It wasnít too long ago that cars were much simpler. If anything was amiss, a keen DIYer could get his tool box and spanners from the shed, lift the bonnet and take a look at the problem himself. Owners would likely have bought a Haynes manual for their particular car, and that book would unlock all the secrets to keeping the car in tip-top shape. It saved a trip to the main dealer, and kept running costs in check. Sunday morning was all about tinkering with the car, giving it a deep clean and polish and then snoozing on the sofa feeling quite satisfied with yourself.
But now cars are like supercomputers, with more capability than you could ever imagine. Whereas a car was used to travel simply from A-to-B, now itís more about the well-being of the occupants and how they can be entertained and cossetted. You certainly wouldnít get different coloured mood lights, your luck was in if you got a solitary bulb on the sunvisorís mirror, that is if you had a mirror at all. The multi-colour interior ambient lighting, to give it its full name, is one of the most pleasing aspects of the Ateca at night, as it sets the tone just right and works away in the background largely unnoticed. But when you get into a car that doesnít have the colourful hues, you feel a little bit let-down. Set into the doors and front footwells, thereís a choice of eight colours, including orange, red and green, but itís the blue that I prefer on a day-to-day basis. Sadly it isnít standard equipment, itís reserved only for the top-spec Xcellence versions, but as an extra £155, itís one of the options that I would choose to spend my own cash on. That and the £185 privacy glass that sets the car off nicely, and £110 for the space-saving spare wheel. Itís ludicrous that car makers can get away with charging extra for something so basic. They will say that it is to aid weight loss and to give customers choice, but I think itís more to do with penny pinching.
And while Iím getting fired up about the cabin of the Ateca, Iíve been really pleased at how easy the carís entertainment system is to use. The Volkswagen Group setup has been universally praised by our testers, but itís the quality of the mapping that impresses us. The fonts are legible, the graphics chunky and a quick glance tells you all you need to know about the route that you are taking. Programming is easy, too, with the system accepting a full seven-digit postcode. Again, the navigation system is an optional extra on our SE model, but at £525, it isnít outrageously expensive for those buyers that want a fully operative system, rather than relying on guidance from their smartphone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto that pleasingly does come as standard on all Ateca models SE and above.
Date arrived 27th September 2016
Fuel economy 65.7mpg (combined) 45.8mpg (on test)
The mapping on the navigation system is clear and easy to read.
There’s only one engine choice for two-wheel-drive buyers, whereas AWD cars are treated to two.