Our Cars: SEAT Ateca 2.0 TDI Xcellence 4Drive DSG

9 December 2016: A love-hate relationship

The Details

Current mileage 2822
Claimed economy 53.3mpg
Actual economy 39.8mpg

If you read the last update you’ll know that I’m really struggling with loving the Ateca, even though I know it’s great. Pretty much how I feel about The Beatles and Ant from Ant and Dec.

That struggle continues, but I’m getting closer to what’s causing it – it’s the spec sheet. I’ve already talked about the particular problems with the drivetrain of our car, as well as going through them in detail in the review video, but it really is a catastrophic thorn in the Ateca’s side.

No matter how much time I spend with the car, I simply can’t fathom why SEAT setup the 2.0-litre TDI and DSG combination in this way. The calibration of the accelerator kills it – completely slack, clumsy and unresponsive.

The start-stop system makes it even worse, because it’s far too aggressive. It cuts the engine before the car actually comes to a halt, which wouldn’t be a huge problem if it didn’t cut the power steering too. What transpires is that often, when approaching a right turn, say, the engine and steering will cut out just as you’re about to nip through a gap in the traffic.

From there it goes: try to turn wheel, no movement, engine cuts back in, car goes nowhere, miss gap, curse. Loudly.

SEAT Ateca -054

It’s such a shame when the rest of the driving experience is so sorted out in that well engineered way that all SEATS are – the Ateca really is more involving to drive fast than a big lump of crossover should be.

For that reason, if you and thinking about buying an Ateca and asked for my advice, I’d urge you in the stongest possible terms to avoid this 190PS-DSG drivetrain. It’s sluggish, frustrating, poor on fuel and not worth the money.

What to buy? Well, that I’d like to find out. I suspect it’s the 1.4-litre TSI with a manual, or possibly a DSG if the throttle management software is calibrated differently – it remains one of the quickest shifting, most unobtrusive automatic gearboxes around.

And so I’m going to try one of those. It’s sort of like trying to fall in love with your wife again by going out with her sister, but still…

« Earlier: A very confusing crossover     Later: Where have my MPGs gone? »

Turns out the Ateca is the car our readers are most interested in. No surprise, really.
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9 December 2016: A love-hate relationship
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Value my car