From £14,875
Class-leading emissions and impressive dynamics turn the Altea into a worthy contender

Our Verdict

Seat Altea
The Altea MPV is a rival to the Renault Scenic

The Seat Altea

  • First Drive

    Seat Altea XL EV

    This prototype electric Altea is mostly about readying Seat for an EV offering, but it contains some interesting features
  • First Drive

    Seat Altea XL Ecomotive

    Class-leading emissions and impressive dynamics turn the Altea into a worthy contender
2 December 2009

What is it?

Seat’s five-seat mini MPV has undergone an eco makeover. Both the standard Altea and larger Altea XL models have been given the firm’s Ecomotive badge, which brings with it VW Group’s 1.6-litre common-rail, direct-injection TDI engine, a stop-start system and energy recuperation technology.

These changes have given both models CO2 emissions of 119g/km, which qualifies the Altea for £35 road tax. Common eco features on similarly badge cars including lowered ride height, low resistance tyres and modified aerodynamics have all been left off the Altea.

Seat says the CO2 savings these offer would not make the car’s overall output low enough to drop it into a lower tax bracket and were therefore not worth applying at this stage. Think of it as an Ecomotive light.

What’s it like?

Impressive. The Altea has always been a competent performer, with decent dynamic ability, but it makes even more sense with the Ecomotive badge attached to the back of it. The 1.6 TDI engine certainly allows it to mix with the class best.

The engine is smooth and refined both in town and on the motorway, while there’s enough torque to ensure swift progress through the gears. Its 104bhp is capable of powering its 1405kg weight and its rare to find yourself in a position where you feel wanting more.

The dynamics are unusually sharp for the class, with its ride quality smooth and soft without ever becoming intrusive. Tyre noise can be an issue though, particularly on motorways.

The XL offers spacious interior, especially for those in the back. It lacks the seven-seat flexibility of some of its rivals (its platform won’t allow it), but its large boot space partly compensates for this.

The raised driving position offers a good view of the road and the steering wheel is both reach and rake adjustable. One problem, however, is its large A-pillars, which really impede visibility especially at junctions and going around sharper corners. Rear visibility is also a flaw.

Should I buy one?

Other more polluting Alteas were never likely to crop up on many buyers shopping lists, but with equipped the 1.6 TDI engine, mixing with the improved performance, fuel economy and tax savings, the Altea certainly now makes a stronger case for itself.

The XL model is worth investing the extra £500 over the standard Altea due to the increased space and no noticeable compromise in performance or economy. Its competitive pricing (tipped to be £16,500 for the standard model) makes the Altea a worthy competitor in its class.

What’s more, its more established (and expensive) mainstream rivals including the Volkswagen Touaran and Vauxhall Zafira can’t match its emissions figure. If economy and efficiency are your primary concerns, then the Ecomotive Altea could well be mini MPV for you.

Join the debate

Comments
10

4 December 2009

"One problem, however, is its large A-pillars, which really impede visibility especially at junctions and going around sharper corners. Rear visibility is also a flaw."

It's still considerably better than its sibling Leon, which at times can be plain dangerous!

As a package though, the Altea is a much under rated car full stop. These enhancements only go to making it even better!

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

4 December 2009

[quote TegTypeR]As a package though, the Altea is a much under rated car full stop. These enhancements only go to making it even better![/quote]

Completely agree, its a very good buy, and they have addressed the interior quality issues with the recent facelift.

4 December 2009

[quote J400uk]

[quote TegTypeR]As a package though, the Altea is a much under rated car full stop. These enhancements only go to making it even better![/quote]

Completely agree, its a very good buy, and they have addressed the interior quality issues with the recent facelift.

[/quote]

Agree with you both but do you know if they have resolved the issue of terrible road noise?

I quite like it but for somebody like me who spends alot of time on the motorway the road noise was a real issue.

4 December 2009

[quote Mark Tisshaw] Afraid not, Lee. Road noise is a problem and this was in Spain, so more than likely to be enhanced in the UK.[/quote]

The road noise problems on Altea's are predominantly tyre related. I can't remember which brand they use as standard fit (I think it is Bridgestone and it's some strange fitment to boot) but change them for something like a Michelin and the car gets transformed.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

4 December 2009

[quote Mark Tisshaw]Afraid not, Lee. Road noise is a problem and this was in Spain, so more than likely to be enhanced in the UK.[/quote]

Thanks for the replies Mark/teg. I do like the Altea XL and it would be a cheaper leasing alternative for me now that drain on my resources number 2 has arrived, but high levels of road noise is a real issue for me (it drives me nuts!) and is one of the reasons I went for my current C5.

4 December 2009

No doubt the tyres contribute but I thought the road noise problems on Ecomotives were mainly down to reduced soundproofing for lighter weight?

4 December 2009

[quote tonym911]No doubt the tyres contribute but I thought the road noise problems on Ecomotives were mainly down to reduced soundproofing for lighter weight?[/quote]

That may contribute but out of the factory at least, the Altea has always been louder than it's rivals.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

4 December 2009

Mark

Not wishing to brown-nose here, try to curry favour and being completely off-topic - it's really nice that you reply on the threads in this forum! It's nice to have certain things clarified easily.

5 December 2009

[quote TegTypeR]

"One problem, however, is its large A-pillars, which really impede visibility especially at junctions and going around sharper corners. Rear visibility is also a flaw."

It's still considerably better than its sibling Leon, which at times can be plain dangerous!

As a package though, the Altea is a much under rated car full stop. These enhancements only go to making it even better!

[/quote]

The Altea may have a lot going for it, but the visibility issues are such that they ruin an otherwise very good car. It's not under rated, it's flawed.

20 January 2010

Sorry Autocar but have you really driven the 1.6 Tdi Altea XL ? Yes you may only pay £35 tax but you will be in for such an unispiring drive that you may fall asleep !

I have the 1.9Tdi and the performance is underwhelming in that and if you put the climatic air conditioning on you will need to leave plenty of space when overtaking.

The 1.6Tdi common rail engine only just manages to perform adaquately in the Ibiza which I think is on the Polo running gear. Having said that it is a smooth and very quiet power unit.

Being underpowered the fuel economy also suffers. If you get 44mpg you will be doing well so what you save in road tax you will pay in fuel duty. This economy is far worse than some of the earlier Tdi engines fitted in the VW/SEAT range

The Altea XL needs power of at least 130bhp for the engine to be on top of the job, to give relaxed driving and to return decent mpg.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run