Our Cars: SEAT Ateca 2.0 TDI Xcellence 4Drive DSG

21 November 2016: SEAT...what's it all about?

The Details

Current mileage 1741
Claimed economy 53.3mpg
Actual economy 38.5mpg

I like cars and that. Obviously. But I tend to think less about things like ride quality and cup holders and more about what cars mean. As in, the way we categorise cars in our collective consciousness and the qualities that we project upon both the cars themselves and their owners.

What do you think about people who drive old Vauxhalls, or big BMWs, or pick-up trucks? And why won't some even entertain the notion of buying a Skoda, still, while others swear by them? 

It's what a psychologist might call confirmation bias. It’s the reason why, no matter how many times I may tell someone that, say, the Volvo XC90 is the best new SUV there is on a price-against-ability basis (ability in the day-to-day luxury and comfort sense, that is), some people will say “pah! I’m never driving a Volvo,” and buy a BMW X5 instead. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that. To each their own.

Car manufacturers spend countless hours and millions of Euros trying to win the war with confirmation bias – they might tell you that they’re simply trying to make the best cars possible, but I'd bet my last sausage roll on the following: offer any manufacturer a secret recipe for making a car that’s cheap to produce but which magically projects a ‘BUY ME’ image onto the subconscious, and they’ll bite your greasy hand off for it - no matter how inept the actual car. 

SEAT Ateca -007

Any car reviewer (or reviewer of anything, for that matter) will tell you that the battle with confirmation bias is generally a losing one. It's why our opinions are dismissed with a special kind of fervour by the owners of particular cars, should we happen to think their choice isn't the BEST. CAR. EVER. 

And so to the Ateca. How many people *really* want a SEAT? How many people will, if you tell them that SEAT’s new crossover is actually fairly average, will say “I don’t give a monkey’s, I want one,” like they would with an Alfa Romeo crossover, say? A few might - people on this forum, for example - but not many.

Ironically, it was the Ateca’s general brilliance (it really is a very good middle-market crossover – the best one, in my opinion) that made me realise that SEAT has a real image problem. Regardless of how good it is, actually owning one is no great shakes. I haven’t connected with it yet, and I think it's because the SEAT brand doesn't say much about much at all. That’s pure narcissism, I know, but the person that claims to buy a car without thinking about the social virtues attached to it is probably a liar.

But there is hope, and the hope is that SEAT will keep making cars as good as this - if SEAT had just a couple more models like this one and the Leon in its lineup - cars that offer something as cheap as a Skoda but with much more flair, then SEAT will soon mean something again. There's already a small SUV (Nissan Juke sized) on the way, so it shouldn't be long now... 

« Earlier: Long-term test...GOLD     Later: A very confusing crossover »

Turns out the Ateca is the car our readers are most interested in. No surprise, really.
The Ateca is an Xcellent crossover, just do't get too Xcited with the spec...
The Ateca was comfortably Mark's favourite crossover until Peugeot did an amazing one, out of nowhere.
We're perplexed by some missing MPGs, but there is a SEAT-based solution, at least.
We're still struggling to really fall for our Ateca...but at least we know why, and what to do about it.
The Ateca is superb...so why don't I love it?
21 November 2016: SEAT...what's it all about?
What does owning a SEAT actually say about you?
One burst tyre = one free Our Cars update. And one large bill.
Our Ateca has the most powerful engine you can have with it. It's not quite matching expectations though...
Mark has history with SEAT, which means he's uniquely placed to...hope the Ateca is as good as the Leon. Like everyone else.

Value my car