The Seat Altea FR striking appearance incorporates all of the principal features of the show car, including a restyled front end with new bumper. At the car's rear, another distinctive, sportier bumper, chromed twin exhaust pipes and the letters 'FR' announce this model's identity clearly to other road users . Finally, imposing new five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels complete the car's purposeful appearance and help to distinguish it from the rest of the Altea range.
The interior pulses with the sporty ambience that is typical of FR models, with a new-look dashboard and a driver's cockpit boasting a host of new features; for example, the steering wheel and gearshift lever are both new and exclusive to this model. The instrument cluster with its white background is also special to this model, while the letters 'FR' adorn the steering wheel, gearshift lever, instrument cluster and seats.
At the heart of the Seat Altea FR is its engine. Based on the 103-kW (140-hp) 2.0 TDI unit, it has 125 kW (170 hp) of power on tap and is partnered by a six-speed manual gearbox whose ratios have been fine-tuned for this model. The turbocharger's geometry has been optimised, while the engine now includes high-pressure direct diesel injection technology in the form of the Piezo Pump Nozzle system with piezoelectric injectors.
The engine complies with Euro IV emissions standards, with a DPF diesel particulate filter system also fitted for good measure.
The Agile Chassis of the Seat Altea has undergone careful redevelopment in order to better harness the new engine's extra power, which has involved strengthening the main suspension components. The size of the brakes has been increased as well. The Seat Altea FR comes equipped with the latest-generation ABS, ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) including EBA (Emergency Brake Assistance) and TCS (traction control), plus an array of further safety functions to aid the driver.
Sporty styling inside and out
The design showcased by the Seat Altea FR Prototype mirrors the body of the production Seat Altea FR. An identically designed bumper can be found at the front, incorporating an air intake with honeycomb grille that runs along the bumper's full width. At the tail, the bumper is again similar to that sported by the prototype, with a black finish at the bottom and chromed twin tailpipes protruding from the base. The vehicle's body makes discreet use of the FR lettering which only appears at the bottom right of the hatch.
Behind the front wings, the new car's flanks sport the letters 'TDI' painted all in red, to inform passers-by that the 170-hp TDI engine lurks beneath the bonnet, while the door mirrors with silver paint finish are a hallmark of FR models. The 17-inch five-spoke light-alloy wheels are particularly eye-catching. They feature a brand new, very open design which gives a clear view of the imposing brake discs behind and measure 7J x 17". They are shod with 225/45 R 17 tyres.
More liberal use of the FR lettering is made in the Altea's interior, which oozes with the sporty ambience that is typical of FR models. Although the dashboard retains the original design of the regular Seat Altea, it now comes with an fresh look combining grey and black plastic panelling that is pleasant to the touch, while the air vents 'circular surrounds are now black.
The steering wheel and gearshift lever are both new and exclusive to this model. The black leather steering wheel has a three-spoke design, with the letters 'FR' punched into a metal badge on the bottom of the centre spoke. These same letters appear together with the gearshift pattern in a commanding position on the metal-covered gearknob, whose design is quite distinct from that of other Altea models.
The instrument cluster is also new. The markings are the same, but they now appear against a white background, which gives the dials a sportier look, as well as making them even easier to read. The FR lettering appears again in the rev counter situated in the centre of the instrument cluster.
Designed to support the occupant's body as effectively as possible out on the road, the seats are upholstered in a combination of very sporty-looking fabrics and bear the FR emblem at the top of the backrests.
High-performance diesel engine
When it came to the means of propulsion for the first FR version in Seat's new generation of models, diesel power was chosen in preference to petrol. The new engine has been developed from the 103-kW (140-hp) 2.0 TDI unit. The modifications have lifted maximum power to 125 kW (170 hp) at 4,200 rpm, while peak torque has been boosted from 320 to 350 Nm and is available from 1,800 rpm.
In order to bring about this significant jump in power and torque, the turbocharger's geometry has been modified to optimise performance. The injection system's maximum rate of delivery has been increased and a shut-off system incorporated into the intake ducts for the same reason.
The advantages of four-valve technology have been capitalised to the full by adding a system of throttle valves in four of the eight intake ducts, which are able to shut off the four ducts as engine operating conditions change. The shut-off system enables the intake rate and swirl to be adjusted to maintain optimum fuel distribution inside the combustion chamber at all times. The result is faster and more efficient combustion. This is another factor in the engine's ability to produce superior performance whilst still complying with Euro IV emissions standards.
New fuel supply system and particulate filter
The key modification has been the inclusion of high-pressure diesel direct injection technology in the form of the Piezo Pump Nozzle system. The new system consists of a number of piezoelectric injectors whose flexible operation opens up far greater scope for perfecting injection timing and quantity. The benefits are superior acoustics without any loss of performance, along with cleaner emissions.
Despite the fact that the new injection system already complies with Euro IV emissions standards, it goes one step further by adding the DPF diesel particulate filter system. This operates without the need for additives by using the heat from exhaust gases to regenerate the system, which is why the filter is positioned so close to the engine. Not only is this filter maintenance-free, it has been designed to outlast the vehicle.
