The Seat Altea XL is 18.7 centimetres longer than the Altea. The logical result of this is significantly increased interior space, flexibility and load capacity. In the new model, load capacity has increased to 532 litres compared with 409 in the Altea. However, if the seats are moved forward 14 centimetres, the boot size increases to 635 litres: the largest in its class.
As regards passenger space, the Seat Altea XL offers attractive solutions, such as the option of moving the rear seats, not only 14 centimetres forward as already mentioned, but also another two centimetres back, which results in more space for the rear passengers.
As for the driver and front passenger seats, the Seat Altea XL offers the same benefits as the rest of the Altea range. The height of both seats is the optimum for perfect control and road visibility, as well as providing easy accessibility. All this is achieved without compromising the vehicle's performance, as Seat's Agile Chassis (more details to follow) makes driving the Seat Altea XL as good as or better than driving any estate car with a lower centre of gravity.
The Seat Altea XL's practicality comes particularly to the fore in terms of its interior details. Firstly, in the numerous storage compartments which are located throughout the interior, but also in the small innovations like the luggage compartment cover which folds up at a single touch, the trays for the rear seats similar to those in a plane or the previously mentioned rear seat adjustment range of up to 16 centimetres.
Aesthetically, the rear section of the Seat Altea XL is what really sets it apart. A particularly striking feature are the generously sized rear lights which extend along the tailgate, giving it the robust appearance of an upmarket car. Also, elements such as the roof rails stand out, adding the feel of a family car to their unquestionable practicality.
As is only to be expected, the Seat Altea XL offers a high degree of safety, both active and passive. Active safety is assured by the ABS, TCS and ESP systems with emergency brake assistance. In addition to this, the previously mentioned Agile Chassis offers outstanding stability and performance for this type of vehicle.
When it comes to passive safety, the Seat Altea XL boasts up to eight airbags: six as standard with rear side airbags as an option. In addition to the airbags, the Seat Altea XL has other safety features such as three-point seat belts or Isofix mountings for a child seat. As a member of the Seat Altea family, the Altea XL has the maximum EuroNCAP passenger safety rating - 5 stars.
The Seat Altea XL range makes it possible for any user to find the version which best meets his or her needs.
In terms of engines, the Seat Altea XL comes in two petrol versions: 1.6 (102 hp) and 2.0 FSI (150 hp) - only available with six-speed Tiptronic gearbox. The diesel versions are represented by the familiar 1.9 TDI (105 hp), 2.0 TDI (140 hp) - with the option of a six-speed DSG gearbox - and the 2.0 TDI (170 hp).
There is a choice of three equipment levels: Reference, Stylance and Sport-up.
All offer standard features such as air conditioning, MP3 radio with Aux-in and six speakers, tyre pressure monitoring, 16" steel wheels, black roof rails, cruise control and trip computer, electric windows front and rear, electric door mirrors with parking position, flexible luggage cover and height-adjustable driver's seat, amongst others. In terms of safety, six airbags are offered as standard together with ABS and TCS from the Reference equipment level upwards.
A distinct family resemblance
As with all models in the new Seat generation, the Altea XL displays a series of common "family" features, meaning that the fluid lines of the body retain a design which is sporty, innovative and highly dynamic.
Compared with the rest of the Altea range, the main aesthetic differences are to be found in two areas of the car: the rear and the roof. Besides this, the larger size of the vehicle is evident, and the Seat Altea XL certainly shows to good effect its extra 18.7 centimetres over the Altea.
As for the rear, while still retaining a sporty appearance, the lines of the Seat Altea XL are softened to meet customer requirements in this segment: a vehicle with an innovative and functional look. The rear lights extend longitudinally between the body and the boot lid, giving it the robust feel of an exclusive saloon.
Another of the Altea XL's defining features are the roof rails, standard in all versions (black in the Reference equipment level and silver in the Stylance and Sport-up). These elements give the vehicle much more of a family feel. And this is of course not to forget their practical function. These rails allow luggage and packages weighing up to 75 kilos to be carried on the Seat Altea XL.
The Seat Altea XL debuts some new door mirrors. Their larger size allows improved visibility of the surroundings when manoeuvering.
As for the rest of the car, it is as recognisable as the rest of the Altea range. From the front, there's the distinctive broad chrome-framed grille in the shape of an inverted trapezium, and the double-parabola eye-shaped light units. The bumpers have "honeycomb" shaped air grilles with the fog lights located on either side.
Another characteristic feature of the new generation of Seat models shared by the Altea XL are the wiper arms located on the side pillars of the windscreen. A solution which is exclusive to Seat, and highly appropriate both in terms of aesthetics and aerodynamics.
Finally, along the side, Seat's so-called Dynamic Line is an absolutely essential feature of the Seat Altea XL. It is a line which traces the contours of the front wheel arch, runs smoothly down both doors and culminates at the rear wheel.
