• 2016 Seat Ateca

Seat’s first venture into the crossover market

In many ways, Seat is to the Volkswagen Group what Opel is to General Motors: a bottomless pit. Well, maybe Seat is doing a little better than the German brand, but it’s struggling to make a profit for quite a few years now. Given the financial troubles, it’s no surprise that the Spanish company has decided to jump on the crossover bandwagon. Having unveiled the 20V20 and Leon Cross Sport concepts in 2015, Seat has finally introduced its first-ever production SUV. Dubbed Ateca and based on the same MQB oily bits that underpin most Volkswagen Group crossovers, this people hauler is slightly smaller than the Tiguan and aimed at the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, and Hyundai Tucson.

Described as "Seat’s next pillar following the successful Leon and Ibiza," the Ateca is a crucial model to the Spanish brand, which predicts that crossover sales in Western Europe will grow by 25 percent over the next few years. It’s easy to imagine why this vehicle is so important...

The Ateca will arrive in European dealerships this spring with a wide range of gasoline and diesel engines under the hood. Much like the Tiguan, it will be sold with either front- or all-wheel drive and an optional dual-clutch DSG transmission. But, unlike its German sibling, the Ateca won’t cross the pond to the U.S., where Seat products aren’t available.

Will the Ateca have what it takes to give its Japanese and European rivals a run for their money on the Old Continent? Keep reading to find out.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Seat Ateca.


2016 Seat Ateca High Resolution Exterior
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Design-wise, the Ateca is definitely a Seat. The crossover blends styling cues from both the Leon Cross Sport and 20V20 concepts and mixes them with a shape that’s very similar to the Tiguan. Granted, the Ateca is 130 mm (five inches) shorter than the Volkswagen at 4,360 mm (171.6 inches), but the difference is far from noticeable. On the other hand, the Ateca is by far the more attractive crossover of the two thanks to its Leon-inspired features and overall sportier stance.

Both the headlamps and grille are similar, with slight differences in the LED pattern and the mesh.

Up front, it seems that Seat opted to borrow the upper fascia from the Leon Cross Sport. Both the headlamps and grille are similar, with slight differences in the LED pattern and the mesh. Down below, the bumper seems to have taken inspiration from the 20V20 concept due to its larger trapezoidal opening and more rugged foglamp surrounds.

Around back, the Ateca is a significantly milder interpretation of the 20V20 concept. The bumper is much simpler by design, while the twin exhaust configuration has been replaced by a dual layout with round pipes. Unlike both the 20V20 and Leon Cross Sport concepts, the Ateca doesn’t feature a trapezoidal recess below the tailgate. Both the taillights and the spoiler are in line with current Seat products and, except for the rugged bumper, the Ateca’s rear end can easily pass as a perched-up Leon.

Overall, Seat did a tremendous job with its first SUV. The Ateca blends seamlessly into the current lineup and exudes the kind of sportiness most of its rivals can’t brag about.


2016 Seat Ateca High Resolution Interior
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The interior of the Ateca looks awfully familiar and that’s because it is heavily based on the Leon’s. The dashboard layout is pretty much the same, with large A/C vents at each corner and a touchscreen integrated into the center stack. Even the center consoles and the steering wheels are similar but, while the Leon gets a sportier wheel, the Ateca offers a bit more storage room around the gear shifter. Naturally, the crossover comes with a raised seating position and enhanced legroom and headroom in the front and rear. The more rugged door panels and thicker pillars will quickly remind you that you’re riding in an SUV.

Speaking of roominess, the Ateca comes with an impressive amount of luggage space in the trunk.

Speaking of roominess, the Ateca comes with an impressive amount of luggage space in the trunk. Front-wheel drive models offer up to 510 liters (18 cubic feet), while all-wheel drive versions can handle up to 485 liters (17 cubic feet). That’s 55 liters/two cubic feet (80 liters/2.8 cubic feet with 2WD) more than you get with the Nissan Qashqai, which is a hair longer. Impressive!

