It’s not just the tidy front end that impresses, though. The spring and damper rates feel nicely honed, so instead of demonstrating the usual SUV trait of bucking like a bronco over crests and dips, the Ateca stays on a tight leash. It’s a similar theme through any roundabout or bend taken with vigour; despite its height, the Ateca doesn’t lurch like a weeping willow caught by a hefty gust.
There is, of course, payback for this: the ride is firm. With 17in wheels the Ateca deals with lighter surface undulations admirably well but, inevitably, jolts over larger, sharper-edged intrusions. However, avoid the optional 19in wheels, which really exacerbate the problem, and it’s an acceptable compromise, we think.
Inside it’s basically a Seat Leon with a better view out. It’s not the most imaginative looking piece of interior design but it is easy to use. The upper materials look and feel pleasantly squidgy; lower down that plushness gives way to harder, scratchier plastics. Still, at this price point that’s not uncommon.
Up front there’s not much to whinge about concerning the driving position. The steering wheel and seats have a big enough range of movement – including driver and passenger seat height and lumbar adjustment – to adapt to different body shapes. There’s plenty of head and leg room, too.
Rear seat passengers shouldn’t whinge, either. For two tall adults there’s ample leg room, while the head room offered is impressive - only extreme headgear extravagance of the kind seen on Lady’s Day at Ascot might show up a weakness. And you can fit three across the rear bench in reasonable comfort, providing your trio accepts some shoulder rubbing. In fact, the only real flaw is that there’s no sliding or reclining rear bench like you find in a Volkswagen Tiguan; then again, the Ateca is a much cheaper option than its VW Group stablemate.
The boot is bang on the money for the class. It’s a fraction bigger than a Qashqai’s, so you’ll have no problems throwing in a couple of large suitcases or fold-up prams, but do go for the optional dual-height boot floor, which lets you separate out delicate items and reduces the step left when you fold down the rear seats.