One area where the Seat doesn’t disappoint is with the handling characteristics, demonstrating much of the appeal also found in the Leon which shares its MKV Volkswagen Golf platform. Admittedly enjoying a favourite stretch of road from high-up in the Altea’s cabin initially feels slightly bizarre, but there’s genuine poise and enjoyment on offer. The Altea is firmly suspended and exhibits fine body control, if not quite the same effortless flow as a Ford Focus C-Max can muster. It does muster a keenness to change direction though, with little body roll and a resistance to understeer right up until the limit of grip is eventually breached.
As is unfortunately the norm with such systems, the electro-hydraulic power steering offers very little feedback, but the weighting is well judged and the rack is precise off the dead-ahead, allowing the Altea to be easily placed on the road.
Overall, driving the Altea is an enjoyable experience, offering considerably more entertainment than many of its traditional MPV rivals, and indeed some family hatchbacks too. The pay-off is a ride that can verge on the harsh, especially around town. How you view this depends on your priorities as an MPV buyer and driver. Overall, the Altea’s good body control helps keep the cabin level and relaxed over road surface undulations, but around town it can fidget over broken and rutted surfaces although never to an annoying degree. And even when driven back to back, the extra bulk of the XL is all but unnoticeable.