The Seat Altea now comes in only one trim level – iTech – after S and SE Copa were ditched. This means the Altea now starts at £19,345 – where before it kicked off at just under £18k – and tops out at £20,935. However, it now gets more standard equipment than before and there are some healthy dealer discounts to be had.
What’s the 2014 Seat Altea iTech like inside?
The iTech equipment roster now includes dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers and lights, sat-nav, an eight-speaker DAB radio, Bluetooth, overhead storage bins, tinted rear windows, sliding rear seats and a double boot floor as standard. You also get 16-inch alloy wheels with a Titanium finish, front and rear parking sensors, and roof rails.
Extra trim aside, it's business as usual, which means there’s lots of space in the cabin for adult passengers, and the rear seats slide, split and fold flat. However, they don't tumble, and can't be removed completely like they can in other MPVs. That said, the split-level boot is deep and large, especially in the longer XL model.
The driver’s seat is height-adjustable and the steering wheel moves for reach and rake, so you should be able to get comfortable. The controls are logically placed and are close to hand, but there are no soft-touch plastics. Visibility is poor: the small windows between the windscreen and front doors are of little use, while the upsweep of the rearmost side windows creates a blind spot when reversing.
What’s the Seat Altea iTech like to drive?
We tried the 103bhp 1.6-litre TDI Ecomotive engine with the standard five-speed manual gearbox (a DSG automatic 'box is also available, as is a 2.0-litre diesel engine with 138bhp). Performance is adequate in town, but you need to stir the slick gearshift to keep up with faster-moving traffic out of town. Unfortunately, the engine doesn't enjoy being revved. It's noisy at startup and just gets more vocal as you pile on the revs, especially above 2000rpm. At least few vibrations make their way into the cabin.
Engine noise isn't too intrusive in fifth gear on the motorway, but road noise is all too evident and there's some wind noise from around the door mirrors.
Firm suspension keeps body movements in check on B-roads, and the steering is reasonably quick, but the ride is rather unforgiving over motorway expansion joints and on broken surfaces in town. In addition, the high-set brake pedal seems like a minor inconvenience at first, but it means you have to lift your foot off the accelerator pedal and place it on the middle one, rather than sliding your foot across. It becomes particularly tiresome in town.
Should I buy one?
Despite a higher starting price, the higher kit count does make the Altea more appealing than before. However, the Citroen C4 Picasso has a much classier and more practical interior, so that's what we'd spend our money on. If you want a five-seat MPV that puts driving dynamics above cabin practicality, though, the Ford C-Max strikes a better ride/handling balance than the Altea.
What Car? says...
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £19,345
Torque 184lb ft
0-60mph 12.2 seconds
Top speed 114mph
Fuel economy 62.8mpg