SEAT shows up late with a compelling car

SEAT Ateca
SEAT Ateca
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HERE’S THE answer to those who deride ‘Chelsea Tractors’ for being gas-guzzling beasts.

It’s a 1.0 litre SEAT which manages 61mpg on a run and has emissions of 119g/km, which makes it one of the greenest cars in its class.

You read that right. It is a 999cc engine, the sort of unit which used to be confined to asthmatic superminis.

But despite this car being quite a substantial SUV, it manages the sort of performance which makes it a pleasure to drive. It could manage 114mph if you didn’t value your licence and it will skip to 60mph in 11 slick seconds.

In fact it’s such a good all-rounder it makes you wonder why SEAT hasn’t launched it before. OK, so SEAT are one of the smaller car manufacturers despite being part of the ever-expanding Volkswagen Group empire, but the Ateca is such a fine vehicle it should have been brought to market a little while ago.

That’s not to say it will have everything its own way. There are some terrific rivals out there, from Suzuki, Nissan, Renault - all the big players, in fact.

But the Ateca has the benefit of Volkswagen-style build quality, reasonable prices and, most importantly, fantastic engines.

Above all, it rides and handles better than you would ever imagine for such a vehicle and it comes well equipped, too. Not everyone will want a 1.0 litre powerplant, of course, so SEAT has made sure there is an engine for all tastes: there is a 1.4 petrol and 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesels. If pushed, I’d go for the 2.0 litre diesel, but the 1.0 litre option doesn’t embarrass itself at all.

In fact, for an entry-level car it is smartly equipped with central locking, air conditioning, climate control, power steering and electric windows and mirrors. It also has alloy wheels which help it stand out in the crowd.

Better-equipped models also have innovative high-tech assistance systems such as Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Traffic Jam Assist, which do what they say.

It also comes with that new ‘must-have’ feature - an electronic tailgate system, plus a wireless charger for phones and other kit.

The car is obviously a development from the Leon and looks good as a result, sharper and sleeker than the Volkswagen Tiguan, for example.

Three trim levels will offer colours and top-quality materials to suit every taste, with the top-of-the-range being the Ateca XCELLENCE.

The car looks very much SEAT-like from the front and is a fine all-round package. If you wanted to nit-pick you might consider the cabin to be less upmarket than its principle rivals, and the warranty is miserly compared to some.

But to have such a capable SUV for under £18,000 which can hold more than 500 litres of luggage makes it a compelling choice.

* In keeping with SEAT tradition, the Ateca derives its name from Spanish geography, this time taking inspiration from a village near Zaragoza.

SEAT Ateca 1.0 TSI 115ps

PRICE: £17,990

ENGINE: A 999cc four-cylinder engine generating 115bhp

PERFORMANCE: Top speed 114nph and 0 to 60mph in 11 seconds

COSTS: Town 45.6mpg; country 61.4mpg; combined 54.3mpg

INSURANCE: Group 13E

EMISSIONS: 119g/km

WARRANTY: Three years, 60,000 miles

Volkswagen Tiguan: bigger, more versions, but less stylish and more expensive.

Renault Kadjar: It’s a close-run thing but the SEAT edges it for on-road manners.

Kia Sportage: Again, close. Similar prices and space. It comes down to taste.

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