Space and light for the whole family
Ever since it was introduced, one of the Seat Altea's characteristic features has been its spacious interior, and the Seat Altea XL is no exception. It makes the most of its extra 18.7 centimetres in length, and now there is more boot capacity and rear passenger space. Many customers who are attracted by the lines of the Seat Altea might well require more space to travel with the family or to pursue their hobbies. We should not forget that a significant number of these customers are couples and families with young children, needing more space to carry the children's equipment and pushchairs or other items such as bicycles, skis and so on.
In this way, the new model provides a capacity of 532 litres as opposed to the 409 litres offered by the Altea. Like the Altea, the XL allows the rear seats to be moved 14 centimetres forward, thereby increasing storage capacity to 635 litres - a gain of 100 litres of extra luggage space. This figure represents a larger boot capacity than any of the Altea XL's competitors. Furthermore, when the rear seats are fully folded down, the Altea XL's load capacity reaches 1,604 litres.
Interior space is also significantly increased in the rear seats - as a new feature in the Altea range, the rear seats can be moved an extra two centimetres towards the rear, affording additional space for rear passengers' legs. In this configuration, boot capacity is 517 litres.
As for the front seats, just like in the Seat Altea, the new Altea XL's seats stand out due to a driving position which is 80 millimetres higher than in a compact car like the LeÃ³n - a plus point for those who like to travel in a higher position. And all this without any deterioration in driving enjoyment, because, despite the Altea XL's higher centre of gravity compared with an estate car, the chassis configuration makes handling the Seat Altea XL a real pleasure.
In common with the Altea range, the prominent feature of the dashboard is the large central console which, slightly curved towards the driver, houses the audio system, and the navigation and climate control systems. In this way the instrument cluster and the console form a unit which surrounds the driver, with each control switch or instrument perfectly visible and within easy reach.
The design of the Altea XL's seats is comfortable and enveloping, and is notable for the large door-side mounting and for the length of the cushion whose front edge fits the back of the knees perfectly. The sliding driver seat is reclining and height adjustable, and also gives adjustable lumbar support (from the Stylance version upwards); combined with the height and depth adjustable steering wheel, this makes it possible to find the perfect driving position. Up to three passengers can ride on the rear seat, which becomes a two-seater by simply lowering the central armrest.
One of the most valuable points in a car such as the Seat Altea XL is its practicality and functionality. And, in this respect, the Altea XL incorporates a number of new features which undoubtedly enhance the ride. One outstanding feature is the parcel shelf system. With just one touch, the shelf rolls up and folds away so that you can make the most of the boot's load capacity. This makes dismantling the shelf easier and above all reduces the size of the shelf for storage.
Another of the Altea XL's new features are the two trays fixed onto the back of the front seats which passengers travelling in the rear of the car can use as drink rests (the trays come complete with hollows for this) or for any other item. The trays come as a standard feature in all the versions of the XL.
A further example of the practical nature of the XL is the new 12V plug located in the boot, instead of on the rear part of the central console. Another plug is located between the two front seats.
Along with these new features, some of the practical solutions offered by the Altea range right from the start are also used in the XL, meaning that the XL still has numerous storage compartments located throughout the passenger compartment.
The driver and front passenger have the following storage spaces within easy reach: a glasses holder on the left, a spacious glove compartment in front of the passenger seat, a hollow and two cup holders beneath the central console, a drawer beneath each front seat and large front door-panel compartments that fits a 1.5-litre bottle. The front armrest also has a two-level glove compartment, with the top level for smaller objects and the bottom level for larger ones or the iPod or USB connection. The front passenger seat also has a door-side compartment which offers enough space for storing a drinks can.
Rear seat passengers have a seat-side compartment, door-panel compartment (which fits a 1-litre bottle), pockets on the back of the front seats, storage space at the end of the centre tunnel and extra storage and two cup holders when the centre armrest is folded.
Everything in the Seat Altea XL is designed to make any journey a truly comfortable experience.
Everything a family needs
When buying a car like the Seat Altea XL, the customer does not just think about space. Safety is another important consideration - when all is said and done, the whole family will be travelling in it. As a member of the Altea family - which, in the important EuroNCAP safety programme, has the maximum 5-star rating for adult passenger protection, 4 stars for child protection and is one of the few vehicles in its segment with a 3-star-rating for pedestrian protection - the Seat Altea XL is one of the very safest cars on the market.
In terms of passive safety, the new XL offers the option of fitting up to eight airbags. Complementing the six as standard across the range (driver, front passenger, front side and curtain airbags), rear side airbags can now also be requested.
As regards active safety, the Seat Altea XL provides the driver with all the usual control systems: ABS, TCS and ESP with Driving Steering Recommendation and with EBA. The Agile Chassis concept which has already been adopted for other models in the Seat range has also been included on the Seat Altea XL. The system delivers rapid steering response and provides greater control, which results in a significant gain in terms of safety.
When discussing safety, one basic element cannot be ignored: the body. The Altea XL's structure has been developed as a safety cell, with an architecture which channels the introduction of force flows in a calculated way. In the event of a collision, the deformation zones absorb the maximum amount of energy of an impact and so provide the best possible passenger safety.
