SEAT Ateca FR
FIRST DRIVE We try the sportiest Ateca available, until the Cupra arrives
Hottest version of SUV yet, plus Leon Cupra R driven in UK
SEAT now offers its Ateca SUV with a choice of six engines, two gearboxes and either front or four-wheel drive. On top of that there are five trim levels and countless equipment packages, and if that’s not enough, a 296bhp Cupra version is on the way, too.
Those wondering what a fully-laden, top-of-the-range SEAT SUV would look like need wonder no more – because the car you see here is exactly that. Fitted with the most powerful 2.0 TSI petrol engine, a DSG gearbox and allwheel drive, it comes packed with loads of clever kit and convenient features.
The flagship motor is available either in Xcellence or FR trims. The latter was added to the Ateca range last summer, and endows the SUV with a sportier stance, stiffer suspension and a lower ride height, as well as body-coloured cladding and 18-inch alloys. At £30,090 it’s actually £330 (or a couple of quid per month) less than the Xcellence, but still has LED lights and an eight-inch screen.
But until the Cupra arrives later this year, this 187bhp car is the closest we’ll get to a hot Spanish SUV. Does it bode well for the firm’s first standalone sport model, or is SEAT better off sticking to its bread and butter?
Well, while it won’t set your trousers on fire, the 2.0 TSI offers an adequate turn of pace – sprinting from 0-62mph in a respectable 7.9 seconds. But like many of the VW Group’s more expensive models, the DSG holds it back, making it feel slower than the figures suggest.
In fact, the 148bhp 1.4 TSI manual we tried previously (Issue 1,490) felt just as quick despite its power deficit and price advantage. That car does 0-62mph in a still-sprightly 8.5 seconds, while its manual box made it more predictable – especially around town.
Pleasingly, however, both are good to drive, with precise steering, very little body roll and decent refinement. The ride is a little firm, especially compared with rivals like the Peugeot 3008 GT Line, but it’s far from uncomfortable. If you like your crossover to handle like a coupé, the grippy 4Drive SEAT is a top pick.
On the motorway, the 2.0 TSI settles into a hushed cruise with no noticeable engine noise. There’s lots of adjustment in the supportive seats, while visibility is good, too. Of course, the roomy cabin is unchanged, with enough space for four adults to sit comfortably.
The biggest issue for many potential buyers will be how much this powerful petrol model costs to run. Thanks to its high output, standard-fit four-wheeldrive system and automatic box, the 2.0-litre TSI claims only 40.4mpg. In our time with the car we managed just 32mpg – ensuring regular fill-ups and hefty fuel bills. Relatively high emissions make it a pricier company car than the less compromised £25,290 1.4 TSI FR, too.
Ateca is refined at cruising speeds, and performs reasonably, although the DSG auto blunts its pace