Head-to-head review: Volkswagen Tiguan v Seat Ateca
The problem with the conglomeration of automobiles is that, sooner or later, everything starts to feel a bit… samey.
Whereas a lot of good has come out of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Nissan-Renault Alliance and the Volkswagen Group, one thing that has suffered is a lack of distinctive properties and designs on the road, something where you can unequivocally identify an automobile as quintessentially ‘that brand’.
See for example, the Volkswagen Tiguan and the Seat Ateca.
2.0 TDi BMT 150 4Motion SE Nav 5dr DSG
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Based on the MQB platform – something shared throughout the whole Volkswagen Group by the likes of the Audi Q2, Seat Leon, Skoda Kodiaq, Volkswagen Golf and tellingly the Volkswagen Tiguan – the Seat Ateca has the benefit of being the new kid on the block and takes full advantage of the company's tried and tested strategy for shared modular construction of its transverse automobiles across their entire holding.
But does a shared platform mean shared greatness?
Having recently tested both the Seat Ateca 1.0 TSI and the Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI, we thought we’d compare and contrast what both crossovers can offer to lessees and whether it’s a simple case of budget v premium or if there is more under the bonnet.
Like a very hard game of spot the difference, you’ll have to really try to find even the most subtle of differences between the crossovers.
Styling-wise the Ateca does have the benefit of borrowing somewhat from the Seat Leon, particularly with the headlights and bumper, whereas the Tiguan tries to be its own thing via bold chrome grille and rectangular headlamps.
Outside of that, the sizes are very very similar with the Ateca’s length coming in at 4363mm with the Tiguan stretching just a tiny bit more to 4486mm. Paradoxically though, the Ateca is a hair’s width wider at 1,841mm compared to the Tiguan’s 1,839mm but you’d struggle to even notice that without a tape measure.
Seat know a good thing when they design it, so step foot in the Ateca and it immediately feels like a roomier Leon. There’s no shortage of leg or head space in the Ateca, and the rear seats allow for three adults to squeeze in together comfortably. While the middle passenger will have to clamber over a central tunnel, the seats are wide and comfortable meaning if you regularly carry five people, the Ateca is your best option in this class.
The basic model we tested had great visibility, optimum comfort and logical layout featuring a five-inch screen. Alas this didn’t come with features you might think of as ‘basic’ such as DAB or reversing camera which may put you off the model if those points are important in a lease.
The Tiguan similarly takes inspiration from its badge’s shining star with a cabin that borrows liberally from the Golf. Getting comfortable is easy, thanks to electric seat and steering wheel adjustment, and the layout of the dashboard is user-friendly and easy to navigate with all the switches and controls laid out logically and minimally.
The plush interiors are also thoroughly comfy, offering heated seats in the front and plenty of space in the back, while the driver and front passenger’s needs are looked after with plenty of cubbyholes for everything from your standard drinks holder to drawers under the seats for valuables.
On the road
Yep, you guessed it, the Ateca is a bigger Leon. This is a very very good thing on the road though as it means Seat has essentially produced something closer to a traditional car than any SUV has managed before. That means you don’t get too much body lean when cornering thanks to firm suspension, the steering is precise and there’s plenty of grip which all makes it feel more agile than an SUV should.
While a 1.0 TSI engine with just 115PS may seem way too small for a car as big as this, and I myself was sceptical for that very reason, it is ideal for driving around town and is more than capable as a family car for long distance motorway journeys.
Driving is effortless in the Tiguan, but if you’re looking for thrills and excitement from your motor you should definitely look elsewhere.
The steering is light and precise, which makes the car easy to manoeuvre on the road, and there’s plenty of grip as you’d expect. However, the suspension is a bit firm and while it handles speed bumps and potholes well you’d be advised to take it easy going over them.
Both are highly economical motors, with the Seat Ateca offering a combined MPG of 54.3 whereas the VW Tiguan offers a respectable 50.4.
When it comes to fuel comparisons based on our specified leasing model*, the one litre petrol Seat Ateca would cost you £1,012.15** throughout the lifetime of a three-year lease whereas the two-litre diesel Tiguan would cost a reasonable £1,057.84**
With the recent changes to Vehicle Excise Duty, you’ll be looking to pay £160 for the first year and £140 as standard afterward for the Tiguan.
Oddly, despite the engine being one litre smaller and petrol, the Ateca has the same road tax costs as its stablemate meaning again £160 for the first year and £140 as standard afterward. Remember that these will be wrapped up into your monthly leasing price though.
With this in mind, average leasing costs* for the 2.0 TDI Tiguan SE Nav trim come in at an enticing £265 whereas the basic spec Seat Ateca 1.0 TSI Ecomotive S is £195.
In our opinion
There is no right answer here, so in choosing your preference it might simply come down to a case of your unique needs.
If keeping costs down is a concern and you just need something relatively basic to get you from A to B in style then it makes the Ateca a no-brainer. Similarly, if you’re making the move from driving a hatchback to a crossover then the Ateca won’t feel like a massive leap due to its excellent handling.
If you need a little bit more all-around from your car – be it performance, off-road ability or tech – then you might want to spend the extra money on the Tiguan. While it might not be a scintillating drive, it is solid and dependable and has a certain level of class which the Ateca is lacking.
Either way, you can’t go wrong and these two vehicles remain the cream of the crossover crop in our opinion.
*Average monthly lease rates calculated using ContractHireAndLeasing.com data and based on typical 6 + 35 10k deals. Correct at time of writing.
**Estimated fuel cost based on £1.18 Petrol. £1.21 Diesel. (per litre).