It seems hardly five minutes ago that the perennial Seat-related question was not a matter of shiny new product but whether the Spanish car maker could possibly hope to survive its seemingly endless non-profit status.

Last-chance survival plans and borrowing end-of-line Audi machinery have featured in the manufacturer’s recent past, as has filling its Martorell factory with Q3 production in an effort to finally make it a cost-effective operation.

Now, though, the future looks suddenly bright. The firm actually claimed a wafer-thin profit in 2016, evidence that its latest business plan was on the right track – a track leading inexorably to this, the proclaimed light at the end of the tunnel: the Ateca.

It’s possible to overstate the importance of the introduction of a crossover into some manufacturers’ line-ups, but probably not in Seat’s case, where the chronic lack of anything SUV-shaped meant that the brand was virtually absent from half of the current car market.

The Ateca plugs that hole in style - so much so that the Barcelona-based manufactuer has swiftly followed it up with the hatchback-cum-crossover Arona, based on the fabulous new Seat Ibiza. Why have one class-leading example in a segment, when you can have two?

Top 5 Crossover hatchbacks

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • BAC Mono 2018 UK first drive review - hero front
    12 November 2018
    First Drive
    Momentously fast single-seater's competition DNA runs far deeper than...
  • Mitsubishi L200
    Mitsubishi L200
    10 November 2018
    First Drive
    Mitsubishi's popular pick-up has been given a rugged revamp after just...
  • Hyundai Kona Electric 2018 road test review - hero front
    9 November 2018
    Car review
    Hyundai’s affordable electric crossover has the numbers to shake this market...

Closely related to the Volkswagen Tiguan and the Skoda Karoq, this Spanish interpretation of the SUV looks mildly sensational and, with a very small petrol engine aboard, can be had for less than £18,000.

That makes it cheaper to buy than the equivalent entry-level Nissan Qashqai, the car Seat is obviously hoping to blow out the water.

While harbouring that same ambition has not resulted in a host of other manufacturers overcoming Nissan’s superstar, recent group testing has already revealed the top-spec Ateca to have all the makings of a new class leader.

Now, though, we descend into the fleet-biased nitty gritty: road testing the car not with the more powerful engine and drivetrain to which Nissan doesn’t really possess an answer, but with the far more modest front-wheel drive/small diesel combination that it most certainly does.

The mid-spec 1.6 TDI SE model we have here starts at £21,900 – practically the same money that buys you a Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta. Game on. 

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • BAC Mono 2018 UK first drive review - hero front
    12 November 2018
    First Drive
    Momentously fast single-seater's competition DNA runs far deeper than...
  • Mitsubishi L200
    Mitsubishi L200
    10 November 2018
    First Drive
    Mitsubishi's popular pick-up has been given a rugged revamp after just...
  • Hyundai Kona Electric 2018 road test review - hero front
    9 November 2018
    Car review
    Hyundai’s affordable electric crossover has the numbers to shake this market...