- Agile handling
- Represents good value for money on the used market
- Should be fairly cheap to run
- Cabin doesn’t feel particularly exciting
- Ride is firmer than the Skoda Karoq
- Four-wheel-drive models are thirsty
The SEAT Ateca is one of our top picks in the super-competitive family SUV class, and you'll find out why in our 2024 SEAT Ateca review.
Buyers of traditional cars like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf are in declining numbers these days, because everyone wants a family SUV with a high seating position, practical cabin and little compromise in the way it drives or how much it costs to run.
The SEAT Ateca is one of many very competent SUVs on the market. It shares its mechanical bits with the Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Karoq, although it’s slightly sportier than both of them, and competes with the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008 and Kia Sportage.
The SEAT Ateca's cabin is very similar to that in the last-generation SEAT Leon, meaning it gets a smart dashboard with an eight-inch media system along with useful buttons for things like climate control. The Ateca's interior isn't exciting by any stretch of the imagination, although it feels well made and comfortable. If you’re expecting plush materials, you’d be better looking for a Volkswagen Tiguan.
Still, the SEAT Ateca is a very practical choice. There’s loads of room in the front, and even adults in the rear ought to be very comfortable thanks to a generous amount of head- and legroom. You can even squeeze three people side-by-side without too much discomfort.
The SEAT Ateca's boot space is one of the most accommodating in its class, capable of lugging up to 510 litres of luggage (note: four-wheel-drive models are slightly less practical). You can drop the rear seats easily if you need more room, although they don’t leave an entirely flat boot floor. There’s no nifty sliding rear bench here, either.
There’s a huge range of petrol and diesel engines on offer with the SEAT Ateca, although you’d need to look elsewhere if you want a hybrid variant. You can also choose from manual and automatic gearboxes with the Ateca as well as two- or four-wheel drive. We’d only opt for the latter if you really need it - sure, it’s useful when towing trailers out of muddy fields, but it means quite a significant drop in fuel economy.
Buy wisely and the SEAT Ateca will be a very affordable car to run. Petrol models return up to early-40s mpg, while the most efficient diesels should be good for mid-50s in the real world. It won’t cost a lost to tax and insure, while fairly punchy depreciation means the Ateca represents particularly good value for money on the used market.
The SEAT Ateca’s pretty easy to drive thanks to good visibility and fairly compact dimensions (not to mention parking sensors and cameras on high-spec models). It also handles better than the Skoda Karoq - remaining very composed during cornering, although the ride is a little on the firm side, especially if you buy one with big alloy wheels.
You’re not going to regret buying a SEAT Ateca. It’s one of the most competent all-rounders in its class, with efficient engines and a strong model line-up. Our main reservation is that the Skoda Karoq is a slightly more comfortable choice, and a bit more practical, too.
Is the SEAT Ateca right for you?
If you want a stylish yet incredibly competent family SUV, the SEAT Ateca could be the car for you. It’s good to drive, cheap to run and is likely to be a reliable choice. Look elsewhere if you want a forgiving suspension setup, but small wheels help in this regard.
What other cars are similar to the SEAT Ateca?
There’s no shortage of very competent alternatives to the SEAT Ateca. You should also look at the Skoda Karoq (which is closely related to the Ateca), and the slightly more premium Volkswagen Tiguan. We also rate the quirky Peugeot 3008 while the Ford Kuga is also a very competent choice. Of course, there’s also the ever-popular Nissan Qashqai, while the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage both come with a long warranty.
If you sit inside an Ateca back-to-back with the new Leon, the Ateca's cabin might look a little dated but it's functional. The infotainment screen is positioned in the centre of the dashboard, usefully high up (ideal for glancing at while driving without having to take your eyes off the road for too long). There's a chunky centre console with plenty of useful buttons for everything from starting the engine to adjusting the temperature of the climate control, while a rotary dial lets you flick between drive modes.
The SEAT Ateca is one of the most comfortable SUVs on the market, with loads of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel. Adjustable lumbar support is standard across the range, meaning you should reach your destination without any major aches or pains.
Ambient lighting is standard across the range, while SEAT Ateca FR and FR Sport feature sports seats that really look the part. Leather is standard on higher-spec models, too.
Infotainment: Touchscreen, USB, nav and stereo in the SEAT Ateca
Earlier Ateca models come with an eight-inch media system (including navigation on most trim levels), which is easy to use. It’s a touchscreen display, with useful shortcut buttons and quick responses to inputs. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, too, meaning you can mirror apps from your phone.
