The Seat Altea may be getting on a bit now, unveiled in 2003 and able to trace its roots right back to the Salsa concept car from the 2000 Geneva show, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less relevant. Even the introduction of the excellent Alhambra full-size MPV doesn’t detract from this car’s appeal.

Much like the Renault Scenic which started the compact MPV craze, the Altea is available in both standard and XL variants – though unlike its rival the larger Altea still only has five seats. Instead it simply offers much more boot space – 123-litres extra in fact. It’s could be seen as a strange decision, but in reality not many compact MPV’s are employed to transport more than four passengers regularly, and customers with busy lifestyles will appreciate the extra room for luggage. 

As part of the Volkswagen group Seat has somewhat lost its direction in recent years, but the Altea was conceived at a time when the Spanish brand was destined to be the youthful and sporty arm of the organisation. And it shows in the styling of the Altea, both inside and out, sharing plenty of its DNA with the smaller Leon model 

Admittedly it’s not quite as flexible as some of its rivals on the inside –only having five seats does hamper it somewhat - but a wide range of excellent engines and low running costs ensure that despite the advancing years the Altea still has plenty of appeal. 

Top 5 Compact MPVs

  • The BMW 2-series Active Tourer goes up against the likes of the Volkswagen Golf SV and Ford C-Max

    BMW 2-series Active Tourer

  • B-Max's unique construction means it doesn't need conventional B-pillars

    Ford B-Max

  • It’s longer and more expensive, but does bigger mean better?

    Vauxhall Meriva

  • Quirky Citroëns are back, but is square the new cool?

    Citroën C3 Picasso

  • Ford Tourneo Connect
    The Tourneo Connect, left, is the five-seater; on the right is the Grand Tourneo Connect which is available with seven seats

    Ford Tourneo Connect


First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    2 October 2015
    Track Edition GT-R takes key elements from the range-topping GT-R Nismo and offers them at a more affordable price
  • First Drive
    2 October 2015
    We've driven the Golf R Estate abroad and thought it was top drawer, but we need a UK drive to be sure. Here we do just that
  • First Drive
    2 October 2015
    Does Hyundai’s entry-level diesel leave us feeling short-changed? We drive it on UK roads to find out
  • First Drive
    1 October 2015
    'New' turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine is entry-level route into the X-Trail range, but is it worth it in this range-topping trim over a diesel alternative?
  • Car review
    1 October 2015
    Is it seventh time lucky for Vauxhall’s British-built Focus fighter?