New Seat Ateca vs Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage Is the new Seat Ateca the car to finally end the Nissan Qashqai's reign at the top of the small SUV class? Or can the latest Kia Sportage spring a surprise? 5 Aug 2016 07:00 Last updated: 5 Aug 2016 09:40 The Contenders Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi 134 KX-3 List price £27,000 Target Price £25,623 Our first chance to try the 134bhp 2.0-litre diesel model, which gets four-wheel drive as standard Nissan Qashqai 1.6 CRDi 130 Tekna List price £27,160 Target Price £25,059 Our current class favourite, but you have to stick with front-wheel drive to keep the price competitive Seat Ateca 2.0 TDI 150 4Drive Xcellence List price £27,425 Target Price £27,425 Brand new Ateca has the most powerful engine and the version here we've lined here up has four-wheel drive The Nissan Qashqai has been king of small SUVs since its launch in 2014, picking up a What Car? Car of the Year award along the way and routinely brushing aside every new rival that has dared to mount a challenge. So, this latest attempt from Seat seems wildly optimistic, not least because the Spanish brand has about as much experience of building SUVs as it does making spaceships. Then again, the newAteca does share most of its oily bits with the latest VW Tiguan, a car we already know to be highly talented. Better still, the Ateca is almost £4000 cheaper than its Volkswagen cousin, which means you can have a range-topping four-wheel drive version for only fractionally more than an equivalent two-wheel drive Qashqai – our long-time favourite small SUV. Our third contender is the new Kia Sportage. We’ve already concluded it isn’t good enough to challenge for class honours in cheaper 1.7-litre diesel form, but can the gutsier 2.0-litre version complete any better? What are they like to drive? The Seat Ateca’s extra power gives it a healthy performance advantage over both rivals. Let its engine rev before changing up through the gears and the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage will soon be small spots in your rear-view mirror. However, if you try to accelerate from low revs in the higher gears it’s actually the Sportage that will whisk you up to speed fastest. That’s useful when you’re feeling lazy because it means you don’t need to keep changing gear to keep up with the ebb and flow of traffic. The Qashqai might have the smallest engine and the least grunt, but relatively short gearing means it never feels sluggish. It’s just a shame the engine gets rather raucous and you feel a few too many tremors coursing through the soles of your feet whenever you accelerate. The Ateca and Sportage have smoother and quieter engines, with the Seat isolating you from noise and vibration even better than its Korean rival. Small SUVs don’t usually offer much in the way of driving thrills, but the Ateca is something of a revelation. Let’s not go overboard; it’s no sports car, but it grips really well and doesn’t sway about anywhere near as much as you might expect through corners. The steering is quick and precise, too, and there’s enough feedback streaming to your fingertips to make country roads surprisingly good fun. Although less willing to change direction quickly, the Qashqai remains a pleasant thing to drive in most situations. Its slightly heavier steering provides plenty of reassurance when cornering at speed, although that extra resistance is less welcome when parking. Meanwhile, the Sportage keeps its body fairly upright through bends but it isn’t much fun to drive at all The blame lies squarely with the steering, which feels decidedly artificial in the way it weights up and tells you barely anything about what the front wheels are doing. 'The Ateca is surprisingly good fun on country roads' The Ateca and Qashqai have slicker gearshifts and more progressive brakes than the Sportage, too, although again it’s the Ateca that impresses most in these respects. Crucially, too, the Ateca has the most comfortable ride. It’s stays marginally more settled than the Qashqai over scruffy surfaces and potholes, yet is similarly supple and composed along fast A-roads and motorways. You're not going to mistake it for a luxury limousine, but the Ateca is definitely the most comfortable SUV in this price bracket. Relatively stiff suspension keeps the Sportage’s body neatly tied down over dips and crests, so your passengers aren’t likely to feel nauseous. Unfortunately, the payoff is a decidedly firm ride at all speeds; you’re jostled around continually – even along relatively smooth stretches of Tarmac – and sharp-edged bumps send jolts through the car. What are they like inside? With their high roofs and lofty driving positions, each of our trio feels like a proper SUV from behind the wheel. You look down on VW Golf and Ford Focus drivers, even though those cars are only slightly shorter and narrower, although pull up alongside a Range Rover and you’re swiftly put back in your place. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding a comfortable driving position in any of our contenders, either, and the fact that adjustable lumbar support comes as standard only enhances their mile-munching credentials. The Nissan Qashqai’s electrically adjustable driver’s seat is a real boon when you’re trying to set everything up just so, although the Seat Ateca’s front seats are actually the most comfortable and supportive. The Kia Sportage’s, meanwhile, could do with a bit more support around the shoulder area. Two adults will fit comfortably in the back of all three cars. Rear knee room is similar across the board and although the Ateca has loads more head room than its rivals, this will only really be appreciated by those seriously long in the body. However, anyone who fancies a snooze will certainly enjoy the Kia’s reclining rear seats – a feature that isn’t offered on the Ateca or Qashqai. The Ateca also has the biggest boot, although not by as much as the official figures would lead you to believe. Its load bay is easily the tallest, but it’s actually the narrowest, while the Sportage’s can swallow the longest loads. You’ll easily fit a couple of big buggies or several large suitcases in the back of any of our protagonists, though, and if you need more space all three cars have 60/40 split rear seats that fold to give similar-sized extended load bays. To make life even easier, the Qashqai and Sportage have false boot floors which, when slotted into place, raise the base of the loadbay to flush with the boot lip and mean there’s no annoying step in the floor when the rear seats are folded. This handy feature costs £155 on the Ateca. Fuente: New Seat Ateca vs Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage - What Car?