What is it?
Considering the Nissan Qashqai is in its second generation and has sold by the bucket load, you could argue Seat’s a bit late to the SUV party. However it’s hoping to make up ground quickly; from May it will open order books on this new Seat Ateca to challenge the Qashqai, and has also confirmed a smaller Juke rival will join it next year.
The Ateca’s finer details are yet to be finalised, but here’s what we know so far: there’ll be three trims starting from £17,990 for the S, followed by SE, then a range-topping Xcellence model, which should come in at under £30,000.
Engines will include two petrols and three diesels, most with a choice of six-speed manual or optional dual-clutch automatic gearboxes, and four-wheel drive will be available on the diesels.
The Ateca is built off the ubiquitous Volkswagen Group MQB platform that also underpins the forthcoming new Tiguan, so the skeptics among you may see this as nothing but a rehash of that car. But Seat is keen to point out the Ateca has been engineered from day one as a sporty lifestyle vehicle, and has a very different character to it’s pricier VW stablemate.
It’s certainly got plenty of new kit. Options will include a traffic jam assist, which, like a Mercedes S-Class, will ease the stress of slow-moving jams by operating the accelerator, brakes and steering for you.
And if you fall asleep behind the wheel, an Emergency Assist system will attempt to rouse you with a beep, followed by a pulsing of the brakes. If that doesn’t do the job, the Ateca will take matters into its own hands and bring itself to a halt, keeping within its lane, and stick its hazards on. At this point the now irate truck driver behind might use more traditional methods to wake you from your slumber.
For the smartphone generation, MirrorLink and Apple CarPlay will be available to allow you to connect your phone if you go for the top-spec infotainment system. This will also read out new text, Twitter and Facebook messages, and let you dictate a reply if you are desperate to comment on a post. It’s even got the capability to let you set up your own screen gestures to shortcut to your most popular commands.