Seat Ateca: Nissan-rivalling crossover puts buyers in driving seat
I've been noticing quite a few Seat Ateca models on the road over the summer, which is a good indication that Seat has another hit on its hands.
The compact crossover has been one of the most anticipated cars of the past year.
Seat was late to the SUV/crossover game, but is catching up with the Ateca and the Arona, a Nissan Juke rival that hit forecourts recently.
It has also trailed a larger SUV known as the 20V20 Concept, which appears to be an upmarket rival to the likes of the Skoda Kodiaq.
Officially, the Ateca is the successor to the Seat Altea, an unimpressive offering that never, to my mind, represented the DNA of the sunny, stylish Seat brand.
The Ateca is based on the Leon platform, which is itself based on the Golf (Seat being part of the Volkswagen group, of course).
So, in a way you're getting a compact SUV based on a Golf; a tasty offering indeed.
It comes in a single body style, with six trim levels, two petrol and three diesel engines and competes with the likes of the Renault Kajar and Kia Sportage.
At launch, there were four models available, but that is growing rapidly with a sporty FR model already on the roads in recent weeks.
In a nutshell, the Ateca is good-looking, roomy, laden with tons of kit and is a delight to handle thanks to some nice engineering and a lower driving position than you'd find in key competitors like the Ford Kuga.
The entry-level S trim is well specced, including air con, Media System Touch five-inch touchscreen with USB and SD connectivity, leather steering wheel and gearknob.
There's also split-folding rear seats with recline function, 16-inch 'Design' alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights.
Next stop on the trim level is SE, which is expected to dominate UK sales. It offers dual-zone climate control, heated and folding door mirrors and rear parking sensors.
There's also Full Link (Seat's three-in-one connectivity solution for smartphones and tablets), together with an upgraded infotainment in the form of Media System Plus with eight-inch colour touchscreen, USB/Aux-in port, eight speakers and voice control.
SE Technology trim adds a bunch more tech and safety kit, as you'd expect.
Xcellence trim, which was the flagship at launch, included four new innovations for Seat at the time.
These included a Connectivity Hub with Wireless Phone Charger which also boosts in-car phone signal.
There is a good array of safety aids and systems, including as standard: Front Assist with City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Protection, plus Tiredness Recognition.
Also featuring across the range are ASR traction control, ESC, electronic differential lock (XDS), seven airbags, Hill Hold Control, and also a tyre pressure monitor.
Even at launch, the Ateca came with a good range of engine choices.
There's a frugal 1.6 TDI capable of 65.7 mpg (note: official figures), as well as some pokier 150 PS choices which will return lower figures but be more fun to drive.
The 2.0 TDI 190 diesel looks tasty, but is only available on higher range cars.
The 4Drive (a 4x4 option) is also on offer with the 2.0 TDI 150 diesel engine unit. Mainstream models cost from £17,990 to £29,990.
However, recently the sporty FR model was made available, and if you've the cash and enjoy your driving, this might be the one for you.
FR spec is distinguished from the other models with 4Drive as standard on all 2.0 litre engines, a more muscular exterior design including 18-inch alloys and a more sophisticated interior.
It comes with body-hugging sports front seats with Alcantara upholstery and a grippy leather-trimmed steering wheel.
The Ateca FR range is priced from £24,960 to £30,930.
Belfast Telegraph Digital