Seat Ateca FR 4Drive review: a tiny taste of Cupra?
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Seat Ateca FR 4Drive
- Sprightly powertrain and chassis
- Infotainment and safety tech
- $14k cheaper than a Cupra Ateca
- Hard to pick from the cheaper FR 1.4
- On the smaller size of '"medium SUV"
- Update aside, the oldest model in the Seat lineup
The FR 4Drive is a bit of an unsung hero in the Seat Ateca world.
The entry FR, with a 1.4-litre engine and FWD, gets all the FR warpaint and looks pretty attractive at $46,900. At the other end of the scale, the Cupra Ateca is still the one we all want. With 221kW and 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds, it’s a true performance machine and still great value at $66,990.
So looking from the outside, it’s kind of hard to see a place for the $52,900 Seat Ateca FR 4Drive, which looks exactly like the entry model but isn’t anywhere near as fast or immediately desirable as the Cupra.
The solution is to drive it. The FR 4Drive picks up a healthy 140kW version of the Volkswagen Group’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre turbo engine, it runs an excellent AWD system (that’s the “4Drive” bit) and if you need the comfort of a wider context when buying into this Spanish brand, it’s part of the Volkswagen Group. The top FR has pretty much the same powertrain that’s in the top VW T-Roc R-Line.
Or the forthcoming Cupra Formentor V for that matter. So yes, Seat could give the styling and tweak and theoretically call the FR 4Drive a “Cupra Ateca V”. It’s not though. At least not yet.
More to the point, the Ateca is a very close relation to the Skoda Karoq (same back doors even!) and Volkswagen Tiguan. But VW Group is great at tweaking platforms to differentiate its brands; the Ateca is slightly smaller and noticeably sharper feeling than either of its siblings.
There’s just an extra fizz to the steering and chassis that puts a smile on your face. It’s brisk enough to get the best out of that chassis, too: 0-100km/h in 7.1 seconds, which makes it two seconds faster than the entry FR.
That performance is delivered in a different manner too, because the FR 4Drive has a dual-clutch seven-speed transmission (an automated manual, in other words), while the FR FWD runs an eight-speed automatic. It’s a nice gearbox too, but it has a less urgent feel.
The Ateca is one of Seat’s older models now – launched in 2016 and very much the catalyst to bring the brand to New Zealand. But a spruce-up for 2021 has given it a nice lift, with a new face, Porsche-alike badging and some upgraded infotainment tech.
But be warned that you’ll still probably have to add an option pack to your FR 4Drive.
Compared with the previous model, Seat has eased out some of the equipment you could previously take for granted (the excellent adaptive cruise control is no longer standard, for example) and instead created three option packs that cater to the most import kit: Urban ($2100 for adaptive cruise, top view camera, park assist/front cameras and wireless phone charging), Street 18 ($2500 panoramic roof, heated front seats/wheel, black interior roof and 18in machined wheels) and Street 19, which costs another $500 over Street 18 but adds (come on, you can guess this) 19in machined rims.
You definitely need the adaptive cruise and the wireless charging pad (assuming you have a newish QI-compatible phone), because the Ateca now has wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto: it’s easy to use and reliable, which is not always the case with some other (premium) brands we’ve experienced.
Seat will also sting you for special colours. The new Velvet Red of our test car (which is stunning, a metallic with flakes of gold) is an extra $700.
So your $52,900 Ateca is really going to cost at least $55,000, possibly more. But the FR 4Drive is still a fantastic small-medium SUV that looks sharp and is fun to drive. A tiny taste of the world of Cupra, even.
SEAT ATECA FR 4DRIVE
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four
GEARBOX: 7-speed automated dual clutch, AWD
0-100KM/H: 7.1 seconds
ECONOMY: 7.1l/100km (212g/km)