From £17,9357
Detuned GTI engine lends plenty of pace and polish, but the sporty Ateca’s ride and steering don’t distinguish the car as well

Our Verdict

Seat Ateca

Seat's first attempt at building an SUV is a cracker and knocked the Nissan Qashqai off its perch in the process, so we discover what makes the Ateca our class leader

What is it?

This is the Seat Ateca crossover – rare among new cars because it’s proving something of a UK sales hit and is highly rated in these parts – that we’re testing for the first time in near-top-of-the-range petrol form.

This version uses Volkswagen’s 'EA888’ 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine detuned from the state in which it powers various Cupra and GTI performance models, but it's still good for 187bhp and 236lb ft of torque: outputs that match those of the more expensive like-for-like Volkswagen T-Roc. It’s available only with clutch-based part-time four-wheel drive and only with a paddleshift twin-clutch gearbox – again, exactly like the matching T-Roc.

FR is Seat’s lower-level performance trim that applies to both petrol and diesel engines. It gets you 18in alloy wheels, sports styling and a fairly generous equipment level including LED headlights and a parking camera. Unlike on other Seat models, however, it doesn't come with lowered sport suspension. As you might have read elsewhere, there will be an even more powerful Ateca Cupra (which won't be branded a Seat) later this year, should you want one.

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What's it like?

The FR bodystyling puts effective visual icing on the cake of what’s widely recognised as one of the crossover class’s more handsome constituents.

Those parts of the Ateca’s body made up of grey plastic – the lower front and rear bumpers, lower sills and wheel arch extensions – all become body-coloured parts here, making for a particularly telling improvement to the looks of light-coloured cars like our test example. You get a slightly larger roof spoiler, too, as well as chrome-tipped twin exhaust pipes – both are discretely eye-catching touches.

The Ateca’s interior, too, continues to look and feel like it’s worthy of a class-leading car. The driving environment offers a comfy, supportive seat in front of well-placed controls and the dashboard is appealingly presented and finished, with clutter kept to a minimum. Second-row space is better than in most crossover hatchbacks that might challenge the Ateca on visual allure; however, it’s worth noting that, as is commonly the case, anyone who’s likely to carry adults in the back regularly should avoid the optional panoramic sunroof, which robs a bit of head room.

Boot space is a generous 485 litres, although this is slightly less than front-driven Atecas, which get a double-level boot floor.

When we road-tested the identically engined T-Roc recently, we were struck by the flexibility, refinement and outright performance of this unit; and, by and large, the Ateca presses all the same buttons. It’s quiet, smooth and has great driveability at low revs and town speeds, with strong punch delivered smartly when you dig into the accelerator and lasting smoothness and forcefulness as the revs rise.

This is certainly the kind of engine you’d want a sporting crossover to have and it’s a cut above the smaller-capacity turbos that certain rivals use.

There are times, however, that the Ateca’s four-wheel drive, twin-clutch transmission hardware seems less slick than in the related T-Roc. Hurried ‘kickdown’ downshifts from that seven-speed gearbox come with more of a thump in the Ateca than in its VW sibling, for example.

The Ateca’s ride and handling echo the same trend. Given the car’s wider record on relative handling dynamism and driver engagement, you expect plenty in these respects. But while it has plenty of lateral grip and tidy, agile handling in outright terms, the Ateca FR requires greater compromises be made for those things than some of its rivals do.

Rolling on optional 19in wheels and without Seat’s Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers, our test car was unlikely to have represented the Ateca at its most dynamically rounded. But it definitely had coarser refinement – it's noisy over rough surfaces and crashes over sharper edges – than the average crossover driver would expect.

The slightly light, remote and over-assisted feel of the power steering is, likewise, a touch disappointing. The Ateca FR uses the passive variable-ratio steering 'box seen in other VW Group performance models, but struggles to deliver decent on-centre stability, making it hard to stay centred in your lane at higher speeds. It also operates with uniformity of weight off-centre, even as the rack is picking up pace – this can make the added bite of the steering come as a surprise at times.

Should I buy one?

The Seat Ateca FR certainly corners more keenly than most cars of its ilk and has a great engine, but it’s not quite the added-practicality driver’s car you might have hoped it could be.

It’s still got all the wider attractions of the Ateca, of course – and, compared with direct rivals with the same power and performance, it’s well-priced (although its official fuel economy and CO2 claims are less impressive). Overall, though, we’d recommend sticking to the cheaper end of the range and avoid FR trim if you want the best out of your Ateca; or turn to other brands if you’ve got upwards of £30,000 in your budget.

Seat Ateca FR 2.0 TSI 190 4Drive DSG

Engine 4cyls in line, 1984cc, turbocharged petrol Power 187bhp at 4180-6000rpm; Torque 236lb ft at 1500-4180rpm; Gearbox 7-spd twin-clutch automatic; Kerb weight 1536kg; 0-62mph 7.9sec; Top speed 132mph; Economy 40.4mpg (NEDC combined); CO2/tax band 159g/km; Rivals Volkswagen T-Roc 2.0 TSI SEL, BMW X1 xDrive20i Sport

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Comments
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289

14 March 2018

Where did oyu get that price from Autocar?

