SEAT Ateca 2016 preview
The Ateca is SEAT's first ever attempt at an SUV or crossover (ignoring for a moment the Leon ST estate based Leon X-Perience) and it's seen as one of the most important new models the Spanish firm has yet launched. That's because it enters one of the hottest sectors of the new car market, where there's real growth. It seems buyers have cottoned on to the fact that they can have a good-looking and status-enhancing SUV for the price of a well-specified hatchback, which explains these cars' meteoric rise through the sales charts. SEAT, for the first time ever, can now compete on an equal footing.
What will its rivals be?
That's an easy one to answer, but not so easy to choose a winner. So, first up there are the obvious crossovers, like the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Kia Sportage and perhaps even Skoda's Yeti. Then there are established models that have always been referred to as SUVs, but in reality are along the same lines. Think Ford Kuga, Toyota RAV4 and the excellent new Volkswagen Tiguan. You shouldn't discount the Mazda CX-5 and Honda HR-V either and of course the Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade. Basically there's no end of choice for crossover buyers, so the Ateca needs to be good. At the time of writing, the Tucson is the best-selling car in Ireland.
Any tech info?
Something called Full Link should appeal to buyers with smartphones (does anyone not have a smartphone now?). It includes Apple Car Play, Android Auto and Mirror Link tech so virtually any decent phone is compatible. Plug it in via a USB cable and you'll be asked if you want to connect via Full Link, allowing access to a selection of the phone's apps via voice control and the Ateca's crisp, responsive touch screen. If you've got one of those few phones with wireless charging capability, the Ateca can be had with a wireless charger too, though that's a bit superfluous if you've already plugged in via USB. Anyway...
What will the range be like?
Prices for the SEAT Ateca start at €24,750 for the Ateca S, featuring 16-inch alloy wheels, front parking sensors, Bluetooth, a colour touchscreen and more. The mid-level Ateca SE starts at €27,920 and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, climate control, rear parking sensors, cruise control and others. At the top is the Xcellence model, starting from €31,120 and featuring 18-inch wheels, a rear view camera, LED lights all-round and leather upholstery.
A wide range of engines includes 1.0 and 1.4-litre TSI petrol options, along with 1.6 and 2.0-litre TDI diesels. Power outputs rise as high as 190hp, there's front- or four-wheel drive and manual or DSG automatic gearboxes.
From what we've seen, the Ateca has the makings of being a huge hit. It's one of the best-looking cars in the segment, is well-priced and equipped and has a wide range of engine options to suit all needs.