Seat Altea Freetrack: all-road... and all kinds of ugly

Click image for a gallery of the SEAT Altea Freetrack

VW subsidiary SEAT has just unveiled its first soft-roader, the Altea Freetrack. First shown in concept trim in March at the Geneva Motor Show, the Freetrack concept was a neat-looking 4WD family capsule, and we figured that it would make the transition to production relatively unscathed.

And mechanically, at least, that's pretty much the case. The power from the 2.0 TFSI drops from the concept's 240 HP to 200 HP on the real car, and the diesel edition's TDI pushes out 170 ponies. A Haldex four-wheel-drive system supplies power exclusively to the front wheels under normal conditions, but can shift up to 50-percent to the rear when necessary.

Inside, it has all the usual minivan amenities, like rear seat entertainment for the kids, dual-zone climate control, CD/MP3 stereo, and the like. By all accounts, it seems like a nice little hauler, and its elevated ride height and 4WD should give it some extra appeal in Europe, where the look has caught on in the form of VW's "Cross" models and Škoda's "Scout" lineup. It's just that unlike those two sister marques, the SEAT design doesn't particularly lend itself to the flat gray quasi-tough look. The front bumper is big and ornate, but sans paint, it just looks looks massive and grotesque. It's not much better on the sides or back, either. Chalk this one up as a "miss" in the looks department. In Freetrack guise, the Altea's face is one only a mother could love.

Additional details in the press release after the jump.

[Source: SEAT]
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  • First all-road car from SEAT
  • Four-wheel drive, increased ride height, tough-looking styling
  • 200 PS petrol and 170 PS diesel engines
  • Rear seat multimedia system fitted as standard

SEAT has released the first pictures and details of the rugged new Altea freetrack, which will make its world debut at the Barcelona Motor Show on 7th June.

The Altea freetrack is the first SEAT designed to be driven off-road, and as such features Haldex-type four-wheel drive, 40 mm of extra ground clearance and 4x4-inspired body addendum over and above the Altea XL, on which the new model is based.

Typically of SEAT and its sporty ethos, the newcomer will only feature powerful 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines – a 200 PS T FSI and 170 PS TDI – and promises to deliver a dynamic on-road driving experience.

Performance is brisk for a car of this type: the 2.0 T FSI has a maximum speed of 133 mph, with 0 to 62 mph taking 7.5 seconds, while the 2.0 TDI boasts figures of 127 mph and 8.7 seconds respectively. Despite their turn of speed, the two models' fuel economy is impressive, with respective provisional figures of 30 mpg and 41.5 mpg.

Visually, the Altea freetrack is very distinctive. The most noticeable features are the impenetrable-looking protective front and rear bumpers, which are linked to each other by a similar moulding that runs below the waistline. New and exclusive 17" alloy wheels and larger diameter tyres complete the exterior appearance.

The Altea freetrack's Haldex-type transmission features a hydro-mechanical connection and electronic control. This flexible arrangement means that in normal use, power is fully transferred to the front wheels – but as traction deteriorates, up to 50% can be automatically distributed to the rear as required.

Not only is the new Altea freetrack sporty and capable when the going gets tough, it is also more than suited to an even harder challenge – the rigours of family life. With a capacious 593 litre boot, picnic tables and a split rear-seat that can slide back and forth by as much as 16 cm, the newcomer is perfect for the whole clan. And with a multimedia system fitted as standard, SEAT has even included the elusive 'mute-the-kids' button!

The Altea freetrack will be sold with just one trim level when it arrives in UK showrooms this September, featuring a very comprehensive list of equipment.

The multimedia system is the highlight, comprising a roof-mounted 7" screen with RCA connection that allows a link to a DVD player, video games, a laptop computer and even an MP3 player. This way the sound is transmitted through the car's stereo system.

Further standard-fit elements on the Altea freetrack include dual zone climate control, rain sensor wipers, parking sensors, cruise control, trip computer, light sensor headlights, and CD MP3 stereo with steering-wheel mounted controls. Rear door window blinds are also fitted as standard, which are stored neatly within the door when not required. Safety equipment includes ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme), six airbags and a tyre pressure warning system.

The new Altea freetrack was wholly designed and developed at the SEAT Technical Centre in Martorell, and will be exclusively made at the Martorell factory, which is one of Europe's most modern and flexible automotive facilities.

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