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
What is it?
Seat’s first all-wheel drive model; the family-oriented Altea XL MPV made rugged with the addition of body cladding, raised ride height and VW’s excellent 4x4 system.
We've already tested the 2.0 TDI Freetrack 4, so for our UK first drive we tested the petrol 2.0-litre TSI.
What’s it like?
Very good, but then it needs to be with competition from the likes of the Honda CR-V and Land Rover Freelander.
The Leon FR engine, teamed with the Altea's nicely weighted controls and comfortable ride, gives more focused on-road dynamics than any soft-roader.
Overtaking is easy, body-roll is minimal and despite a lack of feedback through the steering wheel, the Freetrack is fun on a B-road and relaxing on the motorway. It will also surpass any off-road needs that are required, though the diesel's extra torque makes it a significantly better off-roader.
Most buyers investigating this class will find the 2.0 TSI's greatest benefits in its refinement and performance, but the diesels better economy will make it the default choice.
Standard specification includes roof-mounted TV-screen, auxiliary inputs, cruise control, climate control and parking sensors.
Should I buy one?
The Freetrack is hard to justify with the Otavia Scout costing £3000 less, and the Freelander only £500 more. But add the spec of the Seat to the Landie and the gap stretches to well over £2000 and the Octavia doesn't have the same performance or standard equipment.
If you want a car with hatchback dynamics, MPV practicality, good levels of kit and 4x4 ability, this is it.