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?
A compact MPV isn’t the most obvious platform for a prototype EV what with its weight and the fatter face it presents to the wind, but this project is more about Seat preparing itself to offer EVs rather than providing an amp-powered Seat Altea XL Electric Ecomotive in the near future.
What’s it like?
That this car is a less than ideal carrier of an electric powertrain is confirmed by a modest 84mph top speed and its sauntering 12 second advance to 62mph. But never mind all that. The aim here is for Seat to gain real-world experience of developing, building and operating EVs, and to refine their functionality.
And it’s here that the Altea is at its most interesting, because of its many drive modes. Besides normal there’s eco, which limits its top speed to 78mph and runs the air conditioner’s compressor more leanly, and there’s also a range mode, designed to extract the last meter of motion from the battery. It cuts the compressor altogether, confines you to 71mph and prunes the Seat’s accelerative thrust between 22mph and 47mph.
You can also select ‘S’ to increase the strength of regenerative braking – handy in cities or on twisty roads – or use the paddle shift buttons on the wheel to call up finer gradations of deceleration.
All these means of fine-tuning the driveline may seem unnecessary, but they certainly add entertainment to the potentially duller business of driving electrically, and in the case of that range mode could make the difference between getting to the vital next power socket, or not.
Should I buy one?
In plain driving terms the Seat Altea feels much like other EVs, if not as brisk, but this prototype mostly ensures that Seat is ready for the rise of amp, volt and ohm-powered personal transportation.
Seat Altea XL Electric Ecomotive
Price: NA; Top speed: 84mph; 0-62mph: 12.0sec; Economy: NA; Co2 emissions: zero local emissions; Kerbweight: 1660kg; Engine: electric motor; Power: 113bhp; Torque: 199lb ft; Batteries: Lithium-ion, 26kWh; Gearbox: single speed; Range: 84 miles