Three rigid protection rings form protective arches in the event of a roll-over. The first ring starts at the windscreen and continues downward through the A-pillars and forward of the door frame. The second links the central B-pillars to the longitudinal roof reinforcements and the platform running board (forming a horizontal H at each side). And the third is formed by the C-pillars, the boot lid frame and the rear cross bar. This robust closed ring has become a main feature in all new Seat designs.
The doors have also been fitted with diagonal reinforcing bars, in addition to the horizontal ones at the level of the body beltline, using high-resistance crosspieces. Besides these protective bars, doors are filled with dense foam which helps absorb side impacts and at the same time improves soundproofing and reduces vibration.
The Seat Altea XL provides passenger and pedestrian protection alike. Accordingly, in the event of a pedestrian being knocked down, the front of the vehicle has been developed and designed to minimise injury to the pedestrian. To achieve this, special care has been taken over the design of non-aggressive and crumple zones which absorb much of the energy at the front.
As agile as a small car
The practical and functional character of the Seat Altea XL does not have to be at odds with driving pleasure. The Agile Chassis concept which has received such acclaim both in the specialist press and amongst customers is also incorporated into the Seat Altea XL. This element is an exclusive development from the Martorell Technical Centre and delivers rapid steering response and provides greater control, providing significantly enhanced safety.
Reducing command time between the steering wheel and the car's response guarantees absolute control. And it is more than just a sensation: the Seat Altea XL turns surprisingly fast, with hardly any body roll, despite what might be expected from a vehicle with a relatively high chassis.
This is achieved by careful tuning of springs and dampers, specific tyres with a lower slip angle and variable assistance electro-mechanical steering.
The front McPherson suspension springs are perfectly angled and include rigid silent-blocks which provide stability in any situation, from sudden load shifts to braking in corners. These silent-blocks also reduce loads on the driveshaft while accelerating, braking and cornering.
In common with other Seat models in this market segment, the Altea XL's rear axle has multilink suspension. Four arms (three transverse and one longitudinal) guide the wheels, with truly exceptional dynamic qualities and an outstanding level of comfort. With near-perfect wheel alignment, both understeer and slip angles are reduced.
The Altea XL's dual servo braking system responds according to braking needs. Normal pressure exerted on the pedal produces a gradual and even braking effect, while more energetic pressure (as in sports driving) yields a keener braking response, delivering at a specific instant a distinct increase in braking power.
The TCS (traction control system) also comes as standard across the range. This system works with the engine in order to prevent the wheels slipping when accelerating on slippery surfaces.
In addition, ESP (electronic stability program) with Driving Steering Recommendation (a dynamic driving aid for the steering, that helps increase vehicle stability) is fitted as standard in the Stylance and Sport-up versions of the Seat Altea XL. Combined with the EBA (Emergency Brake Assistance), this increases pressure in the event of emergency braking, simultaneously maximising the system's capacity and activating the car's hazard warning lights.
1.6 with 102 hp (75 kW). This four cylinder in-line engine delivers exceptional performance, reaching 102 hp at 5,600 rpm and a maximum torque of 148 Nm at 3,800 rpm.
Built entirely of aluminium, the engine block only weighs 16.5 kg. Thanks to the design of its interior, friction has been reduced on the piston rods, giving better fuel consumption and engine performance - also enhanced by its valve mechanism and electronic management.
2.0 FSI with 150 hp (110 kW). This engine, which in the Seat Altea XL is combined with the Tiptronic six-speed automatic gearbox, features direct fuel injection into the cylinder interior. This allows a better compression rate (11.5:1), which increases engine performance.
Fuel wastage has been diminished, since the direct injection prevents any fuel from collecting in the intake manifold on its way to the combustion chamber. As a result, every drop of the injected petrol is converted into energy.
1.9 TDI with 105 hp (77 kW). One of the most widely used engines in the Seat range, thanks to its excellent performance/consumption ratio. This is a four cylinder in-line engine with pump-injector unit fuelling, variable turbo geometry and intercooler.
With the addition of an electric gas recirculation valve with a cooling bypass and the application of the EOBD (European On Board Diagnosis) system, which controls the components involved in exhaust emissions, this is one of the cleanest, most economical diesel engines around.
2.0 TDI with 140 hp (103 kW). Another TDI jewel. This engine, developed from the 1.9, thanks to a slight cylinder head capacity increase, the application a new cylinder head with four valves per cylinder and pump-injector unit fuelling, delivers an output of 140 hp at 4,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 320 Nm between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm.
The combustion chamber's design produces greater turbulence and better gas combustion at low engine speeds, and also obtains optimum performance in the high engine-speed range thanks to improved cylinder filling.
This engine is available in the Seat Altea XL with either a manual gearbox or with the widely acclaimed DSG automatic gearbox. The DSG provides more economical fuel consumption than a standard automatic gearbox and a pleasant ride without losing torque or acceleration power thanks to the lack of a torque converter.