The first Seat Altea model was released in 2003, but its roots can be traced to the Salsa car concept presented in 2000 at a Geneva car show. The latest SEAT Altea has gone a long way from its origins. Although comparable to the Renault Scenic, the Altea competes accordingly by offering an XL or standard model variation. Both of these only have a five-seat capacity but have a larger boot capacity by 123 litres.
The Altea sports a sleek design that features trademark SEAT elements: from the S logo, a wide radiator grille, peeled back headlights, to the aggressive looking air intakes. In terms of aesthetics, the Altea sports a bonnet that sweeps upwards to blend seamlessly into the roofline. This effortless transition between parts ends with the raked rear screen’s steep approach. These elements are complemented by the brand’s styling line that goes from the headlights, the wheelarch, and then into the flank. We place the Altea as one of the best looking vehicles among other MPVs and makes it a worthy competitor against the more popular brands. Function wise, the driver’s seat is quite comfortable and offers firm support.
The Altea boasts of power and speed with its refined 1.2-litre petrol engine at 105bhp. Its turbocharged four-cylinder makes it even better than the 1.4-litre model. But if you want more value, go for the 1.4TSI that employs the same technology but impresses in terms of how it runs a compact MPV. We recommend more, however, the two diesel engines. The 1.6-litre may only release 103bhp, but it’s able to arrive at 62mph in just 12.2 seconds. The other engine, a 2.0-litre TDI at 138bhp, has a lower fuel economy by 5mpg and CO2 emissions.
Ride and handling is almost flawless via firm suspension, balanced body control, minimal body roll, keen direction change, and understeer resistance. You can expect an ultimately enjoyable drive on the Altea thanks to these elements. Road surfaces are passed over with little undulations. The XL model’s added bulk is negligible even after driving the vehicle back and forth.
Unfortunately the driver’s seat offers poor visibility via the high scuttle and visible bonnet. The A-pillars stretch too far and are too large, making the Altea just like every other MPV in the market. The rear is both a hit and a miss. There’s enough head and legroom; passengers can enjoy full support from the bench seat. But storage capacity wise, it’s limited even with the 6050 split fold and the advertised 30 storage areas. And although the boot space is large at 409-litres, the XL variation compromises extra seating space for an added 123-litres for luggage.
In terms of handling, the electro-hydraulic power steering is not as responsive. And although the drive is generally enjoyable, it can get rather harsh when going around town motor speeds. Body control is able to balance the cabin level experience, but the vehicle does tend to break and rut over certain surfaces.
In terms of performance, design, and handling, the Altea impresses despite the minor improvements. It’s still a smart buy considering how much power and performance it offers on the road.
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