20 April 2014
Launched back in 2004, the Altea was SEAT’s fresh take on the small family MPV. With innovative styling and a slightly sporting demeanour it was heralded as being more than ‘just a family workhorse’. The Altea has now been treated to a refreshed exterior and interior with new engine options.
The Altea is available with a wide variety of engines from the 85PS 1.4-litre petrol to the range-topping 170PS 2.0 TDI CR (common rail) tested here. It’s unlikely that drivers will need to call upon all of its ample power very often, especially if the full family troupe is also aboard, but the 258lb/ft of torque can certainly come in handy. Although the 1.9TDI and 140PS 2.0 TDI versions are available with a 6-speed DSG auto transmission, this Sport variant makes do with a smooth-shifting 6-sp manual. 0-62 in 8.5 secs and a max of 131mph should prove ample.
All Altea models are equipped with MacPherson strut front suspension with sophisticated multi-link rear suspension and ‘intelligent’, fuel-saving electro-mechanical power steering. The Altea Sport also boasts sports suspension and tasty 5-spoke alloys. One potential pitfall of sports suspensions and low-profile tyres, especially on family cars, is that they can result in an overly firm ride, but even with no passengers or cargo aboard the Sport soaks up the bumps pretty well and rides comfortably. The steering is precise and the car feels taut and lively from behind the wheel, more so than you might expect of an MPV.
Following my a brief test drive it wouldn’t be right to make definitive statements about quality, but based on this and previous, longer-term experiences with other current SEAT models, Alteas included, I’ve no cause to suspect that anything is amiss. The Altea, along with almost all other SEATs, is manufactured in the company’s ultra modern factory near Barcelona where the latest production techniques are used and fit, finish, feel and quality of plastics and materials are all up to par. Of the 29 manufacturers in the ’09 JD Power Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study SEAT scored an industry average of 781 points.
In Euro NCAP tests the Altea earned itself the full five stars for occupant protection, fours stars for child protection and three for pedestrian protection. Switchable TCS (Traction Control System) is standard across the range as is the latest generation ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) with EBA (Emergency Brake Assist). In addition to the active safety features, the revised Altea is equipped with six airbags on all versions: two at the front, two side and twin curtain (rear side airbags were a £200 option on my test car). Security features include remote central locking with deadlocks, a volumetric alarm with back-up horn, an engine immobiliser, locking wheel bolts, child locks, auto-lock/unlock doors and an interior central locking control button.
Although this Sport model is a nifty driving machine with a pair of comfy ‘sports seats’ up front, the Altea’s primary attributes are space and practicality. Though a 5-seater (some other similarly-sized MPVs seat six or seven) the high-roofed Altea is cleverly designed. With over 30 storage compartments (there’s even one in the rear parcel shelf), bottle and cup holders, umbrella straps, fastening rings and hooks, the boot features a two-tiered floor and the whole rear seat slides forward by 14cm to increase boot space further. Capacity rises from 409 litres to a max of 1,320 depending on how the seats and other items are configured.
The £19,000 Altea Sport has a 3yr/60,000m mechanical warranty and a two-year Europe-wide rescue service along with dual-zone climate control, cruise control, electric windows front and rear, an MP3-compatible CD audio system with ‘aux’ inputs and a trip computer. My test car was also loaded with over £2,000-worth of options which included a Technology and Convenience Pack, a Media System and rear seat entertainment with roof-mounted screen. Fuel consumption is quoted at a surprisingly economic 50.4mpg combined, along with 146g/km of CO2 (£125 annual road tax) and group 11E insurance. Aside from a high waistline which young kids might find hard to peer out over, the Altea Sport is annoyingly hard to fault.
Submitted: 18/11/2009 14:39:23
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