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Better late than never: VW-owned SEAT will show its first crossover in Geneva

Volkswagen’s Spain-based SEAT division has finally introduced its first-ever crossover. Called Ateca, a name borrowed from a small town in northern Spain, the soft-roader will be presented to the public at next month’s Geneva Auto Show.

The Ateca is instantly recognizable as a member of the SEAT lineup. Its front end is defined by angular headlights with LED daytime running lights, a trapezoidal grille, a massive air intake, and a rugged-looking lower bumper that mimics a skid plate. Out back, the Ateca features sharp, almost Audi-esque tail lamps, an upright hatch, and a roof-mounted spoiler. Black plastic trim over the wheel arches and a generous amount of ground clearance provide the touch of brawniness that buyers look for in a crossover.

Stretching 171 inches long, the crossover shares its modular MQB platform with numerous Volkswagen, Audi, and SEAT models including the second-generation Tiguan, the TT, the Euro-spec Passat, and the seventh-gen Golf, just to name a few. It offers space for five passengers and anywhere between 17 and 18 cubic feet of trunk space depending on how it’s configured.

The Ateca is available with an array of turbocharged three- and four-cylinder engines borrowed from the Volkswagen parts bin. The entry-level diesel-burning engine is 1.6-liter TDI unit rated at 113 horsepower, and buyers who need more grunt can move up to Volkswagen’s ubiquitous 2.0-liter TDI offered with either 148 or 187 ponies. Motorists who prefer a gasoline engine can select either a 1.0-liter TSI with 113 hp or a 1.4-liter TSI with 148 hp. The bigger TSI packs a cylinder deactivation system that keeps fuel economy in check.

Front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission both come standard, and the list of option includes all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission controlled by steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles.

Related: Skoda will preview its Tiguan-based SUV in Geneva

The 2016 SEAT Ateca will land in showrooms across Europe in September. When it arrives, it will fight head-to-head against the Nissan Qashqai — one of the best-selling crossovers in Europe –, the Honda HR-V, the Mazda CX-3, and, to a lesser extent, Volkswagen’s own Tiguan. It goes without saying that the Ateca will not be sold on our shores, where the SEAT brand has never been officially distributed.