Later models come with bigger 8.25- or 9.2-inch (from SE Technology upwards) displays that look a bit smarter but rely on touch-sensitive (rather than actual, physical) buttons as shortcuts. This feels like a backwards step, to us, but it's nothing you won't get used to with time.
High-spec SEAT Ateca models also come with a 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit instead of conventional dials. This looks pretty snazzy, while also being clear to read and easy to customise.
Space and practicality: SEAT Ateca boot space
In terms of space, the SEAT Ateca scores pretty well. Access to the front is easy thanks to wide-opening front doors and a high seating position. There’s plenty of adjustment in the driver’s seat and steering wheel, too.
In the back, there’s more room than in a Nissan Qashqai, with impressive head- and legroom. The doors open nice and wide, while ISOFIX child-seat mounting points make life easier for parents. Three adults will find space in the back a little tight (a Citroen C5 Aircross is better at that kind of thing), but two will be more than happy.
Unfortunately, there’s no sliding rear bench, but the Ateca's boot space is pretty big anyway - with up to 510 litres of luggage space (485 litres in four-wheel-drive models). Access is good, too, thanks to a usefully square boot opening. High-spec models get an electric tailgate that opens by waving your foot underneath the rear bumper.
The Ateca is similar in size to most other family SUVs of this class, measuring just under 4.4m long and a little over 1.8m wide.
No, you don't buy an SUV to chuck around a race track or down a winding road, but the SEAT Ateca is certainly one of the most nimble cars in its class if you want your family motoring with an element of fun. It'll change direction eagerly, remaining impressively level during high-speed cornering and putting alternatives like the Skoda Karoq and Kia Sportage to shame. Even the Peugeot 3008, which handles very well, isn't as impressive as the Ateca.
The steering is excellent, giving you enough feedback to reassure you that you're not about to run out of grip. Most models (not the 1.0-litre) come with SEAT's drive profile system which, at the touch of the button, will add a bit of weight to the steering to make it feel that bit sportier.
If you regularly drive in slippery conditions, you might want to look for an Ateca with four-wheel drive. It won't be necessary for the majority of drivers, though – the standard two-wheel-drive Ateca will grip the road eagerly, and a set of winter tyres makes a huge difference in cold weather.
In terms of ride quality, the Ateca's sporting bent means it is a bit firmer than alternatives. It's hardly uncomfortable, though, and the lower-spec models with smaller alloy wheels ride better than those fitted with 19-inch rims.
What engines and gearboxes are available in the SEAT Ateca?
Petrol offerings include 1.0-, 1.5- and 2.0-litre units. The entry-level 1.0-litre is surprisingly eager considering its capacity, so don’t dismiss it right away. That said, if you do a lot of out-of-town driving, you’d probably be better looking for a 1.5. This replaced the earlier 1.4-litre engine (although they’re much of a muchness for performance, really), and is sold with a choice of manual or DSG automatic gearboxes.
The 2.0-litre TSI is good fun but sells in limited numbers due to its appetite for unleaded. This isn’t helped by the fact that it only comes with four-wheel drive and the automatic gearbox. If you want a fast Ateca, you’d be better looking at the hot Cupra Ateca (which we’ve covered elsewhere).
There’s a 1.6-litre diesel if you really want a frugal Ateca, but most buyers will be better with one of the gruntier 2.0-litre models. The 150PS 2.0 TDI is a popular choice, although the 2.0 TDI 190 will appeal to caravanners (especially as, like the top-spec petrol, it comes with an auto gearbox and four-wheel drive). The diesels, along with the most powerful petrol, were discontinued later on on the Ateca's life.
Refinement and noise levels
Considering its fairly conventional engine options (i.e. you can't get an electric or hybrid model), the Ateca is a very refined choice. The 1.5-litre, in particular, is whisper-quiet, while the 1.0-litre is much less vocal than similar three-cylinder units used in rival vehicles.
You'll notice more noise from the engine bay with the diesel engines but, even so, it's not going to ruin your day. There's very little vibration that makes its way into the cabin and, once you're up to motorway speed, the Ateca's diesel engines don't sound too gruff at all.
Of course, the Ateca's higher ride height and blunt shape compared to the SEAT Leon hatch means there's a little more wind noise, but it's nothing that the radio won't drown out. There's not a great deal of road noise, either, especially if you avoid the bigger alloy wheels.
Safety equipment: How safe is the SEAT Ateca?
If you're buying a new family car like the SEAT Ateca, safety will be high on your wish list. We're pleased to report that the SEAT Ateca achieved a five-star rating when it was crash-tested by independent body, Euro NCAP, in 2016. That includes impressive 93% scores for adult occupants and 84% for children. However, Euro NCAP ratings only apply for a period of five years due to ever-improving safety standards, so this rating has now expired.
