31 January 2018

SEAT Ateca 2018 car review

Get behind the wheel of this SEAT Ateca, and if it weren’t for the steering-wheel badge you might think you were in a Volkswagen.

SEAT Ateca jm3 18
SEAT Ateca
SEAT Ateca jm5 18
SEAT Ateca
SEAT Ateca jm6 18
SEAT Ateca
SEAT Ateca jm7 18
SEAT Ateca

The simplest way to separate Audi, VW, Skoda and SEAT is to look at their flavour. Audi exudes luxury and sporty sharpness. VW sits below it at the luxury edge of the mainstream, then comes Skoda with a more practical flavour, while SEAT is its sporty counterpart.

The Ateca – loosely based on VW’s Tiguan – sells in three specification levels and with three engine options, with price starting at $38,900 for the base front-drive Style.

But this 2.0-litre turbo-diesel Xcellence 4Drive costs $52,900 — seven grand less than the 4WD Tiguan. What that gets you is a smart and practical soft-roading SUV with five seats, the rears folding almost flat to liberate a generous luggage area.

The highlight is how punchy this turbo-diesel engine is, thanks in part to the fact that peak torque is available anywhere from 1750rpm to 3250rpm, just before the 3500rpm at which peak power arrives. That means you’re surfing the best of this engine’s delivery most of the time, if you want, with urge delivered via the VW Group seven-speed DSG auto which seems almost supernaturally clever at working out whether you want to go up or down a cog. You can also adjust the Ateca to your drive preference, tailoring gearshifts, steering and throttle response to taste.

As a result, if you’re faced with a series of tight corners and a car-load of tolerant passengers you can urge this Ateca along with an impressive display of urge, and it feels a touch tighter than you might expect of what is basically a high-riding family wagon. But it’s not really out-and-out sporting — if it was, you’d rattle the kids’ fillings out on the school run. Which makes the fact that you can access a lap timer and G-force dials on the eight-inch info display more of a BBQ boasting tool than an actually useful device. Especially if you want to see anything like the claimed 7.5l/100km combined thirst SEAT claims. Fortunately the engine complies with EURO6 regs, so at least it produces less CO2 than most…

Specification for this top-spec Ateca is generous, with seven airbags, traction and stability control standard, as well as blind-spot detection, and city emergency braking. There’s a top-, as well as reversing camera to give you a better idea of everything around you, from felled bicycles to unwary household pets, and better still, there’s ‘rear cross traffic alert’ which lets you know if something’s approaching from the side, a boon in busy supermarket parking lots or round bustling schools.

Entertainment tech includes handsfree Bluetooth, USB, Aux in and SD card ports, voice control, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, and you can add satnav with three years of free map updates for $850.

 The two outer rear seats offer isofix and child-seat tethers, but not the centre rear – otherwise the safest spot in any car – and then come the comfy bits. These include dual zone climate control, supportive, sporty-looking seats covered in black leather – a $1600 option in our test car – and heated up front, with a storage box under the driver seat to hide your wallet while at the beach or on the rugby game sidelines, and even spot lighting, to illuminate the drive around the front doors and alert passers-by to what type of car you drive, even in the dark. Necessary? Not really, but certainly nice, as is the hands-free electric tailgate when your hands are full.

Sadly, we found the 225/50R18 tyres wrapping these 18-inch performance wheels a tad noisier at cruising speeds than some owners will like, and the driver seat base squab a little long. The majority of folk will still find a reasonable adjustment to live with, but drivers shorter than this writer’s 1.66 metres should be sure to check this before they buy.

Overall, those who like to stand out from the crowd, but not too much, may appreciate SEAT’s unfamiliar badge combined with typically VW restrained styling and well-thought-out interiors. If so, this Ateca will deliver everything a Tiguan does, with a bit more spice and a lower price.

At a glance


SEAT Ateca Excellence 4Drive


1968cc turbo diesel



ANCAP safety rating



140kW at 4200–6000rpm, 320Nm at 1450–4200rpm


7 speed DSG auto

Fuel economy

5.3l/100km combined

Towing capacity




Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

485–1579 litres

Safety systems

7 Airbags

2 ISOFIX and child top tethers

Front assist, city emergency braking

ABS and stability control

Blindspot detection with rear traffic alert

Electronic diff lock

Rear and top view camera


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