01 August 2014
The Seat Altea sits somewhere between a hatchback and MPV, but that doesn’t mean its performance is compromised on 2.0-litre turbodiesel form. Owning a Seat Altea should prove to be a very hassle-free experience. To gain the combination of the DSG twin-clutch gearbox and 2.0-litre turbodiesel, you only have the choice of the SE trim, which comes with climate control, four electric windows, CD stereo, cruise control and alloy wheels all included in the reasonable price tag.
The Seat Altea sits somewhere between a hatchback and MPV, but that doesn’t mean its performance is compromised on 2.0-litre turbodiesel form. To gain the six-speed DSG twin-clutch gearbox, this is the best engine to go for – the 1.9 turbodiesel is not as smooth or powerful, even if it is cheaper to buy. The 138bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel is punchy and offers 236lb ft of shove from 1750rpm, maintaining this peak power all the way to 2500rpm. Even after this, the engine still revs keenly and helps the Altea build speed with ease. Nought to 62mph comes up in 9.8 seconds, which is fractionally quicker than the six-speed manual version’s 9.9 seconds. On the move, the DSG gearbox allows for seamless shifts between the gears, though a slight stutter can be detected when the driver is on and off the throttle in quick movements such as when driving in slow moving traffic. On faster roads, the Altea’s 2.0-litre diesel engine is quiet and there’s little road noise, though some wind whistle can be heard from around the windscreen at motorway pace.
For such a tall hatchback, the Seat Altea handles very well. Its rangy sides do not interfere with the way it contains body lean, which means occupants are not hurled around when the driver needs to change direction quickly. It also helps make the Altea surprisingly good fun to drive on country road, aided by crisp steering feel, while towns are dealt with easily and helped by the higher driving position than that found in most hatches. The downside to all of this agility is the ride is not just on the firm side of controlled but just plain too hard. In town, every bump is felt and sleeping policemen are woken up with a jolt. Greater speed brings some more suppleness, but where a Ford C-Max mixes control and comfort, the Seat remains too harsh for long distance luxury.
All of the mechanical components used in the Altea have been proven time and again in this car and many other Volkswagen Group machines. The DSG gearbox has a great track record of reliability, so it’s no wonder the Altea was the highest scoring Seat in the 209 JD Power Satisfaction Survey. All of the interior fabrics, materials and plastics are durable and strong, though some of the plastics grouped around the driver are a little too easy to mark, which makes the cabin look used and lived in a little too quickly.
With ESP traction control, electronic braking aids and anti-lock brakes all to hand, the Seat Altea is as safe as it is sure-footed. It also comes with twin front, side and curtain airbags, as well as anti-whiplash head rests to minimise potential injuries for those in the front in the event of an accident. There are also two Isofix child seat mounting points in the rear seats, so younger children are just as securely fastened into the car as every other occupant. A Euro NCAP crash test score of five stars is good, as is the child protection score of four stars. An alarm, deadlocks and immobiliser take care of the security side of the equation.
This is where the Seat Altea shows its stripes. Though not a fully fledged MPV, the rear seats slide, tip and fold flat into the floor to leave a massive load space of 1320-litres. With the rear seats in use, there’s still a very handy 409-litres of luggage capacity. The boot also has a split level floor, so you can use the full depth for big loads or install the upper floor section to make use of the boot while the space beneath can keep valuable goods out of the way of prying eyes. The high sides of the Altea give it superb headroom for all five of its occupants and, with generous rear seat space, it’s one of the few hatches that can carry five adults in decent comfort. Up front, the driver has plenty of head, leg and shoulder space, and the seat and steering wheel are easily tailored to suit different sizes of driver. The only niggle with the Altea is the sweep of the rear side windows, which reduces the driver’s vision when looking over his or her shoulder while parking or changing lanes on the motorway. On the positive side, the dash is clear and uncluttered and the gear lever is set high in the centre console to be in easy reach.
Owning a Seat Altea should prove to be a very hassle-free experience. To gain the combination of the DSG twin-clutch gearbox and 2.0-litre turbodiesel, you only have the choice of the SE trim, which comes with climate control, four electric windows, CD stereo, cruise control and alloy wheels all included in the reasonable price tag. The engine returns a decent combined economy of 47.1mpg – slightly down on the manual version’s 48.7mpg, while carbon dioxide emissions of 159g/km make the Altea a sound bet for company and private buyers. Used values are reasonable for the Altea, though nothing out of the ordinary for this class of car, but insurance in group 7 is very affordable.
Submitted: 03/12/2009 15:10:32
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