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SEAT Ateca engines, driving and performance

How does the SEAT Ateca drive?

SUVs are usually a bit hamstrung on the road thanks to their taller centre of gravity against something like a hatchback, which means they often feel more roly-poly.

This isn't an issue in the Ateca, which feels surprisingly sporty on the move. It resists roll through corners well, which makes the controls feel more responsive as a result. Plus, with natural weighting and sensible pedal tuning, driving the Ateca very quickly becomes second nature.

It's only if you get out and step into a Ford Kuga, will you notice that the SEAT still feels a little safe and sanitised by comparison. The Ford, conversely, responds to inputs with the agility of a hatchback, without descending into safe understeer as quickly as the Ateca does.

Is the SEAT Ateca comfortable?

Stiffening the Ateca's suspension to give it more reactive handling has, sadly, slightly compromised the car's comfort compared to its platform-mates. The Karoq and Tiguan ride with a little more grace than the SEAT and do a better job of reducing the severity of bumps before they make it to the cabin. For many buyers who'll be using this car as a daily driver, they might appreciate the extra padding the Skoda and VW alternatives enjoy.

Refinement is, at least, very strong. Wind and tyre roar, along with suspension thuds are almost entirely eliminated before they make it to the interior. You'll hear a little grumble from our pick-of-the-range engine – the 1.0-litre TSI – but what the upgraded 1.5 lacks in extra performance, it makes up for with superb isolation, barely registering in the cabin, even under hard acceleration.

What’s the best SEAT Ateca engine to get?

Our favourite engine for the Ateca is the 1.0-litre TSI. This modest petrol engine is the most affordable option in the lineup and actually has better responses than the larger 1.5, which needs to be thrashed fairly severely before it starts to deliver its advertised 150hp.

You can look to the car's 2.0-litre TSI petrol with 190hp if you want more insistent acceleration but, if you're headed in that direction, we think you're better off going all in on the Cupra Ateca with its 300hp engine. This actually bestows the car with enough power to take on today's hot hatches, while retaining the practical Ateca platform.

SEAT Ateca performance

If you're looking at the Ateca's engine lineup on paper, clearly the 1.5-litre TSI outclasses the 1.0-litre TSI. However, in practice, the smaller engine is the nicer unit, with faster responses and more willing low-end acceleration. The 1.5-litre is faster when you floor the throttle all the way into the carpet but, in day-to-day driving, it just doesn't feel as grunty as the 1.0-litre unit.

Obviously, the 2.0-litre TSI is another noticeable leap in performance, taking the 0-62mph run down to a hair over seven seconds. However, once you're at that stage, we think you'll get more enjoyment from the 300hp Cupra Ateca, which actually has the horsepower to go toe-to-toe with some serious sports cars.

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