Seat Altea XL 1.9 TDi (2006) review

Published:16 October 2006

Seat Altea XL 1.9 TDi (2006) review
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Altea XL. Sounds like a car for the larger person. What’s it about?

Not to be too technical it’s basically an Altea with a bigger boot.

And that’s it?

Well, it’s the same as the Altea up to the B-pillars but you also get roof rails as standard and split tail lights. The main difference is the extra boot length of 18.7cm compared with Altea. The rear seats can be moved back an extra 2cm, while luggage space increases from 409 litres in the standard Altea to 532 litres in the XL. They look very similar though.

So it is just a big Altea. What’s the point of it and who will buy it?

It seems size can be everything. It’s for families who want extra luggage space – and believe me, as a parent, I’m well aware of how much family-related paraphernalia can quickly fill boot space. SEAT bosses are quick to point out that it offers more space than any other car in its sector. Quite what sector that is though we’re not sure. They claim it’s neither estate nor MPV preferring the description of ‘estate-like’.

So how much does an extra 18.7cm worth of boot space cost and what models can I choose from?

Prices are still to be confirmed but expect to pay a £500 premium over the standard Altea which means the standard XL should cost around £12.5k. The three models available at launch in January are the 101bhp 1.6-litre petrol, 104bhp 1.9-litre TDI and 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesels. The range will increase shortly afterwards with a tiptronic auto linked to the 148bhp 2.0-litre FSI, a blown 1.8-litre T FSI with 158bhp and the super-torquey 2.0-litre TDI 168bhp, which should ensure you make the school run in time. There’ll be a good mix of manual, automatic and DSG transmissions.

Seat prides itself on being a sporty brand so what’s the Altea XL like to drive?

It has softer suspension than the Altea but its on-road characteristics are fine and it handles well. The 1.9-litre TDI Stylance, expected to be the best-selling model, was wonderfully responsive and very comfortable. Bear in mind though not many drivers will seek a rally car driving experience, especially when they’ve got their little darlings safely secured in the back.

But won’t it steal sales away from the regular Altea?

Seat bosses admit it will. But its research also identified some potential customers shunned a regular Altea because it simply wasn’t big enough for their needs – so the manufacturer’s confident of securing extra sales too. The XL model is expected to account for about 35 per cent of all Altea sales next year.

Verdict

If you’ve got children and need the extra room on offer then the Altea XL is worthy of consideration. There simply is no other reason why anyone would buy one. It’s well-suited as a vehicle you can load up to the hilt before heading off to a gite in Bordeaux. Shame about those constant cries of ‘are we nearly there yet?’ coming from the back though.

Specs

Price when new: £15,250
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1896cc 8v four, 104bhp @ 4000rpm, 184lb ft @ 1900rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 12.6sec 0-62mph, 114mph, 52.3mpg
Weight / material: 1444kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4467/1768/1581

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  • Seat Altea XL 1.9 TDi (2006) review
  • Seat Altea XL 1.9 TDi (2006) review
  • Seat Altea XL 1.9 TDi (2006) review
  • Seat Altea XL 1.9 TDi (2006) review
  • Seat Altea XL 1.9 TDi (2006) review
  • Seat Altea XL 1.9 TDi (2006) review
  • Seat Altea XL 1.9 TDi (2006) review
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