SEAT's updated Ateca now looks like an even stronger proposition in the Motability crossover segment. It's sharply styled, featuring a fully redesigned front end, a slightly tweaked LED brake light design at the rear, extra connectivity technology and more driver assistance features as standard.
There are eleven SEAT Ateca models to choose from this month, and you can now order the Ateca 1.5 TSi 'FR’ for £95 Advance Payment, down from £499 last quarter. The automatic version is now £345 (section updated October 2023).
In 2016 the Volkswagen Group properly got on board with the current market preference for Qashqai-style Crossover models. SEAT's first real take on the concept was this car, the Ateca. It's since become one of the Iberian manufacturer's biggest selling models, over 300,000 having been sold prior to the launch of this facelifted version.
Nothing too extreme's been done here. Nothing much needed to be. The Ateca was already the best car in its segment to drive and also one of the most affordable and one of the more efficient. But its looks were becoming over-familiar, so SEAT's tweaked those, at the same time as adding the latest screen tech to the cabin, plus there's been some mild tinkering in the engine range.
Prior to the original launch of this Ateca, we'd come to accept that compact Crossover models of this kind were never going to be very good to drive. If that's still your perspective, then a pleasant surprise is in store once you hit a few twisty roads in this little SUV. Drive at seven or eight tenths and there's pretty much no difference between the dynamic responses you get from this SEAT and those of the Leon hatchback it's based upon. Only when you push right to the limit does this Ateca's taller stance and slight extra weight begin to tell - and even then, the car's pretty responsive, with well-controlled body roll and enthusiastic levels of grip and traction.
That much has remained the same with this revised version, but there are a few changes on the engine front. The turbocharged 1.0-litre three cylinder TSI petrol unit that most customers choose is now standardised with 110PS and gets a range of updates to improve its efficiency. It's only available linked to manual transmission. If you want the option of an auto with a petrol-powered Ateca, you'll probably want the 1.5 TSI unit, which puts out 150PS and is also now slightly more efficient, as before integrating Active Cylinder Management technology. The most powerful petrol option is a 190PS 2.0-litre TSI unit which can only be had linked to DSG dual-clutch auto transmission and an extra-cost 4Drive all-wheel-drive system. As for diesel, well the previous 1.6 TDI unit is no more, replaced by a 115PS 2.0-litre TDI powerplant. There's also a 2.0-litre TDI 150PS diesel unit, which can be had with the option of DSG dual-clutch auto transmission and 4Drive AWD.
You'd recognise this as a slightly newer model thanks to its revised radiator grille, its smarter LED headlamps and its redesigned fog lamps. Further design changes have been made to the front air intakes, the skid plate and the bumper. The designers have also added the same creases into the bonnet as you'll find on the latest Leon hatch and the large Tarraco SUV, establishing a family connection between these key models. There are also new exhaust pipes and on the tailgate, the Ateca gets the handwriting-style logo badge we first saw on the latest Leon. Under skin, this SEAT continues to sit on the same MQB platform as its more conventional Leon stablemate and uses most of the same mechanicals found in similarly-sized Volkswagen Group SUVs.
Inside, there are fresh designs for the door cards and smarter trim materials, plus there's much nicer re-upholstered steering wheel. Plusher models now get the 10.25-inch SEAT Digital Cockpit instrument binnacle screen. Plus across the range, an upgraded infotainment system, which incorporates a new HMI interface, is available via repositioned 8.25-inch or 9.2-inch touchscreens, ensuring that the interior is fully digitalised.
At the back, there's decent room for two adults on supportive seats, but the bench doesn't slide nor do the back rests recline like they do in a Volkswagen Tiguan. The 485-litre boot's a bit smaller than that pricier Volkswagen rival model too, though will easily swallow a couple of big cases and a pushchair.
The updated range includes a choice of 6 trim levels - 'SE', 'SE Technology', the sportier 'FR' and 'FR Sport' plus the new range-topping 'Xperience' and 'Xperience Lux' variants which will focus on all-terrain styling.
All of the updated models get a bigger touchscreen than before and every version of the Ateca now gets wireless phone charging, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. There’s also a brand new steering wheel first seen in the all-new Leon too.
Other available technology includes predictive adaptive cruise control, pre-crash assist, emergency assist and blind-spot monitoring. The new Xperience trims also get a new feature called Side and Exit Assist which checks to make sure you’re not going to hit anyone when manoeuvring out of a parking space.
On the outside, the new Ateca has a redesigned front end with a new hexagonal grille and slimmer headlights that take their inspiration from the new SEAT Leon and the bigger 7 seat SEAT Tarraco SUV. The rear also gets tweaked LED brake light clusters plus there's new ‘Ateca’ lettering like we've already seen on the new Leon.
A little surprisingly, there's no trace of engine electrification here - for the time being anyway. The key news with this revised model is that the 1.0-litre TSI three cylinder petrol engine that most Ateca customers choose now features a new combustion process and a variable geometry turbocharger, which together improve efficiency by claimed 10%. There's also a 1.5 150PS petrol engine that will take the new Ateca from 0-62 mph in a very reasonable 8.2 seconds. The alternative entry-level diesel, a 115PS 2.0-litre TDI unit, has also been enhanced over the previous 1.6 litre TDI powerplant, now featuring a twin-dosing SCR system that cuts and NOx emissions significantly. Expect around 50mpg on the combined cycle and around 150g/km from this base diesel.
SEAT's first effort in this segment was worth waiting for, and this latest version has made it even better. The Ateca isn't quite the size of a Tiguan - but then on the other hand it's always been a much more affordable option for Motability customers. And there's a dash of spirit and character in this updated version here that many potential Motability customers will like. The engine changes are probably most significant, with greater economy and lower emissions for the base petrol and diesel units that most Ateca buyers will want. But we think this car's biggest selling point will continue to be something that hasn't been affected one jot by this update. Driving dynamics. This is still that rarest of things, a small SUV that is great to drive.
In summary, if you were just about to order a Nissan Qashqai or something similar through Motability, before you make your mind up we think the updated SEAT Ateca is certainly worth a look.
People with a disability and carers who choose a new SEAT Ateca through Motability will receive a brand new car, delivered by a Motability Specialist at a local SEAT dealership, complete with insurance, servicing and maintenance, full breakdown assistance, replacement tyre cover, windscreen repair or replacement cover plus a mileage allowance of 60,000 miles over three years.
This month, these SEAT Ateca models can be ordered through the Motability Scheme: