Test Drive by Graham Breeze
SEAT don't do things by halves these days and the arrival of the new Ateca has already given the company a massive boost.
SEAT's first venture into the compact SUV market couldn't have better foundations than the MQB platform that has underpinned just about every new VW Group model over the last few years. So it was a no-brainer really.
The real question is why it took them so long to join the fray where the likes of Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and Renault Kadjar have been winning plaudits and sales growth?
Or was it a wise and well thought out ploy of watching and waiting to see what the small SUV sector really wanted because the new Ateca really does now tick all the right boxes.
The strangely named Ateca follows SEAT tradition in being named after a small Spanish village, is a sister model to the Leon and although designed by the Spanish brand, is built at the Kvasiny, Czech Republic factory of sister VW Group brand Skoda.
It's all about image at SEAT these days and bosses see the Ateca taking the brand a step further, predicting the company's UK market share will rocket from 54% to 75% with this latest arrival as well as promising a baby brother Arona due in July.
The Ateca becomes SEAT's third brand pillar alongside Ibiza and Leon and there are five trim levels S, SE, First Edition, SE Technology and Excellence with trim and technology packages to match. All the signs suggest it may become as important to the company as Ibiza and Leon have.
There's a choice of five engines, two petrol 1.0TSi 115 and 1.4 TSi 150, and three diesels, 1.6TDi 115, 2.0 TDi 150 and 190 with four wheel drive available on both the 2.0 TDi engines.
Prices start at around £18,000 for the entry model but the Xcellence 2.0TDi 4 Drive 190PS 7-speed DSG automatic recently tested will set you back £30,000 and you can add an extra £5k if you want the 8-inch screen navigation system with 3D mapping, advanced comfort pack and a few others such as a tow bar.
You do get a lot of standard kit for that price though such as LED daytime lighting, split folding rear seats, touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth and steering wheel mounted radio and phone controls
The door mirrors get welcome lights which silhouette the SEAT logo onto the floor to help show you home, LED interior lighting, sports seats, leather upholstery and a convenience pack which includes rain and light sensors, auto-dipping rear view mirror and 18inch alloys.
Outwardly the Ateca is as good looking as any other SUV on the UK market, but you wouldn't say it stands out and I'm not sure SEAT has done enough inside either. Behind the wheel it's typically SEAT but I wanted to be oozing compliments about the fascia but found little to excite.
It's easy to get comfortable though, either as driver or passenger with loads of adjustment options? You sit high up and all-round visibility is excellent. There's more room inside than most families will ever need with leg room in plenty supply and space for three rear seat passengers.
The boot is impressively deep with a false floor and rear seats fold away neatly to give that extra room when needed. There,s plenty of room ho house the golf clubs too.
The 2.0litre TDi is impressively quick with a top speed of 132mph and 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds. On top of that average fuel consumption tops 53mpg and CO2 levels are more than acceptable at 135g/km.
It you are looking for a combination of style, space and performance the Ateca may be just what you are looking for and judging by the noises from the SEAT boardroom the suits are happy with the way things are going.