Fleet News

SEAT Altea



Instead of the simple S, SE and Sport structure, the manufacturer has chosen the rather wacky Reference, Stylance and Sport.

These names suggest the young and trendy are key targets or, more precisely, a young couple with one child, the company says.

The range starts with either a 102bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine or a 105bhp 1.9 TDi, both of which are available in Reference trim.

They come with six airbags, air conditioning, ABS brakes, traction control, a CD/radio, remote central locking and electric front windows.

Stylance trim adds electronic climate control, extra audio speakers and steering wheel audio controls, cruise control and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Sport models are available with either a 150bhp 2.0-litre FSI direct injection petrol engine or a 140bhp 2.0-litre TDi. These get sports seats, electronic stability programme and emergency braking assistance and a choice of automatic transmissions.

The FSi is available with a Tiptronic automatic while the diesel is available with a DSG automated manual shift first seen on Audi's TT. This optional transmission is faster than the standard manual.

Although the Altea is expected to be a popular choice for young parents, it should also catch more than just a passing glance from young company car drivers, typically user- choosers or those opting out of a traditional company car scheme.

Sales are expected to reach 2,500 units in the UK this year with full-year sales totalling 5,000 units. The 1.6-litre will be the volume seller, taking 45% of sales.


Corporate drivers are expected to account for about 40% of sales, with the two diesels more popular than their petrol equivalents, due to their low benefit-in-kind (BIK) status. As they are Euro IV compliant, there is no 3% tax penalty.

The boot has a capacity of just over 400 litres and features useful hooks and nets for securing items – handy for work-related paraphernalia or to ensure your shopping remains in its bags.

It has a two-tier luggage compartment, with extra space under the floor. Even more space is available by folding the rear seats to leave a flat load area.

The Altea is true to the original prototype shown at last year's Frankfurt Motor Show and is the first in the brand to be wholly developed within the Audi Brand Group, which was established in 2002.

Unveiled at this year's Motor Show Live in Birmingham, the Altea's looks signal the direction SEAT will take with its forthcoming models.

Behind the wheel

WITH every new car I try, I always look for that 'magic' feature that can be talked about in the pub later.

##Altea int--none##

Examples are Renault's keyless entry, Nissan's 3D Bird-view satellite navigation system or the optional extra 'magic' side doors that open at the press of a button on the Fiat Ulysse I drove last year.

There's not a lot to choose with the SEAT Altea and the best I can do is the fact that its windscreen wipers are concealed in the A-pillars.

Although this alone may not be worthy of mention next time I pop out for a pint, it fits in well with its slick looks.

Company executives say the Altea is neither an MPV nor a traditional five-door hatch – it's just the Altea, a five-seat multi-sports vehicle. It will appeal, they add, to people seeking versatility and style from a vehicle.

Although it's not a stunner, I am a fan of its looks. It's got some nice curves and lines and fits in well with the sporty image of the SEAT brand.

At the UK launch in Hertfordshire, I was able to test both diesel engines and the 1.6-litre petrol engine.

The Altea is a comfortable car with a high seating position that gives a commanding view of the road ahead. It's roomy and the controls are easy to reach and, more importantly, easy to understand.

Fit and finish is top-notch and there are ample small storage compartments in the cabin.

The 2.0-litre TDi sport I drove, with six-speed manual gearbox, was an impressive performer with a decent amount of torque providing plenty of pulling power. It felt comfortable in a variety of driving conditions, both in busy town traffic and on the motorway.

The driving experience when moving up the gears in the 1.9-litre TDi was not dissimilar to the bigger-engined model. But, with 105bhp as opposed to the 2.0-litre TDi's 140bhp, acceleration was noticeably slower in fifth gear at motorway speeds.

Its 0-62mph dash is 12.3 seconds, a couple of seconds slower than its bigger brother, but it is a perfectly adequate car and ideally suited to the role of fleet workhorse.

Both diesels were remarkably quiet and this was more than evident while queuing in traffic behind another marque's diesel, which drowned out any noise coming from the Altea.

The 1.6-litre petrol engine was excellent, with plenty of power giving the feeling of a bigger unit.

Although my overall driving experience of the new Altea was mostly favourable, I wasn't overly impressed by the steering. It was too light for my liking and lacked 'feel'. Drivers not keen on squeezing into tight parking spots may welcome such light and effortless steering, though.

Driving verdict

If it's functionality, a certain degree of individuality and top quality you're after, then the SEAT Altea is perfect. It's a fine-looking vehicle with plenty of room and provides a good driving experience, particularly with its two very good diesel engines.

Fact file
Model 1.6 2.0 FSI 1.9 TDI 2.0 TDI
Engine (cc): 1,595 1,984 1,896 1,968
Max power (bhp/rpm): 102/5,600 150/6,000 105/4,000 140/4,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 109/3,800 148/3,500 184/1,900 236/2,500
Max speed: 112 128 (auto: 126) 114 125
0-62mph (secs) 12.8 9.6 (10.1) 12.3 9.9 (DSG: 9.8)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 182 186 (200) 146 157 (161)
Transmission 5-sp man, 6-sp man 6-sp auto, 6-sp DSG
Service intervals (miles): 10,000
On sale: July
Prices: £12,850-£17,600

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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