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SEAT Ateca Review

8 / 10
18 March 2024
SEAT Ateca review image front three quarters

We could write off the SEAT Ateca as just a rebadged Skoda Karoq or Volkswagen Tiguan – and that'd still be enough to put it near the top of the family SUV segment.

SEAT's take on this popular SUV recipe isn't just a skin-deep remix, however, but a full-blown remaster. The Ateca has its own sporty character that sets it apart from its siblings, making it a great choice if you still want to have fun while driving your family car.

What we like:
  • A bit more fun to drive than Karoq/Tiguan
  • Easy, family-friendly practicality 
  • Used prices are cheaper than Karoq/Tiguan
What we don't like:
  • Not as comfy as Karoq/Tiguan
  • Rear seats aren't as flexible
  • Cabin has lots of bland plastic

Should I buy a SEAT Ateca?

All the big carmakers have several SUV models now and the SEAT Ateca is the Spanish brand's take on the format. It's not just another 'also-ran', however – the Ateca's strong practicality, solid driving experience and excellent value on the used market make it a great choice for a fun-driving family car.

The problem is the two other cars that turn in nearly identical report cards to the SEAT – the Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen Tiguan. Its sibling SUVs use essentially the same parts and engines as the Ateca, and deliver broadly the same user experience.

We'll take a closer look at what the SEAT does differently to those models, and help you decide whether it deserves your hard-earned cash.

Interior and technology

Oddly enough, the dashboard is one of the few features the Ateca doesn't directly share with the Karoq and Tiguan – instead borrowing a setup similar to the one found in the SEAT Leon hatchback. There are a few nods to style – some metal-effect detailing here, some sporty seat fabrics there – but the overall impression is a little dull, with too much black and dark-coloured plastic for our liking. Neither the Karoq or Tiguan especially impress with their interior style either, but competitors like the Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Qashqai both feel more plush inside.

You won't find SEAT's most recent infotainment system in the Ateca, and that's a good thing. Newer cars have abandoned physical knobs and buttons in favour of fiddly touch-sensitive climate controls, but the Ateca still has proper controls that are easier to use on the move. There is still a screen but it sticks to handling navigation and entertainment functions only – aided by standard-fit Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It's not quite the fastest system on the market, but the shortcut buttons around the screen's edge make it a bit easier to jump between functions.


The Ateca scores a solid 'A' for practicality. There's lots of space up front for even the loftiest driver to find a comfortable position and, even with the front seat slid all the way back, there's enough space in the back for another tall adult. It's not quite an 'A+' performance, however, because the Skoda Karoq manages to squeeze even more space from the same platform, with a little more legroom in the back.

Cargo space is impressive in the SEAT. You get 510 litres of storage, or 485 on four-wheel drive models. Those are impressive figures and mean you'll be able to fit a holiday's worth of luggage, a pushchair or a medium-sized dog with space to spare.

Engines and performance

There's a fairly straightforward range of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines to choose from for the Ateca. This is in contrast to some modern rivals that have bulked out their offerings with hybrid, plug-in-hybrid and full-electric options.

The entry-level 1.0-litre TSI petrol is one of our favourite choices in the lineup. Its 115hp output might sound fairly lightweight against a car like the Ateca but, with lots of low-down torque and great responses, it's easy to nip into gaps through traffic and has enough grunt to pull up to motorway speeds.

We're less convinced by the 1.5-litre TSI petrol. It has more power than the 1.0-litre but you'll only really notice it if you mash the pedal all the way to the floor. Most of the time, it feels a little breathless and needs to be revved up more than the 1.0-litre to start making its advertised power. Some of the 1.5's sluggishness can be rectified with the optional DSG automatic gearbox, which swaps cogs extremely quickly and it is, at least, quieter on the move than the smaller unit.

If you actually want some performance under your Ateca's bonnet, you'll be much better off with the grunty 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engines, which have much more pulling power. You could also look at the Cupra Ateca – a high-performance version fettled by SEAT's former racing division and outfitted with a bonkers 300hp engine for lightning-quick acceleration.

Driving and comfort

Of the Ateca/Karoq/Tiguan trio, the Ateca is definitely the sportiest one to drive. The steering is direct and accurate and, of the three, it seems to suffer the least body roll when you pitch it into a tight corner. Between the intuitive steering and composed body control, the Ateca is undemanding and reasonably rewarding to drive quickly.

Despite all that, however, it's still not a truly 'sporty' car. There's not enough feedback through the steering to know how much grip the front wheels have, and the Ateca can't quite match the more hatchback-like handling you'll get in a Ford Kuga or BMW X1.

This means the Ateca isn't the most entertaining car in its class to drive, but also can't match the more comfy options for ride quality, leaving it a little compromised. As a daily driver, we find ourselves more drawn to the Skoda Karoq – it's not as fun as the Ateca, but the extra comfort is a worthy compromise that you'll appreciate more of the time.

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