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 Freetrack 4. Keep up. It's a Golf Plus 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?
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 Freetrack has a more muck-proof cabin too.
The dash has some hard plastics, just to provide some differentiation between Seats and the more expensive VWs. But the fundamentals feel reassuringly sound.
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.