It’s always good to visit nephews and nieces and the latest excursion was no exception.
First there was our niece’s new house to see but there was also a warm reception from our youngest nephew, not long turned 18, headhunted while still at school for a well-paid IT job, and six months later the proud owner of a six year old Seat Ibiza and already hankering after an Ibiza Cupra which he knows is beyond reach because insurance would be impossibly expensive.
However, as a newly-formed Seat fan he was pleased to see the Seat Ateca in which we arrived and enquired if it was the FR version, which it was. That brought a suitably appreciative response, although maybe he was secretly hoping it was the all singing, all-dancing limited edition Cupra, and then he was off out in his own car – there’s no holding back 18 year olds bitten by the driving bug!
It was interesting to see how the Ateca FR compared with last week’s Audi A4 S-line saloon as both shared the same 190 PS 2.0 litre petrol engine and seven speed DSG gearbox. The Seat might seem like more car but it cost substantially less than the Audi proving, perhaps, that it is possible to get something for free.
This exact version of the Ateca pulled off a real achievement by being selected as the winner in the 1,400 – 1,549 kgs category of the 2019 towcar of the year awards. The Ateca is actually rated to tow 1,900 kgs but that exceeds the formula that the Caravan and Camping Club, in association with Practical Caravan and What Car? magazine, likes to use to set to give a margin of safety.
The judges said that if they were asked to sum up the Ateca in one word it would be “controlled”. Whatever was asked of it, the Ateca delivered calmly but emphatically. It mastered the cornerstone of towing thanks to its stability at all speeds, from the fastest to the slowest and also during the lane change manoeuvre.
They also mentioned the firm ride, and we can attest to that. There are times when the car can seem harsh on rough surfaces but the upside is that the firmness in its ride pays dividends on more twisty routes where the car always feel strong and stable, an expression with which some people may be familiar but which is actually applicable in this case.
We share a pet hate with the towcar judges, and that’s when it comes to have a “gunk and go” kit in place of a proper spare wheel, which is a £115 option on the Ateca although it still only puts a space saver under the boot floor. There’s no substitute for a sound tyre in contact with the road, even when smaller than the rest, and it should also be remembered that once the gunk has been put in the tyre a repair for the puncture is no longer possible even if it had been a viable option before.
With its 132 mph top speed and 7.1 seconds 0-62 mph time, the Ateca is faster off the mark than the Audi, thanks no doubt to its transmission getting grip to all four wheels, but runs out of puff well ahead of the Audi’s flat out 150 mph. When it comes to fuel consumption the Seat, like the Audi, performs well compared with the WLTP test figures. It easily achieved 36 mpg against the official 32.5-33.6 mpg combined figure.
That’s a very fair result compared with the Audi’s 39.2 mpg, particularly taking into account the Ateca’s much bluffer front profile. The Audi makes up for this with a CO2 output of 137 g/km compared with the Ateca’s 156 g/km.
The Ateca is a roomy car and will easily carry five adults. Equally important is its generous boot capacity of 485 litres with the seats all in place, and that’s only up to the window line. Fit a protection grille and the car will almost double that to the roofline. Its high ride height also gives a great view out, perfect for keeping younger children entertained. What’s not to like?
Car: Seat Ateca FR 2.0 TSI 4Drive 190PS 7-speed DSG
Does it fit your ego...
0-62 mph: 7.1 secs
Top speed: 132 mph
PS: 190 @ 4,200 – 6,000 rpm
Torque: 320 Nm @ 1,500 – 4,000 rpm
...and your wallet...
Combined: 32.5-33.6 mpg
CO2 emissions: 156 g/km
Best bits: very capable SUV