While accepting many enthusiasts’ strong prejudice against the modern wave of SUVs, there are still some gems among them. Exhibit A: the Seat Ateca.
This car has been a huge sales hit since arriving in 2016, playing a big part in establishing Seat as a maker of fine SUVs. That success also meant prices on the used market remained strong while demand outstripped supply. Now, however, values are dropping and there is a staggering choice, so a used Ateca is an increasingly attractive purchase.
Seat’s first SUV is available with a healthy choice of engines, from a peppy three-pot petrol to a flexible mile-munching 2.0-litre diesel. And indeed, prices for these used diesels are remarkably low.
The earliest Atecas start at £10,000 with lots of choice for the 1.0 TSI or 1.6 TDI engines – the latter of which is a real bargain for high-mileage drivers. Up your budget to around £13,000 and you’ll gain access to the best all-rounder and our pick of the range: the 1.4 TSI. But also in this price range – again, a good pick for a wily high-mileage driver – you can get hold of the 2.0 TDI. The 1.5 TSI (which replaced the 1.4 TSI) and 2.0 TSI petrol models were the most recent to join the line-up so they still demand the most money. You’re looking at around £20,000 to get one.
Entry-level S trim is pretty sparsely equipped, but SE adds enough goodies to make it the pick of the line-up. SE Technology is a company-car-focused trim, so expect to find high-mileage examples of this model in the classifieds. Sporty FR trim gets slightly stiffer and lower suspension – but rather than transforming this into a performance SUV, it just gives it a less comfortable ride, so we’d skip it. Range-topping Xcellence models get luxuries like heated seats and wireless phone charging, but are relatively rare and the priciest.
But whichever one you pick, it won’t take long to discover that the key to the Ateca’s appeal – and what sets it apart from run-of-the-mill SUVs – is the way it drives. There’s heft and directness in the electric steering, delivering the assured – even gently involving – driving style we’ve come to expect from virtually all MQB-based models, such as the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3. Body lean is well in check through corners, it grips strongly and the ride strikes a fine balance between comfort and sportiness.
You’ll be impressed by the interior quality, too. There’s plenty of soft-touch plastic on the dashboard and the infotainment is excellent, thanks to a crisp screen, shortcut buttons and intuitive software. To top it off, there’s lots of space all round and boot space is near the best in class.