but a heavy SUV? Surely it wouldn’t be powerful enough?

That was a question VW had to ask itself when considering the same unit for the Tiguan, and in the end, the more ‘premium’ manufacturer decided against it. However, on reflection, we think that might have been a mistake, because once you’ve managed to get your head around the 1.0 TSI’s tiny dimensions, the little motor makes quite a lot of sense.

With a peak output of 113bhp at 5000rpm the 1.0-litre engine manages to match the output of the more expensive 1.6 TDI. And with the Ateca managing the 0-62mph sprint in 11.0sec, it’s quicker, too. 

What's it like?

Importantly, it doesn’t feel underpowered. Like most turbocharged small-capacity petrol engines, there’s a slight step in its power delivery, but it doesn’t feel too boosty. At low revs, as you wait for the turbo limber up, the engine feels somewhat sluggish, but once the motor gets going – at around 2000rpm - power delivery is smooth and progressive.

Around town the engine is barely audible, making for relaxed day-to-day driving. Push it harder and it will emit a distinctive three-cylinder thrum, but it never causes any unwanted vibration. Compared with the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel we tested earlier in the year, the petrol motor feels in a different league when it comes to overall refinement.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Ateca’s ride. Thanks to its relatively firm suspension, body roll is well contained, turn-in is crisp and the direct - albeit lifeless - steering allows you to place the car where you want. But this comes at the expense of low-speed refinement; large obstructions are dealt with well, but higher-frequency abrasions translate into a busy secondary ride.

It’s worth noting that four-wheel drive models with their more sophisticated rear suspension ride slightly better than their two-wheel drive siblings. However, what you gain in comfort you lose in practicality; front-wheel drive Atecas like our test car get a whopping 510 litres of boot space, whereas cars fitted with all-wheel drive have to make do with a lesser 485 litres. That said, both models are still more capacious than the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage.

Up front, the cabin’s design will be familiar to anyone who’s experienced the current Leon; that’s to say it’s functional rather than adventurous. It doesn’t feel wildly luxurious, but it’s hard to fault the practical layout and its impressive ergonomics. The optional infotainment system, which includes an 8.0in touchscreen with sat-nav and a DAB radio, is also fast, responsive and easy to use.

Should I buy one?

If you’re looking for a practical, economical SUV that will be cheap to buy and run, then you can’t go too far wrong with the 1.0-litre Seat Ateca SE Ecomotive. Even with its smallest, cheapest engine on board, the Ateca remains one of the best small SUVs you can buy. 

Sure, we predict that the diesel models will be more popular, but if you’re buying privately and do most of your driving in town, this entry-level Ateca makes a whole lot of sense.

2016 Seat Ateca 1.0 TSI Ecomotive SE

Location Buckinghamshire; On sale Now; Price £19,590; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, petrol; Power 113bhp; Torque 148lb ft; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1280kg; 0-62mph 11.0sec; Top speed 114mph; Economy 54.3mpg (combined); CO2 rating/BIK tax band 119g/km, 23% Rivals Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage

 

Join the debate

Comments
17

19 September 2016

Not one mention of mpg achieved ,just regurgitated official mpg figures, so obviously could not be bothered to do some maths or is incompetent.I think it would be circa 33 to 35 mpg in the real world ,with such a minuscule engine.

19 September 2016
Ski Kid wrote:

Not one mention of mpg achieved ,just regurgitated official mpg figures, so obviously could not be bothered to do some maths or is incompetent.I think it would be circa 33 to 35 mpg in the real world ,with such a minuscule engine.

Are they even allowed to? Any figures other than standard test figures have been banned for decades - since this is a Seat promotional review, it no doubt has to follow the same rules.

19 September 2016

A genuine motor buff that has keen interest in his job

19 September 2016

I would say that many road tests inc ones on Autocar,and Autoexpress show actual figures being achieved during the test,perhaps they may be testing on longer periods,but I could do apretty accurate test in one day full tank to full tank,using the same pump till it is almost coming out of the filler .The best tests used to be before the EU got involved,based on 30mph,56mph I think and 70 mph .They were accurate at the time .Not like the useless fraudulent ones done under the Eu rules.They warm the car up, tape the panel gaps and doors ,fully charge batterry and do 1 2mph for so many metres and then 30mph for so and so ,it is a complete load of bollocks.You might just as well say you are getting 200mpg and not the 70 odd claimed.especially when the testers sat an Audi is more economical at say 70mpg than a Merc,or JLR at 65mpg.The whole thing is a spurious mockery.Mu VW and Audiachieved 42 to 44mpg if driven not too slowly or fast, they are supposed to get 64 mpg approx.

