NOT content with having three models that look very similar, SEAT is adding a fourth line which, from the front at least, retains that identikit styling.
But the Altea XL looks different from the rear, thanks to a lengthened body to create a larger boot. Based on the existing Altea, the XL is nearly 19cm longer and from the B-pillars back the styling is all-new.
It’s aimed squarely at families and offers luggage capacity of 532 litres – 123 litres more than in the standard Altea. And, if the rear seat bench is moved forward by its maximum 14cm, space increases to 635 litres.
So boot space is the big winner, but rear passengers can also benefit from an extra 2cm of legroom.
Three models will be available from launch in January – the 1.6-litre petrol with 102bhp, a 1.9-litre TDI with 105bhp and the 140bhp 2.0-litre TDI.
The range will increase shortly afterwards with a 2.0-litre FSI Tiptronic petrol with 150bhp, a turbocharged 1.8-litre FSI offering 160bhp and the 170bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel.
SEAT director Peter Wyhinney said: ‘We believe we now have a whole suite of vehicles to offer the user-chooser and the Altea XL is well suited to the fleet driver wanting that extra bit of room.
‘Our research suggests there are potential customers who did not buy an Altea because it didn’t have enough boot space for them.
‘We expect the XL will steal sales away from the Altea but we will secure new customers, too.’
Rivals include the Ford Focus estate, Renault Megane Sport Tourer, Fiat Stilo Multi Wagon, Peugeot 307 SW and Vauxhall Astra estate. The lack of mini-MPVs in this SEAT-provided hitlist suggests it doesn’t see the Altea as one, despite looking like an MPV to use. Confusing.
Behind the wheel
LAUNCHING the Altea XL at a hotel-cum-theme park in Spain was a fitting choice as it’s very much a family-oriented car.
Space and practicality are the main features, and the engine line-up reflects this with frugal units being offered.
The entry-level 1.6-litre petrol is, as you’d expect, underpowered because it’s a small engine in a fairly large car and lacks the mid-range torque of the diesels.
The 1.9-litre TDI, expected to be the biggest seller, is far better. The turbodiesel engine is quiet and the suspension settings are softer than the regular Altea to ensure family members aren’t jolted around while sitting in the back.
IF the Altea appeals but simply isn’t big enough for your needs, then the XL is the answer. It’s practical, drives nicely and offers a useful amount of extra boot space.
|Model:||1.6||1.9 TDI||2.0 TDI|
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||102/5,600||105/4,000||140/4,000|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||109/3,800||184/1,900||236/1,750|
|Max speed (mph):||91||115||115|
|Fuel consumption (mpg):||36.2||52.3||47.9|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||187||146||157|