The most powerful petrol Ateca yet puts the ‘sport’ into SUV – sort of
SUV stands for sport utility vehicle, which some might think a little odd as just about every SUV under £40,000 seems about as sporty as a pair of socks.
Seat is attempting to address this gap between expectation and reality with the new Ateca FR 2.0 TSI 4Drive 190. Its 2.0-litre 187bhp turbo petrol engine claims to do the 0-62mph run in a not-hanging-about 7.9 seconds, helped by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive.
The chassis and suspension are no different to other 4WD Atecas, but you do get some added sporting value out of the FR bodykit and posher alloys. Does it all add up to a cut-price Porsche Macan Turbo though?
Seat Ateca 2.0 TSI 190 4Drive FR
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Torque: 236lb ft
Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic
Top speed: 132mph
CO2, tax band: 159g/km, 30%
We’ll answer that in a minute. Let’s start with a bit of a head-scratcher. You can only get this 2.0-litre petrol engine in FR trim, so you’d think it would be the Ateca range’s top dog in terms of performance. It’s not. The heavier but torquier 187bhp TDI diesel model accelerates harder and pulls more strongly from 2000rpm, whereas you have to stretch the TSI out to the ends of its envelope to cover ground as swiftly. There’s no manual gearbox option here: the automatic is a smooth operator at all speeds other than low ones, when it can be indecisive.
Overall, the TSI never really feels downright quick. It does feel smoother than the equivalent diesel though, with better suppression of vibes through the steering wheel and pedals and extra quietness generally, whether it’s at idle, on a cruise, or being goosed.
The downside with the petrol Ateca will almost certainly be higher running costs. Officially, the average is over 40mpg, but low 30s are more likely if you give the car full rein. Even though it emits a lot more carbon than the equivalent diesel, the additional benefit-in-kind tax for business users is just 1 per cent.
Our test vehicle was running on optional 19-inch wheels. They look smashing but they’ll also lay your spine open to some smashing if you don’t avoid Britain’s more spectacular road craters. Remember that Atecas (particularly the 4WD models) start off with a hardish ride. Big wheels make that worse.
They do boost the already generous grip levels in enthusiastic driving, however. FR Seats comes with variable ratio steering that takes a little getting used to. The faster you go, the more you have to turn the wheel to get around bends. It actually works well in practice, especially in town where the extra steering speed makes light work of tight maneouvres. You do lose some front-wheel feedback, but the Ateca will still run rings around many hatchbacks. It hardly rolls at all, it’s very agile for a tall SUV, and traction through the four-wheel drive system is always reassuring.
Inside, Alcantara-covered sports seats, tinted rear windows and technicolour ambient LED lighting blend in well with a leather steering wheel, FR badging and meaty alloy pedals. Other than that, the cabin is standard Ateca, which means lots of everyday practicality.
Overall then, this TSI 190 isn’t the Ateca Cupra some of us may have been hoping for. It’s lively enough, but the diesel will deliver the same or better real-world performance and cost you less in the process. If you must have petrol, we’d point you in the direction of the less expensive, less thirsty, and more comfortable 1.4 TSI.