Seat Ateca FR 4Drive - well poised proposition
Seat has recently facelifted the Ateca range, and locally the line-up has been rationalised, so there are now just the two offerings, FR and FR 4Drive.
Formerly there was a model that kicked things off at under $40k but now the least expensive version is the FR at $46,900.
We’ve recently been helming the FR 4Drive and it seems like rather a solid half-way house between the base model and the sportier Cupra variant, in terms of value and dynamics. Normally, it’s $52,900 but in this case, with the Urban options pack, $1750 19-inch wheels and $700 for the red paint, the bottom line was pumped to $57,450 before on road costs.
The Urban pack comprises adaptive cruise control, self parking with front parking sensors, a top view camera and wireless phone charger, the bundle costing $2100, evidently an overall saving of $900. However, adaptive cruise is available for $400 alone.
There are other packs available, both with a panoramic sunroof, seat and wheel heating and different rim size upgrades (18- or 19-inches, $2500-$3000). Yet more options include a premium BeatsAudio sound system ($950) and powered leather seats ($2250).
The facelift is a fairly nominal affair externally, limited to a new grille, grey mirror caps, dynamic indicators, full LED lighting and six new alloy designs. Inside there are freshened instruments, a new wheel and upholstery, and a bigger 9.2-inch infotainment touchscreen that shows three different data sets simultaneously. I’m not much of a fan of the cryptic images alluding to radio, phone etc, but you commit these to memory eventually.
The view from the reversing camera is vivid, accompanied by an overhead shot in this particular vehicle. Instruments are highly legible, and you can option up digital, configurable ones at a cost ($900). Trip data are easy to scroll through, literally, using a rotary knob. We determined that fuel economy ranged from about 6.0 (extra urban) to 10L/100km (urban). Tall gearing has the engine turning an easy 1650rpm in top at 100km/h. Given how hasty this is the fuel use doesn’t seem too bad to us.
Around town in the default Normal drive mode, this pulls well and effortlessly, as you expect with 320Nm of twist from 1450rpm. There’s the usual amount of turbo lag off the mark. Pulling back once on the shift lever selects Sport transmission mode and that largely nullifies the soft start. You can just ease back to D once you’re up to speed. On trips and the like, Sport mode adds zing (it automatically selects Sport transmission mode), but the default Normal mode is also fine on rural roads.
As before, we were taken with the dynamics of the FR 4Drive, only they’re even better with Eagle F1 rubber, at no great expense in terms of road roar (much the same as the Turanzas). There’s no adaptive damping here - it can be had for $1800 if you ask nicely - but it really isn’t missed, as the extended travel Mac strut/multilink set-up is sweetly balanced, the ride forgiving, cornering capable, especially with the torque vectoring by brake XDS set-up on board; you have to be pushing and pushing to uncover much in the way of understeer. Steering is precise and quick, and the brakes are overachievers, with three consecutive stops from 100 measuring in the 32m bracket. Being lightweight helps, and it feels lithe and agile on the go. So this is one of more dynamically sorted compact family SUVs about, as Seat takes a sporting approach to its chassis set-up.
It’s also not short on space, with good room in the rear for two lanky types, and luggage capacity quoted at 485-1579L. We lined the hold and easily stacked 0.66m3 of firewood after split folding the rear seats which had no noticeable impact on ride height or suspension travel. That’s something you wouldn’t conceive of with a comparably priced sedan, and shows why the trend to this type of impossibly practical vehicle in New Zealand shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.
Other bits we liked included the Hola welcome in the puddle lamps (saying Hola Hola summons the copilot too), the great all-round visibility, the cubby under the driver’s seat for concealing your stuff, gesture control for the automated tailgate and the multitude of radio station presets, making music choice one-touch quick and easy. And there are wireless tech updates for your phone, along with USB-C charge points.
There’s serious competition in this space at present, including two others also from the VW Group (Karoq and Tiguan) so it does pay to shop around. But if it’s pace and poise you’re after in an SUV the FR4 is well worth a look.
Model Seat Ateca FR 4Drive Price $52,900
Engine 1984cc, IL4, T/DI, 140kW/320Nm
Transmission 7-speed twin-clutch, on-demand AWD
Vitals 7.21sec 0-100km/h, 6.9L/100km, 156g/km, 58.9kg