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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Spacious; good value; plenty of kit

Against Poor visibility; some reliability issues

Verdict Stylish and well-equipped, but not a proper MPV

Go for… 1.6TDI

Avoid… 1.6 16v

Seat Altea Hatchback
  • 1. The 1.6-litre models frequently suffer from early failures of the timing belt tensioner
  • 2. Early diesels suffered fuel pump leaks. Affected vehicles were recalled, so check this work has been done
  • 3. There's plenty of space - even an under-floor storage area in the boot
  • 4. The extra-thick front pillars make it difficult to see around corners
  • 5. The Altea doesn't have the individually removable seats of real MPVs
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Seat Altea Hatchback full review with expert trade views

Seat called the Altea a multi-sports vehicle when it was launched, but in reality it's more of a tall hatchback with MPV aspirations.

The Altea's seats aren't removable and the seats don't fold down flat in to the floor, however there is plenty space as well as an under-floor storage area in the boot.

The Altea has a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, along with ISOFIX child seat mounting points as standard.

The standard suspension set-up gives good body control and a comfortable ride, whereas the sports suspension option gives much firmer dynamics that are made noticeably worse when combined with 17-inch alloys wheels.

Poor visibility and cabin noise are a problem for drivers; the thick pillars between the windscreen and side windows obstruct the driver's view, while the tiny rear screen makes reversing difficult. Cabin- and road noise become a source of annoyance at motorway speeds.

If you need more space than the standard car offers, the Altea XL is 18.7cm longer. This brings more practicality and improves luggage space from 409 litres to 532 litres. The rear bench can also slide backwards and forwards to favour legroom or loadspace.

Trade view

Avoid the Sports models with 17-inch alloy wheels, unless you don’t mind an overly firm ride and lots of road noise.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The 100bhp1.6-litre petrol engine is quiet and refined, but is a little short on grunt and needs to be worked hard when the car’s fully laden. There’s also a 148bhp 2.0-litre FSI model – which brings more oomph – and a turbocharged 197bhp 2.0-litre. In 2009, an 84bhp 1.4-litre and a 132bhp 1.4 FSI were introduced, with a 103bhp 1.2-litre added later.

There are 103bhp 1.9 DI and 2.0-litre diesels with between 138bhp and 168bhp. However, the 103bhp 1.6-litre Ecomotive diesel is the best package, with decent performance and low running costs.

Entry-level Essence trim is too basic, but Reference comes with air-con, electric front windows and a CD player, while Stylance adds alloy wheels, cruise control and rear electric windows. S Emocion adds alloys, but SE gets climate control and rear electric windows. Sport trim has firmer suspension, upgraded alloys and sports seats.

The Altea family was face-lifted in the summer of 2009, with an updated nose and headlights, and smoother diesel engines. All trims were improved, with air-con, stability control and curtain airbags added as standard.

The excellent DSG semi-automatic gearbox is available as an option.

Trade view

Good value on the used market, with diesel models the best all rounders.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The most efficient Altea is the 1.6 TDI Ecomotive, which uses stop-start engine technology to help give an average of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 119g/km. The 1.9-litre diesel isn’t far behind, with an average of 52.3mpg and emissions of 146g/km. The 2.0-litre engines average between 46.3mpg- 49.6mpg and emissions from 149g/km to 169g/km

The smaller-capacity petrol models are also fairly frugal. The 1.2 TSI averages 49.6mpg and 132g/km, the 1.4 TSI does 44.1mpg and 152g/km, while the 1.4-litre does an average of 43.5mpg and emits 152g/km of CO2.

It's not such a pretty picture with the larger petrols: the 1.6 averages only 36.7mpg and CO2 of 187g/km, while the 2.0-litre models both hover around 34mpg and 200g/km.

The Altea ranges from insurance group 7-26, while servicing costs are broadly in line with cars such as the Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra.

Trade view

Avoid the Sports models with 17-inch alloy wheels, unless you don’t mind an overly firm ride and lots of road noise.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The Altea isn’t as solidly built as some Seats, with a number of faults reported.

The main reliability issue with the petrols is the plastic timing belt tensioner – with both the 1.4 and 1.6-litre models at risk. If it fails, the engine could sustain serious damage, so consider having it replaced.

Early diesels have suffered fuel pump leaks, which resulted in a recall – so, check the service history to see if this work has been carried out. Diesel engines can also suffer an oil pump problem that can seriously damage the engine.

There are numerous other niggles, including faulty cruise control systems, problems with air-con and dodgy diesel turbos. The stability control and ABS system can also malfunction. There have also been reports of issues with some DSG gearboxes.

Trade view

Good value on the used market, with diesel models the best all rounders.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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