19 September 2016
Ski Kid wrote:

I would say that many road tests inc ones on Autocar,and Autoexpress show actual figures being achieved during the test,perhaps they may be testing on longer periods,but I could do apretty accurate test in one day full tank to full tank,using the same pump till it is almost coming out of the filler .The best tests used to be before the EU got involved,based on 30mph,56mph I think and 70 mph .They were accurate at the time .Not like the useless fraudulent ones done under the Eu rules.They warm the car up, tape the panel gaps and doors ,fully charge batterry and do 1 2mph for so many metres and then 30mph for so and so ,it is a complete load of bollocks.You might just as well say you are getting 200mpg and not the 70 odd claimed.especially when the testers sat an Audi is more economical at say 70mpg than a Merc,or JLR at 65mpg.The whole thing is a spurious mockery.Mu VW and Audiachieved 42 to 44mpg if driven not too slowly or fast, they are supposed to get 64 mpg approx.

What are you blathering on about.

19 September 2016

And just a general comment about how useless the tests for fuel are and how pathetic it is when someone writes an article about comparisons and stating quite often the VW Audi models are more economical , when in reality it could be way off. I have had three recent products of these brands and includes latest diesels and petrol all 30% to 40% adverse, currently part of a class action taken out against VW /Audi.

19 September 2016

Every time a VW product comes out you go on on about your PERSONNAL experiences (a Golf diesel only getting 42 mpg everywhere) in such a way as to make it sound everyone and every VW car is the same, an under achieving product which they're not.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

19 September 2016

Yep think they are crap in general compared to Merc,Bmw and JLR, they sell on image ,although quite tarnished to say the least ,I have had three VW and Audi group products inc petrol and diesel effected by the frauds.I think you will find that most under 2 litre petrol and diesels way under achieve in this brand ,the 3 litres being better.I HAVE HAD TWO DESIGN FLAW ISSUES WHICH WHEN REPAIRED UNDER WARRANTY HAVE FAILED AGAIN . So yes I will not purchase again and some of my friends are in the same position.I am not saying they are all under achieving , just the majority.
Do not forget that the majority are being subsidised on pcp via the VW Audi and they would be a good buy in this case when you are are not risking your cash .

19 September 2016
Ski Kid wrote:

Yep think they are crap in general compared to Merc,Bmw and JLR, they sell on image ,although quite tarnished to say the least ,I have had three VW and Audi group products inc petrol and diesel effected by the frauds.I think you will find that most under 2 litre petrol and diesels way under achieve in this brand ,the 3 litres being better.I HAVE HAD TWO DESIGN FLAW ISSUES WHICH WHEN REPAIRED UNDER WARRANTY HAVE FAILED AGAIN . So yes I will not purchase again and some of my friends are in the same position.I am not saying they are all under achieving , just the majority.
Do not forget that the majority are being subsidised on pcp via the VW Audi and they would be a good buy in this case when you are are not risking your cash .

I couldn't give a stuff about Audi but I am sorry I have to write to disagree with you about VW. Yes, they've had some reliability issues in the past but they've actually improved a lot more recently. I think you're missing a point in that depending on how the person drives, a sub 2.0 litre TDI with say 110bhp isn't going to be a quick car. Drive it with some effort to go relatively quickly and you are by nature going to use more fuel as it's not an "effortless" drive. Drive it slowly and basically drive like a nun down the motorway and it will do quite a lot of miles to the gallon. I am sorry you've also experienced the problems you have, but saying "just the majority" is frankly complete rubbish being polite. Why then have I had four Golf's with NO ISSUES WHATSOEVER, and I know lots of people who have enjoyed happy motoring. Every manufacturer has problems but don't just say "mostly"...that is not fact, it is your opinion only.

19 September 2016

Up until I saw the build sheet I thought the Ateca was superb VFM with a starting price of under £18,000 but if you want the 1.4 COD engine you have to go right up the range and end up spending £24,000 for the Xcellence. I've only had a brief look so apologies if I couldn't find a lower petrol spec model with anything other than the 1.0

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Ford Focus RS Mountune FPM375
    First Drive
    20 January 2017
    Does an official Mountune upgrade of 25bhp and 30lb ft, improve the already rampant and rather magnificent Ford Focus RS?
  • Audi S5 Sportback
    First Drive
    19 January 2017
    The Audi S5 Sportback is more bruising GT than practical sports car, but it makes sense for those wanting a fast executive saloon in coupé get-up
  • First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Despite receiving a cosmetic and mechanical refresh, Lexus's compact executive saloon still fails to provide much driving involvement
  • 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 5h review
    First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Big-selling plug-in SUV gets a light refresh in the face of new challengers to offer decent economy but only average driving dynamics
  • Mini Countryman Cooper S
    First Drive
    18 January 2017
    All-new bigger Mini continues to make a curious, flawed crossover hatchback, though it’s more compelling to drive than some and more practical than it used to be