Wednesday, 23 May 2007

New Car: 2008 Seat Altea Freetrack XL4

You're looking at the first 4x4 Seat will sell in the UK; this is the Altea Freetrack and, unlike the recent crop of faux-4x4s from VW and Renault, Seat’s first attempt at jacking up a road car and adding some body cladding actually has a dose of real off-road ability.

The Altea Freetrack, based on an Altea XL, gets the VW group’s Haldex four-wheel drive system, as used by the Octavia Scout. It also has 40mm of extra ground clearance, which should mean it will be capable of dealing with more than just a gravel path.

Previewed by the Freetrack concept at this year’s Geneva motor show, the production car is essentially the same as the show car without the boot-mounted spare wheel. Some of the concept’s detailing has been toned down – the body-colour mouldings have been replaced by matt black cladding - but it retains protective underbody skid plates at the front and rear.

Engine options will be the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-pot from the Golf GTi with 197bhp, or the 168bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel. The petrol will reach 62mph in 7.5sec, the diesel in 8.7sec.

Inside it’s much the same as the standard Altea XL – the main differences are a new gearknob embossed with the Freetrack logo and a steering wheel with a dash-coloured insert.

Although this is Seat’s first vehicle with off-road pretensions, it is not Seat’s all-new SUV.

Confirmed by Seat boss Eric Schmitt for production at the Paris motor show, that car will be a bespoke model, with front and four-wheel drive powertrains, and will share mechanicals with the new VW Tiguan.

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