SEAT have been very late to the market when it comes to the crossover segment. In fact, the closest they have ever got to a 4×4 was the jacked up Altea Freetrack…urgh.
But, nearly 10 years after the market emerged with the Qashqai, SEAT finally join the club with the ATECA.
Starting at £17,990 in boggo S trim level with a 3 cylinder 1.0 litre turbo’d lump and a 6 speed ‘box it’s in line with the rest of the crossover gang.
Our test car was the 1.4 EcoTSI in SE guise, stack it with nearly £3k of options, including the 8” sat nav at £525 and a rather costly electric tailgate with keyless go at £765 and the price goes up to £23,845.
The larger 1.4 turbo engine meant the ATECA can hit 62 in 8.5 seconds which is rather nippy.
SEAT have really crafted a niche of their own in the last few years with an edgy, angular design.
Ok, occasionally it all gets a little bit VW Audi Group with the three marques being hard to tell apart, but overall their sharp lines have kept them looking far more appealing than their Germanic brethren.
The ATECA is no different, with its standard SEAT front face grafted on, it looks a bit like a jacked-up Leon from the front. But overall it’s height and profile remain pretty squat, especially when you compare it to the likes of the Mazda CX3.
The angular theme continues along the side and onto the boot, it does look very car like side on, more like a lifted estate than a crossover.
It could certainly be called bland, but it’s easy on the eye and inoffensive.
|Length – 4363 mm
Width – 1841 mm
Height – 1601 mm
Wheelbase – 2638 mm
Front Track – 1576 mm
Rear Track – 1541 mm
|Boot Capacity – 510 Litres
Fuel Tank Capacity – 50 Litres
Kerb Weight – 1359 KG
Towing Weight No Brake – 670 KG
Towing Weight With 8% Brake – 1850 KG
Towing Weight With 2% Brake – 1800 KG
Packing 147 BHP and a whopping 250Nm of torque the plucky little 1.4 turbo performs well. It always feels lively and energetic, happy to rev out to its upper limits.
But that performance comes at a cost, in the dry and especially in the wet acceleration is met with wheelspin. The wheelspin starts, then the traction control kicks in making you lurch forward as it kills all the power before setting off once again.
We encountered this in each of the three driving modes, Normal, Sport and Eco. It feels strange to say it in a crossover, but it could do with a limited slip diff.
Anything more than half throttle when setting off from a standstill results in tyres slipping, setting off out of a corner in the wet feels like being a ballerina on ice.
Maybe it’s down to the sensitive pedal, it’s very light and could be a bit twitchy in terms of modulation.
Handling is spot on though, it feels far more like a mid-sized hot hatch than a crossover. You can throw it around corners and press on in complete confidence. It’s not wallowly, but nor is it too stiff, it gives it an air of being a ‘drivers’ car which is very strange in this market segment.
Steering feel is nicely weighted and direct in nature; you can dart from one lane to another with ease. The ATECA must be the best handling crossover out of the current line-up, although the Peugeot 3008 is pretty close to the mark, but it feels like a bigger car than the ATECA.
SEAT give the 1.4 EcoTSI an urban rating of 45.6 MPG, we only managed 39.2 on average, and 37 when we were around town.
In all honesty, the interior of the ATECA is a bit of a let-down. It’s just bland and bare. I’m all for the minimalist look, but everything just seems so far away from you and remote.
A car should feel like a cocoon cosseting you. The ATECA feels like walking into a house that’s three times bigger than you need, it’s just cold.
The front seats are comfy enough, but to look at them they aren’t anything to write home about, and some of the upper door plastics are a bit cheap on the eye.
We can’t fault the sat nav, infotainment or any of the switchgear as it’s all great quality. But when you compare the inside of the new Peugeot 3008 SUV compared to the SEAT it just feels totally last generation.
Things have moved on since then and the luxury, ‘built around you’ nature of the Peugeot just wins it by a mile.
SEAT have missed the boat with the ATECA, if it had come out in 2014 along with the latest gen Qashqai it would have been a sure-fire winner. But then you look at the starting price and realise in its entry level form it’s cheaper than the Qashqai by £500, it bests the Sportage by £250, the Kadjar by over £1,000, and the new Peugeot 3008 starts at a whopping £21,795.
So, it’s a bit of a bargain if you go really basic. But a middle of the range engine and spec will set you back near enough £24k, no matter the crossover you choose.
For me, it boils down to the interior. Can you live with that when you know how good it could be on the French side of life?
Owner / Editor of Carwitter – French car fiend, hot hatch lover. Follow @car_witter