From £17,9358
Addition of DSG automatic gearbox in this top-spec model doesn't show the Ateca small SUV in its best light
Mark Tisshaw
20 April 2017

What is it?

The Seat Ateca, the car that finally delivered Seat to the alter at the sharpest end of the European mainstream, has been on sale in the UK for less than eight months. So common a sight is it on our roads, this was a fact I had to triple-check.

The Ateca is such a common sight on our roads for good reason: it’s the best small SUV you can buy in its popular and fast-growing class. The Ateca is so far the only car to out-Nissan Qashqai the, er, Nissan Qashqai.

Now the Ateca range is busily being filled out in the truest Volkswagen Group MQB style. Of note here is the seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic gearbox now available hooked up to the 148bhp 1.4 EcoTSI engine (EcoTSI being Seat’s shorthand for the now familiar cylinder deactivation in the four-cylinder engine), and the range-topping Xcellence trim (with an added £680 option box ticked for 19in alloy wheels). 

What's it like?

The 1.4 EcoTSI petrol engine marks the real sweet spot of the Ateca range, but it’s not quite as sweet here hooked up to an automatic as on earlier tests with the standard six-speed manualYou have to work a bit harder to access its wide spread of torque and exploit the engine’s willingness to rev, which is at odds with the fact step-off is so blunt and gives the car a mighty shove forward when pulling out of a junction. The gearbox’s more relaxed nature also stops you fully enjoying the chassis, which is the class’s most involving.


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Still, forgetting the gearbox, this Ateca did manage to display the car’s impressive handling traits we’ve quickly got used to. This is an SUV that you can really enjoy driving; it turns in nicely and has a grippy front end, all of which bodes well for the upcoming Ateca FR and Ateca Cupra versions.

Our test car’s 19in wheels were further evidence that larger sets should be avoided on an Ateca; they push the ride over to the uncomfortable side of sporty. The Ateca is a firm-riding car anyway - the trade off for its tidy handling - but these 19in wheels are where the line should be drawn. There was plenty of tyre roar from the low-profile tyres, too.

Fuel economy wasn’t great on our test route; a steady 300-mile journey, a fair chunk of it on motorways and dual carriageways, produced closer to 35mpg than 40mpg. That's well short of the claimed 51.4mpg figure, although there's no surprise in that.

The well-specced interior is the same as on other Ateca models, and adds in leather on this Xcellence trim. There were a couple of technical gremlins in our test car, though, and are worthy of note. The voice control system felt like a throwback: for instance, ask to call your mum and Planet Rock ends up on the radio station. The DAB radio reception itself was also quite patchy, which is an even bigger frustration given that it's not standard kit lower down the range. 

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Should I buy one?

The wider message has clearly got through that the Ateca is a very good car indeed. In fact, amongst non-car loving friends, it's the car I’ve been asked about the most in this past year.

But when they now ask me if they should I buy one, I’ll say: "yes, but make sure you get one with a manual gearbox and steer clear of the 19in alloys. It'll be better to drive, more comfortable and you'll save yourself a good chunk of cash in the process".

Seat Ateca 1.4 EcoTSI DSG 150PS Xcellence

Price £25,950; Engine 4cyls, 1395cc, petrol, turbo; Power 148bhp 5000-6000rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1500-3500rpm; Gearbox 7spd dual-clutch automatic; Kerb weight 1375kg; 0-62mph 8.6sec; Top speed 125mph; Economy 51.4mpg; CO2/tax band 125g/km/24%; Rivals Nissan Qashqai, Skoda Yeti

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20 April 2017
I have not seen one yet! maybe not memorable looking enough. " it’s the best small SUV you can buy in its popular and fast-growing class" Really? Not by my criteria!

20 April 2017
The Apprentice wrote:

I have not seen one yet! maybe not memorable looking enough. " it’s the best small SUV you can buy in its popular and fast-growing class" Really? Not by my criteria!

And your criteria is?

20 April 2017
Small wheels, high profile tyres = decent ride and the handling is still sharp, sweet engine, slick gearbox, less depreciation and a bargain at £18k for the S. Unless you need to haul a trailer etc why pay more for something that doesn't drive as well? Wish that VAG would ditch the DSG for a modern efficient torque converter as per Peugeot with the excellent Aisin box on the 1.2 Puretech.

20 April 2017
Shrub wrote:

Small wheels, high profile tyres = decent ride and the handling is still sharp, ..

The article says the 19 inch wheels were an option that had nothing to do with the specific model

20 April 2017
Brilliant engine, quick and probably more economical in the long run over 1.0.
Will always be worth more come sale time, and, if you brought the 1.0 you won't be wishing you'd spent more whenever you thrash the 1.0 when trying fully loaded trying to overtake that lorry.

20 April 2017
I do not like the Audi Vw dsg gearbox have friends that have had loads of problems with A3 A5 and TT cost £6k to fix one guy got 90% from Audi towards it as out of warranty but from a second hand point of view I am concerned about the residuals for this troublesome auto box.It will not get anywhere near 51.4 mpg more likely 30 to 35 mpg my son has the same engine in an Ibiza and is a great engine but he gets 35 to 28 mpg official is 60 mpg.

20 April 2017
Father in law hasn't reset the computer in his 1.4 COD A3 from new and he's now done 36,000 miles, reading is 51.2mpg.
SKKID I'd get that Ibiza and your Golf diesel, you've previously mentioned, seen to or sold.

20 April 2017
you need to check the fuel correctly never rely on the trip most of these cars especially the smaller 1600cc and below are way below official mpg.the Golf recently had the VW update and went down from 42-
43 t0 39 - 40 mpg so was best not seen to.The Ibiza has done mainly motorway work services regularly, now done 43k in two years.Your father in law probably drives veerry sloowly and may be getting 45 to 50if checked out.Cheers

21 April 2017
How can you possibly make that conclusion, you don't even know the colour of the car. Thanks and sorry to hear your Golf Diesel 2.0 is now in 30's, I think you'll find yours is in the minority of sub 40 diesel Golfs

21 April 2017
I have found most trips can be 10% out even more including most manufacturers the most accurate was my Xj but every other Merc,Bmw,Audi ,VW,Toyota,land Rover,Hyundai,Seat and Ford all out .I only comment on factual figures worked out over lifetime of car broken down in segments.i do not trust theoretical mpg even What car figures for tru seem to use analysiswhich I would question fa rbetter to see what the hell is being used for real.


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