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The Top Gear car review: Seat Altea/Altea XL

£19,290£20,160
3/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Good-looking, practical, decent engines

Against: 

Ride not great, plus it's getting on a bit now...
Not so much an MPV as a big hatch. Pretty good where it counts, but there are better options out there.

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Our choice

Seat

2.0 TDI CR SE Copa 5dr

£20,090
N/A
58mpg
9.70s
140bhp
129g/km

What we say: 

The Altea is a reasonably good looking, practical MPV. But it's getting on a bit now

What is it?

Result of putting a Leon on the rack and making it taller. Stretch it lengthways too and you get the Altea XL. Make it chunkier and you get the now-departed Freetrack 4. Keep up. It’s a Golf SV rival which is OK, but we’re not really sure why you would buy one. Decent boot, decent engines, but just get a normal hatch, OK? And it’s starting to feel its considerable years now, too. 

Driving

The longer and higher you build a car, the soggier its handling becomes, so sure enough the Altea and XL aren’t as agile as the Leon. But they aren’t total misery either, provided you don’t mind a bit of body roll. They steer accurately and tell you what’s going on.

The 1.6 petrol is a bit of a damp squib. For diesel buyers, the vast majority, there are the usual Seat range of effective chuggers.

On the inside

In true VW Group style you get an excellent driving position, adjustable for anyone, and firm spine-friendly seats. Seat is good at doing ride comfort too.

All Alteas have sliding reclining rear seats and bags of space. It’s what they are invented for. There are heaps of mini storage spaces too, with some models including ceiling consoles. 

The dash has some hard plastics, just to provide some differentiation between Seats and the more expensive VWs. But the fundamentals feel reassuringly sound.

Owning

The diesels are pretty thrifty. Depreciation, servicing and so on are all on par for the class: compare them with a Ford C-max and you’ll get the idea.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
2.0 TDI CR I Tech 5dr
9.7s 129g/km 57.6 140 £20,090
The cheapest
1.6 TDI CR Ecomotive I Tech 5dr
12.2s 119g/km 62.8 105 £19,290
The greenest
1.6 TDI CR Ecomotive I Tech 5dr
12.2s 119g/km 62.8 105 £19,290

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

8/10

Volkswagen Golf Estate

£18,890£33,350
Golf Estate. It's no less spacious, and better in most every way