On the one hand, the fact the Seat Ateca is such a blindingly good car is a formbook-shredding shock. Seat has never built a crossover before. Frankly, it’s several years late offering a model in the world’s fastest-growing car-sales battleground. A place where it’s increasingly difficult to innovate, stand out or upset the established order. Well, the Ateca does.
On the other hand, Seat’s vanquished rivals will bleat that as part of VW Group, the Spanish outpost could call upon a decade’s worth of VW Tiguan, Audi Q3 and Skoda Yeti lessons, R&D and the latest in VW platform, powertrain and technology trinkets to gets its tall hatch off the ground. Fair point. But even VW might be a touch wary of just how polished the Ateca has turned out.
Anyway, sod the boardroom hand-wringing and grinding of teeth. Not our problem. We’re more interested in how Seat’s brilliant all-rounder settles into life with a time-pushed, money-conscious, demanding family. Crossovers are the new default family cars. And this one hits every nail on the head.
It’s a great drive, maintaining the energy and deftness that makes the Leon such a dark horse, without knackering the ride in the name of handling smarts. That boxy physique makes it super-roomy, so it’s future-proofed against overnight-lofty teenagers. It’s solidly put together, and though it’s a bit dour inside, we’d take that over flimsy gimmicks. Especially when the layout is so achingly logical.
You can have a peppy, not-underpowered 1.0-litre turbo engine, a 1.4 turbo or a brace of efficient diesels. The manual gearbox is a peach, the all-wheel-drive system is handy off-road and the car itself is unreasonably handsome and very competitively priced. It’s a crossover that you would actually be proud to own.