Seat Ateca Review
The Seat Ateca is one of the best mid-size SUVs, offering practicality and efficiency with a dash of style.
Published: 23 November 2022
The Seat Ateca is a mid-size SUV that appeals to both the head and the heart. Your head will appreciate its space, practicality, fuel-efficiency, quality and value for money. Your heart could be swayed by its stylish looks and engaging driving experience. There are lots of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, the option of an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive and a broad spread of trim levels. So there should be an Ateca to suit your needs.
- Great value
- Excellent fuel economy
- Enjoyable to drive
- Interior lacks that ‘wow’ factor
- Ride can feel rather firm
- Diesels can be noisy
Dashboard & tech
The Ateca’s interior design is a bit dour but it’s well designed and easy to use. Get into the car for the first time and you’ll probably work out what all the buttons and knobs do within just a couple of minutes.
In the middle of the dashboard, there’s the touchscreen display for the infotainment system. This has been updated with extra features several times through the Ateca’s time on sale. Whichever version of the system is fitted, the screen is responsive when pressed or swiped, and the menus are easy to navigate around. Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto was added in 2018.
Other features you’ll find in the Ateca include air con, Bluetooth and DAB radio. Many models also have cruise control, parking sensors and sat nav.
The seats in the Ateca are nice and soft, yet very supportive. So you shouldn’t experience aches and pains during a long journey. The interior is generally very quiet, though the diesels can sound a bit loud when accelerating. The seats are at a convenient height for getting in without having to climb up or bend down and the doors open wide.
The Ateca feels very robust. You won’t doubt its ability to stand up to the rigours of family life. Everything you use most – steering wheel, gear stick, door handles, heater controls – feel nice to the touch. Other areas like the top of the dashboard are a little hard and functional, but that doesn’t detract from what is quite a pleasant interior.
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Practicality & boot space
The Ateca is one of the smaller mid-size SUVs, but the interior has a pretty generous amount of space. Four six-foot adults fit comfortably, so most families with two children should have all the space they need. There’s actually space in the front for people who are more than six-feet tall and even if a front seat is pushed all the way back, there’s still a useful amount of legroom in the back. That’s by no means the case in every car. You can get five people into the Ateca, but the middle back seat is quite narrow.
The back seats have been well-planned for parents with young children. There are two sets of Isofix mounts, the back doors open wide and there’s lots of space to work in when installing a child seat and lifting little ones into the car. The height of the back seat means you don’t have to bend down, either.
There are loads of spaces throughout the interior for storing phones, wallets, drinks, snacks, books and so on. Particularly useful are the huge cubby hole in the centre console, the drawers under each front seat and the sunglasses holder in the ceiling.
The Ateca’s boot gives you 510 litres of space – that’s about average for a mid-size SUV, but considerably more than you’d get in a hatchback of similar size. Few families are likely to need more room to cover their day-to-day needs. A couple of bulky pushchairs, a cricket team’s kit or an energetic Labrador will fit in easily.
Note that models with four-wheel drive have a slightly smaller boot with 485 litres of space.
The back seats fold down in a two-part, 60/40 split, creating a usefully large 1,604 litres of space. Ideal for those trips to DIY stores and the following tip run. The back seats don’t fold flush with the boot floor, leaving a small lip to heave loads over.
The boot floor is height-adjustable. Position it at the lower level and there’s quite a lot of extra space available. At the higher level, the floor is level with the back bumper for easier loading and there’s space underneath for things like shopping bags and muddy shoes.
It’s worth noting that diesel four-wheel-drive models of the Ateca can tow as much as 2,100kg – a lot for this type of car.
The Ateca feels quite lively to drive. The steering is light yet precise, you can sense the car’s agility as you turn into a corner. That’s as useful in a supermarket car park as it is on a country road. If you’re minded to, you can have some fun in the Ateca. If not, you’ll enjoy how safe and stable it feels, whether you’re cruising along the motorway or tackling a really bumpy back road.
The ride is a little on the firm side, especially in sporty FR models, which can jiggle you about on bumpy roads. But the comfortable seats help offset that.
The Ateca doesn’t weigh much for a mid-size SUV, so even the least-powerful models accelerate reasonably quickly. The most popular engines have around 150 bhp and feel pretty sprightly, accelerating quicker than plenty of more powerful – but heavier – rivals. Overtaking on country roads and cruising along the motorway are both taken in those engines’ stride. The most-powerful models can accelerate as quickly as many hot hatchbacks, but there is a penalty to pay for that performance in lower fuel economy. (An even faster version of the Ateca with 300 bhp is sold by the Cupra brand.)
Fuel economy & CO2 emissions
The Ateca is among the most fuel-efficient mid-size SUVs you can buy. With a petrol engine, the Ateca can give average fuel economy of 32mpg to 54mpg, according to official figures, depending on which one you get. Diesels can give 39mpg to 60mpg. It’s worth noting that the way a car’s average fuel economy is calculated changed in 2018 to better represent real-world driving. That change had the effect of lowering a car’s official economy figures. So Ateca models sold before that change was made appear on paper to be more efficient. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Ateca is fundamentally a fuel-efficient car.
Now let’s look at carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and, again, they’re very good for a mid-size SUV. According to official figures, petrol models emit 119g/km to 183g/km and diesels emit 118g/km to 180g/km. Those numbers translate to relatively low annual vehicle excise duty charges – in some cases you’ll pay just £30 a year.
Value for money
You get lots of space and a generous helping of standard equipment in the Ateca for a very reasonable price, so it works out to be excellent value for money. And that’s true whether you’re buying it new or used.
Reliability & Warranty
Seat has a strong reputation for building dependable cars that are satisfying to own and the Ateca is arguably the best of all Seats in that regard since it regularly scores high marks in owner-satisfaction surveys.
Warranty coverage is a standard three years or 60,000 miles (whichever comes first).
Safety organisation Euro NCAP awarded a full five-star safety rating to the Ateca, saying it protects passengers very well in a crash and is fitted with lots of driver-safety features designed to make a crash less likely in the first place.
Those features include an automatic emergency braking system that can detect pedestrians and a driver tiredness monitor that shows a warning on the dashboard suggesting that you should take a break during a journey. Some Ateca models have extra features including lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition.
Trims & Engines
There are lots of trim levels available to choose from. The range starts at S and rises to Xcellence. There’s also the sporty-looking FR. You might come across trim levels with a two-part name like Xcellence Lux – the second part of the name indicates that the car has a package of extra features.
The mid-range SE, SE Technology and SE L trims are the most popular because they have lots of standard features for a reasonable price.
All Ateca trim levels come with alloy wheels, air con, Bluetooth and DAB radio. Beyond the entry-point S, you also get cruise control and rear parking sensors. Many trim levels also have sat nav.
The Ateca is available with a wide range of petrol and diesel engines. Let’s look at the petrol ones – called TSI – in more detail. There are four to choose from, which have different amounts of bhp. The 1.0 TSI has 108 bhp or 113bhp, depending on the model. The 1.4 TSI and 1.5 TSI both have 147bhp. And the 2.0 TSI has 187bhp.
Now we’ll look at the diesels, called TDI. There are two available: the 1.6-litre TDI has 113bhp and the 2.0-litre TDI is available with either 114bhp, 147bhp or 187bhp, depending on the model.
You can choose between a manual or automatic gearbox and some models have four-wheel drive, which Seat calls 4Drive.
Models with 147bhp are the most popular because they give a great balance between performance and fuel efficiency. Models with 113bhp are pretty popular as well – they don’t accelerate as quickly but they can give you very high mpg.
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