Seat’s smashing small SUV, made a bit sportier
For some, an SUV is now a default new car choice. But what about those who still yearn for a bit of the sporty satisfaction they used to get from their old hot hatches? Enter Seat, a maker well known for its hot Cupra and FR models, which is now giving its latest Ateca SUV the sports treatment.
We already know the Ateca is fun to drive, already much sportier than many would expect. The FR treatment is thus aimed at accentuating this further, with body-colour wheelarches, flashier alloys and a chunky body kit. The only mechanical change is the fitment of a faster, more responsive steering system.
Although the FR will be offered with a new 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, we’re testing it here in the more real-world 148bhp 1.4-litre TSI turbo. This turns out a perfectly decent 0-60mph time of 8.4 seconds, and pulls eagerly in all gears just so long as the revs are over 1500rpm.
Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 FR
Engine: 41.4-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol
Torque: 184lb ft
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 125mph
Official economy: 52.3mpg
CO2, tax band: 123g/km, 23%
The FR comes in front-wheel drive guise; you can also get a couple of 2.0-litre turbodiesels which offer four-wheel drive – but unless you really need the extra traction, we wouldn’t bother. This one is fine as it is.
Particularly as it’s such good fun around twisting roads. Unlike some SUVs, you don’t need armfuls of steering lock to fight it around corners, something aided here by the ‘progressive’ steering that turns the wheels faster as you apply more steering lock. With its well-weighted feel, it’s a good setup that adds to the Ateca’s agility.
The only gripe we have is one familiar to drivers of sportier cars – a stiff ride. It’s particularly noticeable around town, where even the standard 18-inch wheels jiggle, albeit not as much as its Audi Q2 sister car. For this reason, even though they look better, we’d avoid the 19-inch optional wheels.
Pleasingly, a great set of spirts seats are standard inside. They are much more hip-hugging than standard models. FR cars also get aluminium pedals, although the changes are otherwise minimal – not that this is a bad thing, because the interior is robust and roomy enough, with decent space in the rear. The boot is OK too, although not quite a match for a Nissan Qashqai.
Sporty SUVs don’t always work, but this Ateca FR does – very well indeed. The engine is a gem, the styling tweaks give it added dash and the slightly more agile drive makes it as much fun as ever behind the wheel. Indeed, as it’s likely to be the model most sought-after by used car buyers, lower depreciation means there’s a running costs bonus from choosing it too. What’s not to like?