The Altea was developed under the directorship of then head of Seat design, Steve Lewis, and made a bold impact when it arrived on the compact MPV scene. The ever-widening radiator grille and ‘S’ logo, peeled-back headlights and aggressive air intakes create a recognisable face. Heading backwards it is more conventional MPV, the bonnet sweeping upwards into a flowing roofline and ending with a steeply raked rear screen.

It’s the Altea’s signature styling line that flows from the headlights over the wheelarch and down the flank in a graceful arc that stands out the most though. Not only does it help to disguise the XL model’s extra bulk in particular, but makes the regular Altea one of the best looking in the MPV sector. It was certainly like nothing else in its class upon release, and while it now has some more modern rivals it still manages to hold its own in terms of visual appeal. 

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Seat did a short-lived four-wheel drive Altea XL Freetrack model. Short-lived for good reason.

That’s not to say the design isn’t without its criticisms. Many would level the similarity between the Altea and the smaller Leon a lazy styling decision rather than the clear lineage between models it was clearly intended to be. And while the dramatically curvy bodywork and shallow windows do wonders for its sporty image, they undoubtedly play their part in the less than flexible interior – both in perception and practice. 

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But all things considered, the Altea still looks as fresh and modern now as when it was released, which is testament to the quality of the design. 

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