The FR 190 starts at £30,090 and the Ateca Range starts from £18,670....

14 March 2018

Are you sure that is a photo of the EA888 engine - looks like the 1.4 or 1.5 EA211 to me 

15 March 2018

That the transmission thumps when changing down surprises me if its fine in the t-roc, why would this be? Still dont see the allure of this over the leon or any crossover over their hatch equivalents.

15 March 2018
si73 wrote:

That the transmission thumps when changing down surprises me if its fine in the t-roc, why would this be? Still dont see the allure of this over the leon or any crossover over their hatch equivalents.

The Leon 1.2 DSG i had as a courtesy car recently also did this - fine going up the gears but put your foot down especially if it had to drop two gears it would thump and that was the dry clutch 7 speed I would of though this had the wet clutch and should be better 

15 March 2018

The usual Autocar VW Group homily. It's forbiden to acknwoldge VW accomplishment without paying the VW price tag but it must be associated with said VW in order for potential buyers to make the it's a VW but cheaper equation with the Seat brand having liitle merit in its own right. No other rival gets a name call to muddy the waters of the core marketing message. Never mention the Skoda Karaoke alertnative with its USP plastic ice scaper lest confusion will rain on those in the sporty camp and those in sensible camp. VW buyers, at ease, your plasitcky T-Roc remains unassaible for just a few grand piece of mind more. It's OK, I read it in a magazine - its the perfect choice for those sensible types with a slightly M&S sporty demeanour, not be confused with the 2xist sporty types who buy Audis. Not where was I. Are you too embarassed to metion the price? You can get an Audi Q2 for 8 grand less than this! 

15 March 2018
comment8 wrote:

The usual Autocar VW Group homily. It's forbiden to acknwoldge VW accomplishment without paying the VW price tag but it must be associated with said VW in order for potential buyers to make the it's a VW but cheaper equation with the Seat brand having liitle merit in its own right. No other rival gets a name call to muddy the waters of the core marketing message. Never mention the Skoda Karaoke alertnative with its USP plastic ice scaper lest confusion will rain on those in the sporty camp and those in sensible camp. VW buyers, at ease, your plasitcky T-Roc remains unassaible for just a few grand piece of mind more. It's OK, I read it in a magazine - its the perfect choice for those sensible types with a slightly M&S sporty demeanour, not be confused with the 2xist sporty types who buy Audis. Not where was I. Are you too embarassed to metion the price? You can get an Audi Q2 for 8 grand less than this! 

Shut up, you prick. Your grammar and spelling is also appalling.

16 March 2018

I suffer from perseveration because of an acquired brain injury. I must write elsewhere where spell check is available and post from there.  The above was posted from my mobile. Here you go:

The usual Autocar VW Group homily. It's forbidden to acknowledge VW accomplishment without paying the VW price tag, but it must be associated with said VW in order for potential buyers to make the it's a VW but cheaper equation with the Seat brand having little merit in its own right. No other rival gets a name call to muddy the waters of the core marketing message. Never mention the Skoda Karaoke alternative with its USP plastic ice scraper lest confusion will rain on those in the sporty camp and those in sensible camp. VW buyers, at ease, your plasticky T-Roc remains unassailed for just a few grand peace of mind more. It's OK, I read it in a magazine - it’s the perfect choice for those sensible types with a slightly M&S sporty demeanour, not be confused with the 2xist sporty types who buy Audis. Not where was I. Are you too embarrassed to mention the price? You can get an Audi Q2 for 8 grand less than this! 

P.S that should be "Your grammar and spelling ARE also appalling".

 

16 March 2018

I suffer from perseveration because of an acquired brain injury. I must write elsewhere where spell check is available and post from there.  The above was posted from my mobile. Here you go:

The usual Autocar VW Group homily. It's forbidden to acknowledge VW accomplishment without paying the VW price tag, but it must be associated with said VW in order for potential buyers to make the it's a VW but cheaper equation with the Seat brand having little merit in its own right. No other rival gets a name call to muddy the waters of the core marketing message. Never mention the Skoda Karaoke alternative with its USP plastic ice scraper lest confusion will rain on those in the sporty camp and those in sensible camp. VW buyers, at ease, your plasticky T-Roc remains unassailed for just a few grand peace of mind more. It's OK, I read it in a magazine - it’s the perfect choice for those sensible types with a slightly M&S sporty demeanour, not be confused with the 2xist sporty types who buy Audis. Not where was I. Are you too embarrassed to mention the price? You can get an Audi Q2 for 8 grand less than this! 

P.S that should be "Your grammar and spelling ARE also appalling".

 

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