The letters ‘tec’ that sit neatly in the middle of the name of SEAT’s first foray into the world of sports utility vehicles is a clue to the direction the Spanish marque is heading.

For the striking compact SUV is simply packed with technology which extends into every area of life on board.

From radar-controlled emergency braking to a system that automatically parks the car, the Ateca offers a host of helping hands.

With a boost in technology has come a similar rise in build quality, to the point that it rivals its Volkswagen Group siblings.

SEAT is pitching the Ateca, whose rivals include the Renault Kadjar, Peugeot 3008 and Hyundai Tucson, as the ‘third pillar’ of the brand, alongside the popular Ibiza and Leon models.

Solid, quiet and smooth-riding, the Ateca's ace up its sleeve is its value for money. Prices start from under £18,000 rising to £30,000 for the top-of-the-range model – which is enough to give its Qashqai-style rivals more than a run for their money.

Being based on the same platform as the SEAT Leon means the Ateca has access to the full range of Volkswagen Group engines.

Two petrol and three diesel units offer power outputs ranging from 114 to 187 horsepower, with options to perfectly suit private and company buyers. You can also opt for a powerful diesel model with four-wheel drive for a bit of off-road ability, and a quick-shifting automatic gearbox.

The test model, in mid-specification SE trim, is likely to be among the most popular, particularly when matched with the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine, that develops 148 horsepower and is a natural choice for drivers covering low mileages. The engine, which also appears in the Ibiza and Leon, uses so-called active cylinder technology that automatically shuts off two of the engine’s four cylinders under low to mid load, to improve fuel consumption and cut emissions.

Inside, the Ateca offers decent interior space and plenty of headroom thanks to the high-set roofline. Boot space is near the top of the class and a low loading lip makes access easy.

Instrumentation is modern and crystal clear and the dashboard is dominated by an eight-inch colour touchscreen, flanked on both sides by four buttons that controls everything from satellite navigation and telephone to audio and a range of apps. All this with integrated voice control and eight-speaker audio.

SE models get dual-zone climate control, cruise control, electrically-adjustable, heated and folding door mirrors and rear parking sensors on top of all the kit from S models, which includes everything from 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth and electric parking brake.

The safety and driver assistance systems available are pretty impressive, and run from the likes of adaptive cruise control, city emergency braking with pedestrian protection and traffic sign recognition to automatic dipping headlights and tiredness recognition.

Small wonder it has already been voted crossover of the year by both Auto Express and Top Gear magazines.

Auto facts

Model: SEAT Ateca SE 1.4 Eco TSI 150 PS

Price: £21,015

Insurance group: 13E

Fuel consumption (Combined): 53.3mpg

Top speed: 125mph

Length: 436cm/171.6in

Width: 184cm/72.4in

Luggage capacity: 18 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 11 gallons/50 litres

CO2 emissions: 122g/km

Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles