In those respects, it has lived up to expectations, but as soon as I put my foot on the accelerator it was obvious there was much more to this car than mere efficiency.
I don’t know about the other models in the Altea range but the 2.0 TDI Sport goes like a rocket. The only downside for drivers like me could be that it builds speed at such a rate that you’re doing more than 30mph before you’ve even reached the car park exit.
Mind you, if I’d looked back to our first test report in July, I’d have had an idea of what was in store. Colleague Trevor Gelken wrote: ‘Our car features a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine pumping out 138bhp. And it acts in a very undiesel-like fashion.’ He described it as a ‘little belter that had shown a clean pair of heels to many a sporty car, much to the surprise of those being overtaken’.
As someone whose main mileage is conducted on short urban routes, I’m also really pleased to have something nippy enough to happily negotiate city traffic.
The only downside is fuel economy. I’m currently averaging 37.6mpg, which is way short of SEAT’s claimed figure of 47.9mpg. Of course, stop-start driving and a lack of many long journeys will not help this. Despite its comparative height, the Altea rounds corners with little feeling of roll, partly due to the superb support offered by the seats.
The Altea is first to feature SEAT’s new windscreen wiper system, designed to cope with the large screen surface. At rest, the wiper arms are concealed vertically within the screen’s A-pillars and, when activated, sweep in a top-to-bottom arc. They seem to work efficiently, though I haven’t worked out how to activate the rear wiper without the wash function, which means I may run out of water sooner than I should.
On the downside, however, the bodyline seems to be set high enough to restrict visibility both forwards and backwards. You can see nothing of the bonnet from the driving seat and the rear view is nearly as difficult, which makes parking a bit of a guessing game.
Perhaps parking sensors (an optional extra at around £175) would be a good idea to avoid any scrapes or bumps.
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) 22% tax-payer: £56 a month
Insurance group: 8
Combined mpg: 47.9
Test mpg: 37.6
CAP Monitor residual value: £5,900/36%
Typical contract hire rate: £338
Expenditure to date: Nil