As far as convenience features go, the Ateca provides a high level of connectivity. The crossover is equipped with the latest generation of Easy Connect infotainment, Seat Full Link, Seat Connect App, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and wireless smartphone charging. All these features can be accessed via the eight-inch screen and the Connectivity Box in the center console.


2016 Seat Ateca High Resolution Exterior
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Motivation for the Ateca comes from the same engines available in the Leon, which are shared with a range of Volkswagen, Audi, and Skoda vehicles. The gasoline range begins with a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder rated at 113 horsepower. More oomph comes from the 1.4-liter, TSI rated at 148 horses. On the diesel front, the Ateca can be had with a 1.6-liter, TDI that generates 113 horsepower or a 2.0-liter, four-pot with either 148 or 187 horses. All-wheel drive is optional for the more powerful versions. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual or a dual-clutch DSG. CO2 emissions range between 112 and 141 g/km, while claimed average fuel economy is rated between 47 and 66 mpg on the European cycle.


2016 Seat Ateca High Resolution Exterior
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The Seat Ateca is a well equipped crossover in the safety department. Driver assistance systems include the Traffic Jam Assist, which enables the SUV to steer, accelerate, and brake automatically in heavy stop-and-go traffic. At higher speeds of up to 60 km/h, the system provides support with speed control and lane keeping. The Ateca also features the new Emergency Assist safety function, which issues a visual and then an acoustic warning if the driver remains inactive beyond a certain period. If there’s no reaction, the system issues a brief pulse of the brakes and eventually slows down to a standstill while staying in line. Other safety features include ACC with Front Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Traffic Alert, and Top View.


Prices for the Ateca aren’t yet available, but the Ateca should arrive with a competitive sticker against the Nissan Qashqai. My best guess is that the crossover will start from around £18,500 (about $26,440), which will put it on par with the Leon ST, priced from £18,695 (around $26,720). On the other hand, it will be significantly more affordable than the Leon X-Perience, which retails from £24,920 (about $35,615).


Nissan Qashqai

2015 - 2018 Nissan Qashqai
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Both stylish and sporty, the Nissan Qashqai is the leader of the compact crossover market in most European countries. Redesigned for the 2014 model year, the Qashqai employs Nissan’s updated styling language, a revised interior, and new technology. The Euro-spec model is sold with with five different engines. The gasoline lineup includes the 1.2-liter, DIG-T with 114 horsepower and 140 pound-feet, the 1.6-liter, DIG-T with 161 horses and 177 pound-feet, and a 2.0-liter with 148 horsepower and 148 pound-feet. Drivers who’d rather have a diesel under the hood can pick between the Renault-sourced, 1.5-liter, dCi with 108 horsepower and 192 pound-feet or the 1.6-liter, dCi with 129 horses and 236 pound-feet. All-wheel drive is optional for the range-topping diesel models, while gearbox choices include a six-speed manual and a CVT. The Qashqai retails from £18,545 (about $26,510).

Find out more about the Nissan Qashqai here.

Kia Sportage

2017 Kia Sportage High Resolution Exterior
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The Sportage just received a major makeover for the 2016 model year, adopting Kia’s new design language, a more upscale interior, and updated gasoline and diesel engines. In Europe, customers can have the 1.6-liter, turbo-four, gasoline unit with either 130 horsepower and 119 pound-feet or 174 horses and 195 pound-feet. Moving over to diesels, there’s the 1.7-liter rated at 113 horsepower and 207 pound-feet and the 2.0-liter, four-banger with 134 horses and 275 pound-feet. Those in need of a more potent oil burner can go with the 184-horsepower and 295-pound-feet version of the 2.0-liter mill. Pricing for the new Kia Sportage starts from £17,995 (around $25,730).

Read more about the Kia Sportage here.


2016 Seat Ateca High Resolution Exterior
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Given Seat’s current financial circumstances, the Ateca is a more than welcomed addition to the lineup. The Spanish brand might not have the credentials of a full-fledged crossover manufacturer, but that no longer matters in today’s market, which gives just about anyone the opportunity to jump on the SUV bandwagon thanks to modular platforms that can be shared between several models in different segments. At first glance, the Ateca has everything it needs to become a popular choice. It’s versatile, has a sporty design, a modern interior, and plenty of engines to choose from. It might not be as fancy as its Tiguan-badged sibling, but the Ateca should be a significantly more affordable option with a good bang for the buck. Sure, it will take a while until it becomes an established player in a market packed with popular choices such as the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage, but it will most definitely help Seat find the financial stability it needs.

