Seat has altered the Altea, with a redesigned rear end that boosts practicality. The Altea XL is similar in concept to Volkswagen's enlarged Golf, the Plus, but the Seat is an even better load-lugger. It goes on UK sale in February 2007. Despite the stretch, Seat has not taken its chance to create a seven seat Altea: the focus is on carrying cargo. So both versions are five seaters, which appears an oversight considering the success of Vauxhall's Zafira. Seat says its ageing, full-size MPV, the Alhambra, caters for these customers.
The inside story
The XL is 187mm longer than the regular Altea. The wheelbase is no bigger: all that stretch is in the rear overhang. The result is 532 litres of boot space behind the rear seats, or a whopping 1604 litres if you fold them flat. The rear seats also slide back and forth by 140mm. Bring them forwards, and 635 litres of luggage can be accommodated behind the bulkhead. Slide them the other way, and it's the rear passengers who benefit from extra legroom.
What else is new?
The front end is identical to the regular Altea's, but the rear is revised. New rear lamps now bisect the hatch opening, and the rear screen also wraps around the sides. Roof rails are also fitted as standard, in case you can't cram everything inside. Perhaps that's where the sixth and seventh passengers go...? XL power comes from a choice of six engines. The three diesel engines are: 104bhp 1.9 TDI; 138bhp 2.0 TDI; and 168bhp 2.0-litre TDI. The petrols comprise: 99bhp 1.6; 148bhp 2.0; and 158bhp 1.8-litre turbo. The latter is a new unit, a downsized version of the 2.0-litre, equipped with direct injection FSI technology to conserve fuel. Expect the XL 1.6 to cost around £12,300, when sales kick off in February 2007. That's around a £500 premium over a regular Altea.