Sequestered as they are between proper SUVs and peppy hatchbacks, compact crossovers’ default dynamic characteristic is usually to be neither one thing nor the other, resulting in something that is neither desperately tall and pillowy nor precisely nimble or engaging.
That has clearly suited the target buyer, but we’ve tended toward faint praise for the segment as a whole and long bemoaned the absence of anything resembling a driver’s car.
The Ateca doesn’t entirely resolve that, but it comes closer than any before in plugging the gap between soft-roader aesthetic and handling aptitude.
Fundamentally, it makes this leap by taking a familiarly short, logical step and seeking to do nothing more than drive like a hoisted-up Leon.
The trick here is that Seat has made the frequently proclaimed intention work. Rather than adopt the slightly bigger-skin feel that VW has grafted onto the Tiguan’s platform, the smaller Ateca takes full advantage of carrying less weight on its simpler, mildly stiffer chassis.
Its positive feel is complemented by the credible heft and directness of the electric steering, in turn delivering much the same assured driving style we’ve credited to practically every MQB derivative since its introduction.
Only the sneaking suspicion that the torsion beam rear axle is striking obstacles at speed with slightly less sympathy than the multi-link set-up would gently inhibits the front-drive version’s appeal.
That’s forgivable, though, given the all-wheel-drive car’s premium, and in all honesty it barely dents the lasting impression of the first-rate compromise struck here in the cooking model.
On Millbrook’s Hill Route, the Seat was everything we have come to expect from the MQB platform: confident, astute and practically foolproof — and yet gently involving, too.