A six-speed manual gearbox, with specially tuned ratios, complements the Altea FR's potent diesel engine. As a result, acceleration from standstill and in-gear acceleration is on a par with a sporty, petrol-powered car - this is demonstrated by the brisk 8.6 seconds the car needs to reach 100 km/h from a standstill. The sub 30 second time for a one kilometre standing start makes equally impressive reading. In-gear acceleration is also noteworthy with 8.9 and 11.5 seconds to accelerate from 80 up to 120 km/h in fifth and sixth gears respectively.
As remarkable as the car's performance figures might be, they are outshone by its fuel consumption figures, which are more what one would expect from a small, economical car rather than such a high-performance vehicle. Out on the open road, the Seat Altea FR burns just 5.2 litres to cover 100 kilometres, and even in urban areas consumption never exceeds the eight-litre mark. Consumption on the mixed urban and extra-urban cycle is just over six litres per 100 kilometres.
Adapted to sportier demands
The engineering team at the Technical Centre in Martorell have had to carefully redevelop the Agile Chassis of the Seat Altea to properly harness the power of the 125-kW engine. The basic independent suspension concept is the same - MacPherson struts at the front with lower wishbone and a multi-link rear axle - but the front springs have been made about 15% firmer and the anti-roll bars thicker. The front anti-roll bar has been widened from 23 to 23.6 millimetres, while the one at the rear has grown from 19.6 to 21.7 millimetres. As a result of these modifications, the body is now seven millimetres closer to the ground than a Seat Altea with sports suspension.
The electro-mechanically assisted rack-and-pinion steering is the same as that fitted in the Altea, but with modified power assistance and self-centring characteristics to satisfy the demands of the sporty driver. It gives the vehicle a wall-to-wall turning circle of 10.7 metres. The brakes have been increased in size as yet another modification. They now measure 16 inches across at all four wheels and feature internally ventilated discs with a diameter of 312 millimetres at the front and solid 286-millimetre discs at the rear (288 millimetres on the Altea 2.0 TDI 140 CV and 255 millimetres respectively).
As one would expect, drivers of the Seat Altea FR will enjoy the peace of mind offered by the latest-generation ABS with electronic braking force distribution. In addition to this, the new model comes equipped with ESP Electronic Stability Program (which can be deactivated if desired) including EBA Emergency Brake Assistance, TCS traction control plus an array of further functions to aid the driver. These include:
Overboost, which increases brake pressure without any notable change in the force that the driver has to apply to the brake pedal, at times when the system temperature far exceeds normal operating temperatures
The most noteworthy of these safety systems is Driver Steering Recommendation. When the ESP control unit detects the vehicle has entered an unstable situation caused by oversteer, it transmits a signal instructing the steering system's electric motor to turn the steering wheel in the correct direction. The driver senses this as a recommendation, prompting him or her to turn the steering wheel in the recommended direction and stabilise the vehicle. When driving over a dry, asphalted road, the driver barely notices this steering prompt. The system proves most effective when driving along roads offering differing levels of grip on each side of the car, e.g. a surface that is dry on one side and wet on the other.
The principal benefits of ESP featuring Driver Steering Recommendation are improved stability, less directional deviation and a reduction in the vehicle's stopping distance of between 5 and 10 percent. However, the task of this function is merely to recommend a steering manoeuvre to the driver in critical driving situations. This function does not steer the vehicle for the driver - the driver is responsible for controlling the vehicle's steering at all times.
In addition to the features that characterise and distinguish the FR from the rest of the Altea range, such as its exclusive light alloy wheels, the new car boasts comprehensive equipment levels in both comfort and safety.
In terms of safety, all occupants are protected by a full complement of eight airbags: two front airbags, two side airbags in the front, and two curtain airbags which protect both passengers in the front and rear and optionally two side airbags in the rear seats. All five seats are fitted with three-point seatbelts including belt force limiters, while the front seats also benefit from pyrotechnic pre-tensioners. The outer seats in the rear also feature Isofix anchorage points for attaching child seats.
Occupant comfort is cared for by dual-zone climate control, a height-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support control, rear seats with a fore-aft adjustment range of 140 millimetres, and a 60:40 split-folding and reclining backrest. There are also stowage drawers in the base of the front seats, front and rear power windows, remote-controlled central locking, adjustable and electronic folding rear-view mirrors, trip computer, a height- and reach-adjustable steering wheel with audio controls, a radio with CD player, plus a roof-mounted aerial.
Electronic devices for driving
In addition, the Seat Altea FR features numerous driving aids such as dusk sensors to switch the headlamps on and off automatically, rain sensor, tyre-pressure sensor, automatic anti-dazzle rear view mirror, bi-xenon headlamps, 'Coming and Leaving Home' function, cruise control and audible driver-set speed limit warning. To this list other active safety features are to be added, such as ABS, TCS and ESP and equipment features such as the installation of a Bluetooth hands-free phone system with steering wheel controls and a voice-operated control system.
The comprehensive standard features list can be further enhanced with a wide choice of optional equipment.
Dynamic navigation system with 6.5 inch high resolution colour screen