  • Leave it
    • Tough competition from Nissan and Kia
    • Lacks the cachet of its rivals
    • Likely to decrease Leon ST sales
Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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Press Release

SEAT presents its first SUV model. The new ATECA is a unique combination of distinctive design, dynamic driving fun, urban versatility and compelling utility. First-class connectivity, innovative assistance systems and highly efficient drives are among its technology highlights and make the ATECA one of the most innovative SUVs in the segment. Outstanding quality, precision production and very attractive value-for-money make the ATECA a true SEAT. Front and centre, however, is its agile, light-footed and precision driving fun – the ATECA makes every day and every kilometre that little bit more of an experience.

2016 Seat Ateca High Resolution Exterior
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“The SEAT ATECA is called to be our next brand pillar following the successful Leon and Ibiza. The SUV segment offers us enormous opportunities, as sales in Western Europe will grow by a 25%,” says Luca de Meo, Chairman of the Executive Committee of SEAT, S.A. “Moreover, the arrival of the SUV will be a key contributor to brand image improvement. That is our key challenge.”

When the SEAT ATECA commences advance sales this spring, it will already come in a wide range of variants. The choice of powerful turbocharged TSI petrol and TDI diesel engines spans from 85 kW / 115 PS to 140 kW / 190 PS, with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive, not to mention manual or dual-clutch DSG transmissions. The extensive array of technology options extends from full-LED headlamps through a broad portfolio of assistance systems, like the innovative traffic jam assist and the new Emergency Assist, to a package of latest-generation infotainment systems with 8-inch touchscreens and Full Link connectivity. Three equipment lines offer colours and top-quality materials to suit every taste, with the top-of-the-range being the ATECA XCELLENCE.

2016 Seat Ateca High Resolution Exterior
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“The ATECA is a pure emotional vehicle with a clear SEAT Design DNA and exceptional interior quality. In our first SUV we have put together an amazing package of technologies and innovations– delivering more safety and utility but, above all, the most dynamic ride possible and outstanding driving experience,” says Dr. Matthias Rabe, Vice President of SEAT, S.A. responsible for Research and Development. “We will surely set a whole new standard within the segment with the ATECA’s light-footed, precision handling, demonstrating amazing capabilities both on- and off-road.”

In keeping with SEAT tradition, the ATECA derives its name from Spanish geography. The Ateca village lies in the west of Saragossa in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula.

Design – 100 percent SEAT and yet 100 percent SUV

The ATECA’s design is utterly unmistakeable. As an SUV, too, the typical SEAT design language is a striking combination of dynamism and functionality. Many elements, like the trapezoidal grille, the side blisters with their minimum radii and maximum sharpness and the triangular light signatures, are typical of brand icons, such as the Leon. Yet every single detail has been carefully developed to the next level for the ATECA.

The front end of the ATECA is therefore 100 percent SEAT and yet 100 percent SUV. The large, high grille brims with self confidence, while the sharply defined lights and substantial air intakes leave no doubt as to the ATECA’s dynamic credentials. At the same time, the SUV maintains a muscular stance that exudes solidity and reliability.

Full-LED headlamps with a clear signature

2016 Seat Ateca High Resolution Exterior
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Typical SEAT features include the optional full-LED headlamps with their extremely pleasant light colour and excellent luminance. Combined with the triangular signature of the daytime running lights, the overall impact is utterly unmistakable. In the ATECA, the indicator lamps are also an integral part of this signature.

State-of-the-art technology and an emotional experience go hand-in-hand in the SEAT ATECA. One example is the “welcome light”. As soon as you unlock the doors, LEDs in the exterior mirrors illuminate the area close to the doors, projecting the ATECA’s name and silhouette onto the ground.

