Are SUVs steadily taking over the UK? They’re certainly still gaining ground, as manufacturers pump more models out into each sub-segment of the market – some even heralded as crossover SUVs when they are little more than a small hatchback with plastic wheelarches and raised suspension.
Thankfully, the Seat Ateca, which recently joined AM’s long-term test fleet, does not fall into that category. An SUV by design, the Ateca has given Seat dealers something to smile about, as just more than 10,000 left showrooms in 2017, its first full year on sale. Almost every one was incremental volume for the brand, as Seat’s new car registrations grew 8,674 units year-on-year to 56,130.
The Ateca we are using best suits consumers who head into the countryside at weekends – it’s a range-topping derivative with 4Drive permanent all-wheel drive and an electric drive mode selector, which alters the sensitivity of the traction control when driving on gravel, mud or snow. While it doesn’t give the same go-anywhere impression of a Land Rover Discovery, the Ateca’s off-road credentials and two-tonne towing ability may win it some favour with caravan and sailing enthusiasts.
Our car comes with a lot of value for the price, as it needs to compete against rivals with more prestigious badges. Standard kit includes man-made leather upholstery, heated front seats, a wireless phone charger, reversing camera, keyless entry and start and an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity. It also has a ‘ski hatch’ in the rear seat, which my children find useful to peek at our dogs in the boot.
Also in Seat dealers’ favour is the clutch of awards it has received since launch, from What Car?, Top Gear magazine and Honest John.
Seat has assembled commonly specified options into packs for easy customer configuration and order. Examples that are great value are a sound pack, which adds a space saver spare wheel, more speakers and a subwoofer for £375, and an advanced driving assistance pack, which includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane assist and high beam assist, all for £630. Adding these would create a premium-level SUV that undercuts true premium rivals – the Volvo XC60 for example – by several thousand pounds.
It’s a compelling product. As long as consumers are happy with that Seat badge.