The press blurb describes it thus: ‘First and foremost a family car – but as an MSV it also combines driving pleasure with a potent visual presence.’
It certainly fulfils the second part of that statement. I find the Altea’s bold looks stunning and with its Euro IV compliant 2.0 Tdi engine delivering a 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds and a combined mpg of 47.9 it has the ideal combination of frugality with speed.
My problem with the Altea is its aspirations in the family market. With a five-star Euro NCAP crash protection rating, surprisingly spacious interior stuffed with the usual stashes and cubby holes, the two things that really let it down are poor boot space and lack of three full-sized seats in the back.
While it can still contend with other ‘cross-over’ models or compact MPVs like the Ford Focus C-Max, the Altea seems too much of a sports car and not enough of a family vehicle.
So far, I’ve not had the opportunity to really test out the ‘first and foremost a family car’ claim with only the usual shuttle runs to work and shops. However, I’ll soon be going on holiday with the Altea, which should fill in the family friendly picture.
With that in mind, I’ve already had a trial run with the boot – surprisingly taking two large suitcases and a big plastic crate. A false floor in the boot uncovers extra depth of about four inches which makes all the difference. The false floor will be taking up residency in my garage from now on.
I’ve also noticed a certain amount of wind noise coming from the top of the side windows, so it will be interesting to see how much that bothers us on our holiday motorway driving.
After several experiments I’ve discovered that there is a fault in the steering column switch for the rear wash-wipe, which is tied to a dashboard door open warning light.
The ‘door-open’ warning shows even though the doors are shut and, while this warning light is on, the steering column rear wash-wipe controls don’t work. I’ll be talking to the local dealership and will report on the results next time. Julie Jackson
Model: SEAT Altea 2.0 TDI Sport
Price (OTR): £17,000 (£17,505 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 159
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 22% tax-payer: £56 a month
Insurance group: 8
Combined mpg: 47.9
Test mpg: 45.6
CAP Monitor residual value: £6,075/36%
Expenditure to date: Nil
Typical contract hire rate: £349
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles