As a collective who are fond of the VW Group cars, we can quite often pigeon hole the brands; Audi = posh, VW = quality family vehicles, Skoda = value and SEAT = young and sporty. What happens, however, when the brands cross over into each other’s territory, for example, when SEAT makes a compact SUV? Can they really make it young and sporty?

To find out, we drove the new SEAT Ateca for a week and lived with it as a family car.

Our SEAT Ateca was a XCELLENCE 2.0 TDI 4Drive 150 PS 6-speed manual with the XCELLENCE Pack (top-view camera, Park Assist, and electric tailgate with virtual pedal), SEAT Sound System (135W/six-channel amplifier,10 speakers, boot mounted subwoofer and 18-inch space saver spare wheel) and 19-inch ‘Exclusive’ machined bi-colour alloy wheels.

Although the Ateca might look familiar, if you are used to the VW Tiguan, SEAT have given it a slightly sportier edge with some crisper lines. It’s also slightly smaller too, so I prefer to think of it as a raised up SEAT Leon.

The sporty intentions continue on the inside where there’s a decent level of bolstering on the seats - more than you’d anticipate of a car in this segment. Other than that, the interior is clearly well made but a tad bland. SEAT used to have a bit more flare with their interiors (not always in a good way) but they have played it fairly safe with this model.

In terms of space, the Ateca has room for five with impressive legroom for such a compact car. With large doors and low sills, it’s easy for getting children in and out of car seats. There’s also 510l of boot space (485l 4WD model) which means you can fit the entire luggage needed for a family trip away.

The real differentiation for the Ateca is supposed to be the way it drives, so let’s concentrate on that.

While we were driving the 150PS 2.0l diesel with 4WD, you can get the Ateca in a number of other configurations from 1.0l – 1.4l petrol and 1.6l – 2.0l 190PS diesel. As with other VW Group cars that we’ve driven that are of a similar size/weight, the pick of the range for drivers is usually the 1.4l 150PS petrol with a manual ‘box.

Forgetting for a moment that ‘our’ car had the wrong engine, of the growing number of compact SUVs that I’ve driven, the Ateca can attack a corner with the least roll and without the compromise of a crashy ride. Our car also had 4WD, meaning it had enough grip that you’d really have to be in a hurry to ever bother it. When you’re out on the road you could easily forget that the Ateca is a SUV...even a compact one. It drives like a car and for many people, me especially, this is really important.

This took me to thinking about who is going to be buying the Ateca. When the family consensus is “we’re buying a compact SUV” then this really is the best of the current options for the driver of the house who still wants to enjoy motoring. While the Ateca has space, gadgets and looks good, it also handles better than it’s rivals meaning you can have a bit of fun with it.

So, would I buy one? Quite possibly, now that SEAT has announced the Ateca FR with a more potent 2.0 TSI 190 engine option. This combination looks like a sweet spot that gives you a hot hatch and a sensible family car in one young and sporty package.