All models come with Front Assist autonomous emergency braking, meaning the car can apply the brakes if it detects an impending collision. There's a tiredness recognition system fitted as standard across the range, as well as ISOFIX child seat mounting points on the outer rear seats. XPerience and XPerience Lux models come with the Safe & Driving Pack, which includes predictive adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, lane assist, traffic sign recognition and high beam control.
The 2.0 TDI 150 can officially do up to 52.3mpg, or 40.3mpg with the automatic transmission (and 44.1mpg with 4Drive). The most powerful diesel, the 2.0 TDI 190 (which is only available with the DSG gearbox and 4Drive) returns up to 40.9mpg depending on specification.
In terms of petrols, the 115PS 1.0-litre engine returns up to 43.5mpg - but the 150PS 1.5-litre is actually more efficient, thanks to its Active Cylinder Technology. This can return up to 44.1mpg (again, dependent on trim level). With the DSG automatic gearbox, this drops to 42.8mpg. With the DSG gearbox and four-wheel drive as standard, the 2.0 TSI is quite thirsty - achieving a maximum of 33.6mpg in combined fuel economy tests.
How reliable is the SEAT Ateca?
The SEAT Ateca has proved reasonably good for reliability, with a reliability rating of 9.2 in the 2020 HonestJohn Satisfaction Index. The similar Skoda Karoq scored 9.5 with owners. As with many Volkswagen Group products, the Ateca suffered with issues surrounding the 1.5 TSI engine, which were widespread across several makes and models.
However, aside from that we've not had many reports of issues with the SEAT Ateca, so you should be able to buy with confidence.
Insurance groups and costs
SEAT Ateca insurance groups range from 7 to 24, which means it shouldn't cost any more than rivals to insure. An insurance comparison website provided us with a very reasonable quote of £283/year to insure a 40-year-old teacher on a three-year-old Ateca SE with the 1.0-litre TSI engine. Obviously, insurance prices are heavily influenced by your personal circumstances, so it's a good idea to get a quote or two before buying a new car.
VED car tax: What is the annual road tax on a SEAT Ateca?
You’ll pay a flat rate of £180 a year in VED (car tax) for all Atecas registered since 1 April 2017. Earlier models are taxed based on their CO2 emissions.
Impressive value-for-money has always been part of the SEAT Ateca's appeal, and the even better news is that, because it's been around for a long old time now, so there are lots of used examples out there that have simply plummeted in price.
New car prices start at around £28,000 these days, but browse our listings, and the cheapest used examples come in at a little over £10,000. Granted, these do have some fairly hefty mileages under thier wheels, but you don't have to pay a lot more for a nice clean car in an appealing spec with more sensible figures on the odometer.
Trim levels and standard equipment
The basic SEAT Ateca SE comes with things like 17-inch alloy wheels, a choice of drive modes and an eight-inch media system (including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). Cruise control is also standard, as well as the self-parking park assist feature (with front and rear parking sensors).
The SEAT Ateca SE Technology adds navigation to the eight-inch media display as well as DAB radio. It also comes with LED head and tail lights, chrome roof rails, chrome window trim and welcome light silhouettes on the door mirrors.
The stylish SEAT Ateca FR adds various exterior highlights including tinted rear windows, a rear spoiler and twin exhaust pipes. It also gets the eight-inch navigation system, as well as aluminium pedals and interior ambient lighting. There are front sport seats finished in Microsuede, while the Convenience pack is standard (with auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto-headlights and rain-sensing wipers).
The sporty SEAT Ateca FR Sport comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, the desirable digital instrument display and leather sports seats (with an electric driver’s seat). The Winter pack is also standard, with heated front seats, headlight washers as well as a wash water level indicator.
The SEAT Ateca FR Black Edition comes with 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels, various other gloss black exterior highlights (including door mirrors, roof rails and window trim), and interior detailing in black.
The high-spec SEAT Ateca Xcellence comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, front comfort seats in Microsuede trim, illuminated door sills and LED headlights. Adaptive cruise control is standard, as well as a heated windscreen, rear-view camera and wireless phone charger. There’s keyless entry and go, as well as the Convenience pack.
Topping the range is the SEAT Ateca Xcellence Lux. This comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, the digital cockpit and front sports seats in leather upholstery. There’s an electric tailgate, top-view camera and Winter pack. The Advanced Driving Assistance pack is standard too - with high-beam assist, lane assist and blind-spot detection.
Ask the heycar experts: common questions
Subscribe to our news
Keep me updated by email with the latest advice, news and offers from heycar.