Friday 28 October 2016

Take your SEAT Ateca for new Crossover's late, late show

First drive in Barcelona: SEAT Ateca

Aidan Timmons

Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30

SEAT's first crack at the crossover market: the Ateca
SEAT's first crack at the crossover market: the Ateca
Seat interior

Ray Kroc, whose brainchild was the fast food empire McDonald's, found his business stride when he was in his fifties.

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World renowned wedding dress designer, Vera Wang, only began dominating the fashion landscape when she was 40. Actor Samuel L Jackson's big break came in 1991 when he was 43.

What I am driving at here, is that the proverbs "better late than never" and "good things come to those who wait" are proverbs for good reason. And both expressions are almost inextricably linked. At least, that is what SEAT will be hoping.

At an exclusive first-look event in the port city of Barcelona, SEAT unveiled a new family member; called Ateca.

This is the Spanish brand's first crack at putting an SUV into production and just like Kroc, Wang, and Jackson before it, SEAT is a little late to its respective party. However, the music is still blaring and there is an open bar.

The medium SUV/crossover segment is by no means a saturated market. So far this year, one-in-every-five cars sold in Ireland was a mid-size SUV.

Our voracious appetite for such vehicles is coming at the family/fleet saloon's expense, but without prominent representation in that segment, SEAT is in no danger of cannibalising itself with the Ateca.

So then, this new SUV assumes the role of Spanish automotive conquistador and it sets about its business with an air of assuredness.

The big reveal in Barcelona was a static launch, so there was no on-road time with the car. It was a shame because the new Traffic Jam Assist feature, which brings semi-autonomous driving to slow city traffic sounded like an intriguing concept. The show cars had the usual smattering of tasty technological features such large 8ins touchscreens, an automatic boot that opens when you wave your foot underneath the bumper, Lane Departure Warning Systems, Blind Spot Indicators, Adaptive Cruise Control, and wireless smartphone charging.

The Ateca is handsome and sculpted. The doors close with a hefty, reassuring clunk.

The interior is neatly arranged and the quality of the materials used is of a much higher standard than perhaps a lot of people give SEAT credit for.

With the Qashqai, Sportage, Tucson et al firmly in its headlights, the Ateca is sized within a few millimetres in every direction to its rivals.

There is head, leg, and boot space aplenty.

Ateca is a big mid-size SUV.

SEAT will offer the Ateca with a good range of engines and transmissions comprising 1.0 and 1.4 litre TSi petrols and 1.6 and 2.0 litre turbo diesels.

Four-wheel-drive is an option with the 2.0 litre diesel.

Expect to see a diverse choice of specifications from entry level S models to range topping 'Xcellence' and 'FR'.

Exact spec and pricing have yet to be announced but delivery of the first wave of Atecas will land sometime in late summer/early autumn.

Some might say it's a bit too late for SEAT, but then people might have said the same about Ray Kroc, Vera Wang, and Samuel L Jackson; and they turned out alright.

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