Thursday 22 March 2018

Late arrival Ateca adds another option to crossover shopping list

SEAT's new Ateca
SEAT's new Ateca

Cathal Doyle in Barcelona

IT is becoming increasingly challenging to stand out from the crowd in the crossover sector.

SEAT's new Ateca is its first offering but like the cool kid who arrives late to the party, it's all about the impact you make when you do turn up.

SEAT suggest competitive pricing, driving appeal and decent spec levels will help establish the Ateca as a serious contender when it goes on sale here at the end of the summer.

An entry price of €24,750 is eye-catching, while a likely volume selling 1.6 TDi in mid-spec SE trim for €28,150 stands up well compared with competitors.

It shares the same MQB platform and many of its underpinnings with the new Volkswagen Tiguan. But they stress the Ateca has its own character, notably the styling, with its angular lines, which takes its cues from current Seat models such as the Leon.

There will be three trim levels: S, SE and Xcellence, with a performance FR version to follow.

SEAT's new Ateca
SEAT's new Ateca

SE models are expected to account for more than 60pc of purchases. They add parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and a 5ins multimedia touchscreen over the entry level model.

They say the range-topping Xcellence - a €3,200 step up on the SE - has more than equivalent models from rivals. LED headlights, 8ins touchscreen, chromed roof rails and a connectivity box for wireless phone charging are included.

There's the usual line-up of VW -derived engines, including a brace of petrols - a 115hp 1.0 TSi and 150hp 1.4 TSi. Diesels range from a 1.6 TDI with 115hp to 150hp and 190hp 2-litre versions (DSG auto optional). There is also a 5th generation Haldex all-wheel-drive option. There wasn't a 1.6 TDi to test but predictably both the 150hp versions of petrol and diesel were more than capable of shifting the Ateca along effortlessly. The diesel's low-down torque probably makes it the easier car for day-to-day driving.

Add the usual caveat about smooth surfaced Spanish roads not bearing a huge resemblance to typical Irish fare, but the handling of the Ateca impressed.

SEAT's new Ateca
SEAT's new Ateca

For a crossover there was surprisingly little body roll, and the front end tucked in tenaciously when chucked into corners. On first impressions, it's one of the better we've driven in this class.

Lots of driver assistance systems feature including Traffic Jam Assist, Emergency Assist and Top View (four cameras give a bird's eye view of the vehicle).

We drove around a course in the centre of Barcelona 'blind', using only this on-screen view to negotiate - a strange sensation, but no cones were damaged.

Also included is City Emergency Brake function with Pedestrian Protection. While we discovered that this works, it wasn't necessarily reassuring. Driving in city traffic, the car ahead decided to brake late for a red light. Even though we were at least 20 metres back and reacting, the system hit the brakes aggressively. No fear of hitting the car in front, but we'd be concerned about a vehicle behind rear-ending us such was the braking force.

That aside, the new Ateca adds up to a likeable all-round package. Maybe not a game-changer, but certainly a serious competitor in the existing ranks of crossovers.

Irish Independent

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