Head to head: Seat Ateca v VW Tiguan

Head to head: Seat Ateca v VW Tiguan
Head to head: Seat Ateca v VW Tiguan

These small SUVs share many of their underpinnings, but which is best?

The VW Group produces a great selection of small SUVs, and thanks to their many shared components the Seat Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan are more than mere kissing cousins. They each take a very different approach to the job, however; which does it best?

Driving experience

Seat Ateca 2.0 TDI 190 4Drive Xcellence auto

Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Price: £30,795
Power: 187bhp
Torque: 295lb ft
0-60mph: 7.3sec
Top speed: 132mph
Fuel economy: 53.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 135g/km

Our test models share the group’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel, with the Seat version making 187bhp against the VW’s 148bhp. Those 39 extra horses make the most of the Ateca’s lighter weight, giving the Spanish car a 0-60mph performance of 7.3 seconds –nearly two seconds faster than its rival. It feels sportier on the road, too, and its more flexible engine makes for easier overtakes and better low-down pull, even with a full complement of people and kit on board. While the VW isn’t exactly slow, it has to be worked harder to keep up the pace.

The Seat’s remarkably car-like handling backs up that more vigorous performance, with the car gripping superbly and staying flat even when carving through fast bends. The fun factor is slightly offset by a firm ride, though; you should stick with the standard 18-inch alloys rather than choose the optional 19-inch rims if you want to alleviate this.

Our Tiguan’s optional adaptive dampers are well worth the extra £810, but even if you don’t opt for them the VW rides more sedately and comfortably than its rival, which makes it a more relaxing long-distance companion in that sense. Its handling is more SUV-like than the Seat’s, however, with more body roll through corners. Meanwhile, both cars are surprisingly competent off-road, even if most owners won’t venture that far.

Interior

Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI 150 4Motion SE Navigation auto

Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Price: £31,960
Power: 148bhp
Torque: 251lb ft
0-60mph: 9.1sec
Top speed: 124mph
Fuel economy: 49.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 149g/km

Inside, each offers plenty of comfort. More premium materials give the Tiguan a marginally better finish, but both feel great quality. Parking sensors front and rear aid visibility out. As standard, both models have the same-sized infotainment set-up, although our Ateca boasted the £930 Navigation System Plus complete with 3D, a 10GB hard drive, USB port and an upgraded stereo. The Tiguan SE Nav’s stock set-up works as well, with equally good smartphone connectivity. It has just a slight edge for usability. The main differences between the two cabins are that the Tiguan has a sliding rear bench seat, giving more flexible passenger/luggage options.

Running costs

The Seat’s £1200-cheaper list price advantage comes down to around £300 after haggling for the VW, while leasing and PCP deals favour the Tiguan. Business buyer will benefit more from the tax advantages of the Seat’s lower emissions, though – despite that higher power output.

Verdict

When we’re looking at lower-spec models, of the two models we prefer the Ateca in 1.4-litre petrol guise. However, ramping up to the £30k mark switches the balance, which means the Tiguan wins this test. It feels the more premium of the pair, with a more flexible and practical cabin, plus a better, more comfortable drive and ride.

At this price point, the Seat is a less relaxing car in which to cover long distances, and its price is slightly too high for its cabin quality. While the VW isn’t exactly cheap, we think it’s better value here.

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