SEAT finally get in on SUV act as new Ateca crossover goes on sale here
It has been a long time coming but SEAT can finally say they have a Crossover for Irish buyers.
The mid-sized Ateca was unveiled to the press here in Ireland this week at a time when nearly one-in-five new cars being bought is a Crossover/SUV.
The Ateca gets something of a head start on its Volkswagen Group rivals with bits and pieces of technology, but the most important thing is that buyers now have yet another option.
And the new arrival heads up the biggest tranche of new cars the company has produced.
There will be four over the next 12 months if we include the Ateca: a new Ibiza next June, followed by the Arona small Crossover in November 2017 (a rival for the Renault Captur/Nissan Juke) and a facelifted Leon in February.
But the focus for now is on the Ateca. It's cleanly drawn, if a little understated, has a roomier cabin than most and loads of boot space.
The dash and instrumentation are simple and straightforward and there is a decent driving position.
It is a thoroughly modern Crossover which ticks many of the boxes buyers are looking for: smart, roomy and well-priced (starting from €24,750)
There are petrol and diesel engines as well as 2WD and 4WD versions and manual or 7spd DSG transmissions, so there's a big spread of models.
I drove two in Kildare. The 2-litre 150bhp diesel 4x4 did it no favours with a flat delivery of power and little by way of sparkle.
In wonderful contrast, the 1.4-litre petrol (from €27,920 for SE spec) brought the car to life. Talk about chalk and cheese.
It gave a far better feel for how good a chassis underpins this and how sharp a driver it can be.
Don't be a bit afraid of petrol in a car like this; if your mileage is low, go for it. They even have a 1-litre version (€24,750). At the moment 9pc of the segment is petrol but it could rise to 15pc for next year.
However, the anticipated big seller is still going to be the 1.6-litre 115bhp diesel (from €26,450).
The 2-litre models start from €29,500. There will be a sportier FR version next year.
They say they consciously set out to peg their prices below their key rivals - the Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Tucson, KIA Sportage and Renault Kadjar in what is one of the most price-sensitive market sectors.
Stablemate Volkswagen Tiguan isn't regarded as a core rival because it is priced higher. Simply put: it is too expensive.
While the term 'game changer' is much hackneyed, in the Ateca's case it is true for SEAT. They are hoping that around 1,000 people will buy one next year - a substantial fillip for dealers here.
And PCP will play a central role, especially with a subvented 3.9pc APR on mid-grade SE models. Deals start at €279/month.
Families with small children are the prime targets and there is a three-year warranty.