Well, actually, yes, it could. The Altea (with removable boot base cover taken out to add extra depth to the boot) comfortably took all our luggage for a two week camping holiday with nothing on the rear parcel shelf and none of the back seats folded down. Admittedly we did have the pushchair and coats in the front footwell, but this left acres of space for the three of us to travel in style and comfort.
We clocked up more than 2,140 miles and averaged 45.1mpg, which would have been better if we had not spent four hours crawling in a traffic jam around Bordeaux. It is still quite a respectable figure for a heavily loaded 2.0-litre car with the air-con blasting away.
The fantastic sport seats ensured that after spending nearly 48 hours at the wheel in total I didn’t feel as stiff as a board and the extra depth in the rear footwells added to the comfort with room to stretch your legs right out under the driver’s seat.
Our trip did raise a couple of challenges. Because of the full side wings on the front sport seats, our child seat had to go in the rear. The bulky front seats block the forward view because of the high shoulders, which meant our rear passenger had to spend the trip looking to one side or another.
Also, although the Altea has dual zone climate control, very little of it seems to get through to the back unless the front passengers are blasted with freezing air.
On the upside, the wind noise I had noticed earlier on the car was non-existent at motorway speeds, and since mentioning the small electrical fault affecting the ‘door open’ dashboard display in my last test, the problem seems to have sorted itself out without a trip to the local dealership.
One thing I noticed about the Altea was how many other people admired it. You could see people’s heads turn when driving through towns and I once came out of a shop and found two Spaniards discussing it. When waiting in a toll booth queue, another Altea in the next line pulled level and the four young men in the car waved, pointed and gave the thumbs up to our model – obviously appreciating us Brits bringing the car back to its homeland. 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: 45.1
CAP Monitor residual value: £6,075/36%
Expenditure to date: Nil
Typical contract hire rate: £349