20 August 2007

Offroad first for the Freetrack

Seat makes a car that's an SUV. Sort of

SEAT Altea Freetrack 4

Seat announced prices for the forthcoming AlteaFreetrack 4 last week - heralding yet another niche in an already complicated sector.

Basically, the Freetrack 4 is a lifted Altea XL with 4x4 capability and a load of plastic body bits - but it's probably more appropriate than it sounds.

For a start, it has the high driving position (up 40mm over stock) that so many people love, but not the associated overall mass.

It can pull you out of a sodden gymkhana every other Sunday with its Haldex-clutch 4x4 arrangement (it can lob a 50/50 split at the axles), but doesn't drag around enough hardware to conquer the Atlas mountains on the off chance.

It comes with either a 2.0-litre TSI with 198bhp for £20,495 (the Golf GTI engine), or a more sensible 2.0-litre TDi with 168bhp for £21,395 - so it's not as expensive as a traditional big SUV but has the legs to outdo all of them. Try 0-62mph in 7.5secs for the petrol, or 8.7 for the derv-burner.

And it's more efficient at the pumps - with respective figures of 30.1mpg and 41.5mpg.

People like the rugged look on this stuff; cars like the Renault Scenic Conquest, Freetrack and Scoda Octavia Scout all point to the fact that drivers want something butch, but without the hassle.

The rise of the SUV-like-ability-but-based-on-something-smaller continues. Must think of a snappier name than that...

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