The Seat Ateca, the firm’s crucial new SUV, will be priced from £17,990 when it goes on sale on 3 May, with first UK deliveries expected in September.
The starting price undercuts the Nissan Qashqai, a key rival to the Ateca, which is priced from £18,545.
Three trim levels are available for the Ateca: S, SE and Xcellence; SE models will start from £19,590 and Xcellence from £23,905. Top-spec Xcellence cars will come with a 187bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine, a DSG automatic gearbox and four-wheel-drive, priced at £29,990.
SUVs have been rapidly gaining popularity in Europe, and last year became the biggest-selling type of car in the region for the first time. The Ateca, which has a similar footprint to the Leon, is Seat’s first ever SUV and should bring significant growth to the VW Group brand.
It will also be followed by a smaller SUV based on the next-generation Ibiza, which is due in 2017, with a larger SUV under investigation for production by the end of the decade.
Underpinned by the VW Group’s versatile MQB platform, the Ateca is 4.36m long, which makes it just 2cm shorter than the Qashqai. It shares its 2.64m wheelbase with the Leon, while the 1.84m width and 1.6m height are also in line with the Qashqai.
The five-seat Ateca will be offered with standard front-wheel drive and optional four-wheel drive from launch and a familiar range of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines.
The entry-level petrol unit is the three-cylinder 113bhp 1.0 TSI. A 1.4 TSI with 148bhp and cylinder deactivation technology is the other petrol engine. A 1.6 TDI diesel is offered with 113bhp, and a 2.0 TDI with 148bhp or 187bhp.
All engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox optional on more powerful engines. All-wheel drive is offered on the diesel engines only.
The most efficient model in the range is the 113bhp 1.6 TDI with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive. This has CO2 emissions of 112g/km and combined economy of 65.7mpg.
Seat has already confirmed that an FR version of the Ateca will be offered at a later date, and that a performance Cupra version is under consideration. Versions with off-road styling are also likely.
The new Ateca, named after a village in Spain, sports a sharp, sculptured design evolved from that of the Leon range. Among the features are full LED headlights and the option of LEDs in the exterior mirrors that illuminate the floor area around the doors when they are unlocked, projecting the Ateca name at the same time. A similar feature is offered on Range Rovers.
The interior is also familiar from the Leon, borrowing that car’s looks and touchscreen infotainment system. The gear lever has been shortened, however, in order to to give it a more sporty feeling.
Seat is pushing the sporting credentials of the Ateca. R&D boss Matthias Rabe describes the cars as having the “most dynamic ride possible”, and “light-footed, precision handling”.
The Ateca’s boot capacity is rated at 510 litres, reducing to 485 litres on all-wheel drive versions. This is significantly greater than the Qashqai’s standard 430 litres.
Technology features on the Ateca include wireless smartphone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and the ability to wave your foot under the tailgate for it to open automatically.
Another feature is an autonomous driving function called Traffic Jam Assist that steers, accelerates and brakes the car in heavy traffic at speeds of up to 37mph. Also new is a function called Emergency Assist that detects if the driver has been inactive for a period before pinging an alert, pulsing the brake and then bringing the car to a standstill if there’s no reaction.