SEAT Altea Freetrack 4 2.0 TDI

SEAT's Altea XL people carrier has evolved into a vehicle that is more versatile and aesthetically appealing.

  • SEAT’s 2.0-litre TDI is quite noisy and unrefined.
  • Despite its shorter wheelbase, Altea has greater rear legroom than Scenic.

Half people carrier and half off-roader, the latest SEAT has been designed with leisure pursuits and the great outdoors in mind. But that doesn’t mean the styling has been ignored, as it boasts the distinctive and sporty looks that have become a trademark for the Spanish brand.

In fact, we think the Freetrack 4 is a more attractive design than the Altea XL on which it’s based. At the front, it shares the same nose as the Leon and Altea. But what sets it apart are the tough-looking body enhancements and wheelarches, along with an extra 40mm in ride height and the unique 17-inch alloy wheels.

It’s not totally successful – we’re not keen on the abrupt way in which the front bumper meets the bonnet either side of the grille. However, thanks to the chunky rear, it doesn’t appear as ungainly as the XL. It’s far more aggressive and rugged than the Scenic Conquest, and looks good in the Luna Grey finish of our test car, too. Brighter paintwork tends not to suit it as well.

It’s clearly an off-roader, though, and to accommodate the four-wheel-drive system, the rear axle and suspension have been adapted, while the fuel tank has been reshaped and repositioned. The knock-on effect is that, with the seats in place, the load area is 42 litres smaller than the Altea XL’s, at 490 litres – although it’s still larger than the Renault’s.

As in the Scenic, the rear seats slide forward to increase luggage space. But while legroom is better in the Freetrack, it’s still a bit of a squeeze with three adults in the back as the middle seat is narrow. It’s not as comfortable as the two outer rear chairs.

Still, the rest of the seats offer good support, while the cabin is well built and the driving position excellent. Features such as the three-spoke steering wheel give a sporty feel, and that’s even more evident on the move. Even though it rides higher than the Altea XL, this car rarely drives like an off-roader. Firm suspension ensures it corners precisely, too, with body roll kept well in check. There is lots of grip, and overall it’s more composed than the Scenic, particularly on twisting roads.

The SEAT is surprisingly capable in the rough as well. Although it won’t match a true SUV, it deals with slippery surfaces and rutted inclines well. The Haldex four-wheel-drive system is electronic, which means there’s no manual control. When it cuts in, up to 50 per cent of the drive can be directed to the rear wheels.

In normal conditions, all the power is transferred to the front tyres, and thanks to the punchy 168bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine, the Freetrack is no slouch. It covered the sprint from 0-60mph in only 8.5 seconds, which is faster than the 10-second time recorded by the Renault. The powerplant, which is also used in the Leon and Altea FR, isn’t the last word in refinement – in fact, it’s quite coarse – but it provides great in-gear performance.

While the power delivery is rather sudden, and vibration is noticeable through the clutch pedal, the Freetrack is excellent on the motorway. There is a little more road noise than is evident in the Renault, but you’ll rarely need to change gear.

A price tag of £21,395 leaves the SEAT looking expensive – that represents a premium of £2,260 over the Scenic. However, the Freetrack 4 does come very well equipped as standard, with rain-sensing wipers, climate control, part-leather seats and folding mirrors included. These are all optional extras on the Renault.

Details

Price: £21,395Model tested: SEAT Altea Freetrack 4 2.0 TDIChart position: 1WHY: The new Freetrack crossover is designed to appeal to families wanting enhanced versatility.

Economy

A more powerful engine, heavier kerbweight and the on-demand 4WD system all count against the Freetrack. It proved the least economical of this pair, returning 35.3mpg with us.

Residuals

This market has yet to catch on with used buyers, as neither car has great residuals. But the SEAT is way ahead of the Renault, keeping 38.3 per cent of its value over three years.

Servicing

Costs have yet to be released for the Freetrack 4. The Altea XL TDI uses the same engine, and three checks total £640. We’d expect the Freetrack’s bill to be higher due to the 4WD system.

Tax

the SEAT emits 19g/km more CO2 than the Scenic, at 179g/km. Add the Freetrack’s higher list price, and it’s an expensive business choice, with lower-band owners paying a hefty £1,177.

Most Popular

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time
Vauxhall Astra teaser 1
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time

The new Vauxhall Astra will get electrified powertrains and a more premium image
8 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp
Tesla Model S facelift - front
Tesla Model S

New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp

Range-topping version of the Tesla Model S officially unveiled, with a sprint time of 0-60mph in less than two seconds
10 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle
Volkswagen T7 Multivan - front
Volkswagen Caravelle

New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle

The Volkswagen T7 Multivan MPV switches to the MQB platform and adds plug-in hybrid technology
10 Jun 2021
'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'
Car manufacturing
Opinion

'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'

Steve Fowler points out the fresh issues facing global car manufacturing
9 Jun 2021
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Car group tests

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300

The capable Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport goes up against its new Cupra Leon 300 sibling in this hot hatch battle
12 Jun 2021
New 2021 Lexus NX arrives with firm’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain
Lexus NX - front action
Lexus NX SUV

New 2021 Lexus NX arrives with firm’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain

The new Lexus NX 350h features a standard hybrid set-up, while the NX 450h+ gets a plug-in hybrid powertrain capable of 40 miles of pure electric powe…
12 Jun 2021
LEC launches affordable EV conversion for classic Mini
LEC MINI Electric
MINI

LEC launches affordable EV conversion for classic Mini

The conversion sees the Mini’s A-Series engine replaced with a dinky electric motor and a 20kWh battery for a range of 70 miles in the city
10 Jun 2021
Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features
Audi S5
Audi

Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features

Almost every car in Audi’s line-up has received a tweak, with major updates including Amazon Alexa integration and a Sonos stereo
11 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Porsche Macan facelift prototype review
Porsche Macan prototype - front
Porsche Macan

New Porsche Macan facelift prototype review

We get behind the wheel of a prototype version of the facelifted Porsche Macan SUV
13 Jun 2021
'GM taking over Honda would be a disaster'
Honda opinion
Opinion

'GM taking over Honda would be a disaster'

Mike Rutherford is worried about Honda's future, despite its recent motorsport success
6 Jun 2021
Mustang Mach-E: your next company car?
A red Ford Mustang Mach-E parked
Advertisement Feature

Mustang Mach-E: your next company car?

Thinking of getting a new company car? Here’s why you should consider putting the Mustang Mach-E on your shortlist
11 Jun 2021