Seat lands Ateca with value to SUV market

by Gazette Reporter

As the crossover SUV segment of the Irish car market continues to grow to over 20%, Seat is the latest brand to join this rapidly expanding market opportunity. Michael Moroney has taken Seat’s new Ateca SUV to the roads and compares its value-for-money offering.
Seat is fresh to the SUV market with the Spanish named Ateca that combines a modern design that’s underpinned by Volkswagen technology. The Ateca mid-range SUV is the latest to join what is becoming a crowded market as sales of so-called SUV crossover vehicles in Ireland and across Europe, continue to rise.
Seat deserves its share of the crossover cake with the new Ateca, which I’ve recently had for a test drive. The look is fresh to the Spanish brand which now enters this segment of the market with the Ateca brandishing a value for money message.
There are five different engine options for the Ateca, ranging from an entry level 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine to the top of the range 190bhp Xcellence version that’s powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine. All engines in the range are 100% Volkswagen in design, build and performance.
Given the strong Volkswagen influence it’s only natural that Ateca buyers will do their comparisons against Volkswagen’s new Tiguan, which was featured in this column some time back. What’s different about the Ateca is the brand name, some of the driving features and that value-for-money offer.
Seat offers three difference specification levels for the Ateca, S, SE and Xcellence. They tempted my driving desires by giving me the top of the range Xcellence model with little left to choose from the extra’s list, as my test vehicle.
And while this was a more powerful and interesting version to drive, the more practical version for most Dublin drivers will be the SE version in two-wheel-drive with a 150bhp rated 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine. And this is the version that I’ve used in my comparison notes and it’s also the one that puts the Ateca in a more favourable light.
The higher power engine gives a more exhilarating performance while the extra weight from the 4×4 system toned down its appetite a little. Most Dublin drivers will opt for the front-wheel-drive versions for reasons of fuel economy and limited need for extra road holding or off-road desires. For many SUV crossover drivers it’s the extra road visibility that brings the biggest advantages.
Relative to the competition, Seat is offering comparable performance from the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine at the popular 150bhp rating level. The Ateca is lighter than most of the other SUV crossovers that I’ve compared it with.
The fact that it’s over 100kg lighter than the related Volkswagen Tiguan helps it to achieve slightly better fuel economy and make it marginally faster in terms of acceleration. On paper, the Ateca is the most economical of my comparison group of six mid-range SUV crossovers. However, in practice, the version that I drove with its full pack of features, including four-wheel-drive, as more than 30% poorer in economy terms than the rated figure.
I found that the DSG automatic seven-speed gearbox system makes the Ateca an easy car to drive, while it adds €2,000 to the list price. This version has also the potential to be more economical and in the right driving hands, it will deliver good driving economy.
Out on the road, this Ateca accelerates well. The road holding was impressive with the 4×4 system included.
The test car was fitted with brown leather interior to give it a more luxury feel. Leather adds strength to car seating but can be cold to sit into first thing in the morning. Seat adjustment was good and I was quickly comfortable behind the wheel.
Compared to the Volkswagen Tiguan, there is a slightly less techie feel to the Ateca. It’s like the overall driver Ateca experience has been toned down a little to ease the competitive strains within the Volkswagen brands. It will be interesting to see how the new Skoda Kodiaq will look and drive when it appears shortly, as it too has a similar heritage.
There are loads of options available for the Ateca and for me the most useful is the Park Assist system. This makes parking so much easier, especially in supermarket car parks and it will save the Ateca bodywork from scratches over time.
The Ateca has a high safety rating with two ISO-Fix attachments for the rear seats. It has an impressive five-star safety rating from the recent and more stringent EuroNCAP testing programme.
The test car came with a space saver spare wheel in the boot. The boot itself is rated at 510 litres for the two-wheel-drive versions; it gets slightly smaller when you take the four-wheel-drive option. The boot load area is larger than that of the Ford Kuga and Nissan Qashqai but smaller than the Toyota RAV4 and Volkswagen Tiguan.
The entry price for the 150bhp Ateca 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is €29,500 which is competitive relative to the related Volkswagen Tiguan, but not so much so when you compare it with the likes of similar offers from the Ford Kuga or Toyota RAV4 with similar power and performance. The Ateca gives you all of the performance features of a Volkswagen family SUV crossover at a more affordable price with a unique Seat styling feel.

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