Friday 23 June 2017

VW's help could see Seat drive past its SUV rivals

DEBUT SEASON: The Seat Ateca has the look of a Leon
DEBUT SEASON: The Seat Ateca has the look of a Leon

Martin Brennan

Ibiza, Malaga, Alhambra, Leon and Toledo, all well known Spanish hotspots which have given their names to Seat cars and MPVs. But few will have heard of Ateca, the name given to the first ever SUV from the VW-owned motor-maker, which has the potential to become a bestseller crossover for the brand after the Ibiza and Leon. For the record, Ateca is a small town with a population of just over 2,000 people near Zaragoza in north west Spain.

The new model has been wholly designed and developed at the Martorell factory outside Barcelona, say Seat. But it is built in the Skoda factory in the Czech Republic on a shortened version of the VW MQB platform that carries the VW Touran. And there are shades of Skoda's strong lines in the rear. Up front there is very much of the Leon look.

This is Leon stretched in every direction with the high-heel stance and it looks very smart. It is aimed at the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar segment of the market. There is also a plan to bring in a Juke rival to the market next year, with two other new arrivals coming shortly as part of Seat's low-cost product offensive.

Making your debut in one of the fastest growing segments of the market - even if you are aiming at the price conscious - things have to be right from the start. And VW's helping hand is apparent with their platform, switch gear, suspensions and electronics widely used. Expect a top quality drive even with the higher stance.

One criticism that can be levelled is that the Ateca seems to still have too much of a Leon look about it - the usually avant-garde Seat ­designers seem to have erred on the side of caution here.

With an eye on family motoring, the Ateca boasts the highest score in the Euro NCAP test programme with five stars, with the emphasis on adult and child passenger safety. A host of driver assistance systems are available depending on which of the three levels of trim is chosen.

Shorter than the Tiguan, the boot space is 510 litres (the Tiguan has 615 litres) but the Ateca beats Qashqai (430) and Kadjar (472).

On sale in September, the entry price is a tempting €24,750 with the expected best-selling model, the 1.6TDi in mid-SE specification, costing €28,150.

There are two petrol engines in the line-up starting with a one-litre 115bhp TSi, while the diesel options range from 115bhp to 190bhp. Automatic transmission and AWD drive is available.

Sunday Independent

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