The side profile clearly conveys the dynamics and performance of the new SEAT. The precise lines with razor-sharp radii interact with sensually flowing forms, such as those around the lower door section, demonstrating not only the designers’ fine feel for form, but also the expertise of SEAT’s toolmakers and production specialists.

Interior conveys refined sporting character

The interior harmonises perfectly with the exterior design. The interior, too, combines refined elegant but still dynamic character with that unique feeling of solidity and safety so highly prized by SUV drivers. Key factors are the raised seating position as well as the clearly visible vehicle front end and solid door strips.

The cockpit has a horizontal line with a clear driver focus. The controls are grouped closely together, while the read outs, such as the infotainment display measuring up to 8 inches, are just a brief glance away. The high centre console is a further example of how well the ATECA combines the SUV sense of proximity and solidity with the sporty feeling of a shortened gearstick.

2016 Seat Ateca High Resolution Exterior
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Excellent use of space with plenty of room

At an exterior length of 4.36 metres, the ATECA offers the best use of space in the segment, with maximum interior length and a luggage compartment that holds 510 litres in its standard configuration or 485 litres in the versions with all-wheel drive. The bodyshell is outstanding not only for its wide-ranging versatility, but also for its intelligent lightweight design. Incredibly stiff, the ATECA is also among the lightest vehicles in its segment, which secures an agile driving experience not only for urban traffic conditions.

Technology – innovative highlights in the ATECA

Once the driver has stepped inside, a ring of light around the illuminated start button pulsates like a heartbeat – indicating the ATECA is all set for its next road-going adventure. The SEAT Drive Profile is on-hand for adapting the ATECA to the current driving situation, road conditions and personal preference.

The range of innovative driver assistance systems is extensive. One example is the Traffic Jam Assist: This assistance function makes progress in heavy stop-and-go traffic far more bearable. At full-blown “traffic jam speeds”, the ATECA steers, accelerates and brakes automatically within the system boundaries. At higher speeds of up to around 60 km/h, the system provides support with speed control and lane keeping. A new safety function is Emergency Assist: If the driver remains inactive beyond a certain period, the vehicle issues first a visual then an acoustic warning, followed finally by a brief pulse of the brakes. If there is still no reaction, the ATECA slows down to a standstill, while staying in lane. More technical keywords are ACC with Front Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Traffic Alert or Top View.

The highest level of connectivity

Connectivity, the constant connection with the digital world, is a major part of a modern, urban lifestyle for many people. The SEAT ATECA offers the very highest level of connectivity – with the latest generation of Easy Connect infotainment systems, SEAT Full Link and the exclusive SEAT ConnectApp: Media System plus, with its 8-inch screen, is the highlight, the Connectivity Box in the centre console of the SEAT ATECA for the first time enables Wireless Smartphone Charging. SEAT Full Link is the connectivity world for users of virtually all smartphones. Alongside MirrorLink, Full Link also incorporates the functions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2016 Seat Ateca High Resolution Exterior
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Dynamics – Unique driving fun

Extraordinary driving fun is at the core of the SEAT brand. The Leon in particular is a unique combination of precision and agility, comfort and safety, as confirmed by enthusiastic customer reactions and numerous comparison tests carried out by journalists across Europe. The ATECA is no less impressive when it comes to fulfilling this promising combination. With its compact character, powerful engines and perfectly tuned suspension, it offers performance and handling that sets a new benchmark among its SUV competitors. And it fits perfectly for an urban and versatile lifestyle.

The ATECA’s dynamic drive comes courtesy of a palette of state-of-the-art power units – all of them turbocharged. Ranging from 85 kW / 115 PS to 140 kW / 190 PS with outstanding torque figures across the board, they meet every possible performance desire. The array of diesel engines starts with the 1.6 TDI and 115 PS. The 2.0 TDI is available with 150 and 190 PS. Consumption figures range from 4.3 to 5.0 litres / 100 km, the CO2 figures from 112 to 131 grams / km. The entry level petrol engine is the 1.0 TSI with 115 PS. The 1.4 TSI comes with cylinder deactivation under partial load and produces 150 PS. The consumption and emissions figures for these engines are between 5.3 and 6.2 litres and between 123 to 141 grams.

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