At the wheel of Spain’s excellent SUV challenger with Roger St. Pierre.
Bringing a new model of car to the market is a complex process.
There are target audiences to be identified, specifications to be settled on, colour choices to be decided – and then there’s the critical matter of getting the name right.
Increasingly, manufacturers are taking the soft alphabetic or numeric option, hence the Mercedes C-class, BMW 3 Series, Volvo XC90 et al.
In a now global market, companies who still play the name game carry out intensive research to ensure their chosen name-tags work across a wide range of languages and cultures.
Spain’s SEAT started out in 1950, producing versions of Fiat designs under licence, but following its acquisition in 1983 by the Audi-VW group it has asserted its own identity, naming its models after Spanish towns and regions. Thus, we have the Ibiza, Leon, Toledo and Alhambra models, to which now can be added the Ateca, a smart little number voted the best small crossover SUV in the ‘What Car?’ 2017 awards.
Comments Enrique Pastor, who heads up product strategy and market research at SEAT: “Over the past three decades, the names of all but two of our model lines have been taken Spanish place names.
‘We normally start thinking about a name a couple of years before a new model’s launch, whittling a list of 1,000 or so down to a shortlist, but with the Ateca we went through a list of 8,141 Spanish town names, eliminated any that were already in use for other products or didn’t sound attractive, and used linguists to make sure that names we were considering sounded good in all 18 of the languages in use throughout our market territories.
“A total of 500 people, that’s 100 from each of our top five markets, were then polled for their views before a list of four front runners was considered by the company’s board.”
Ateca stood out: “It’s not only a Spanish region, ending, like Alhambra and Ibiza, with the letter ‘a’ but represents quality and technology,” says Pastor.
Buyers can choose from 16 colours. There’s also a choice of wheels – from smart 16-inch alloys to sporty 19-inch shoes – and four trim levels: S, starting from £18,150; SE priced from £19,520, and topping out with the SE Technology, from £21,580 and the Xcellence, with an FR version scheduled for later this year and a high performance Cupra to follow that.
Sharing a platform with the successful Leon range, the Ateca is a compact but spacious five-door, five-seater, with four-wheel drive an option.
Engine choices – there are five – ranging from a 114 bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol lump to a 187 bhp 2.0-litre diesel. Dependent on model, fuel consumption figures of 51.4 to 65.7 mpg are attainable.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard across the board while a seven-speed DSG twin-clutch auto is available with the 1.4-litre TSI and 2.0 TDI models.
The Ateca is highly specced, with air-con, parking sensors, cruise control and heated folding mirrors standard on all models. The SE Technology rendition adds LED headlights, sat-nav and a DAB radio while the Xcellence features bigger wheels, heated leather seats, a reversing camera and tinted windows.
Very much a driver’s car, the Alteca impresses with its dash and controls layouts, is nice looking, fun to drive and well trimmed.
In a busy crossover SUV market, the Ateca takes on such rivals as the VW Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai, Mazda CX-5, Peugeot 3008 and Renault Kadjar and it acquits itself admirably in terms of handling, performance, comfort, economy and price.
What is SEAT’s first SUV will be followed in due course with SUV renditions of other models.
Roger St. Pierre is a seasoned professional travel and motoring writer and editor with over 40 years in the industry and one of our regular contributors.
Photographs courtesy of Seat UK