Thursday, November 20, 2008

The New Seat Altea Freetrack

The Seat Altea Freetrack was created by taking the family-oriented Seat Altea XL, and blending it with the concept of a crossover vehicle - more specifically, one designed for off-roading pleasure without sacrificing the tremendous practicality compact cars offer in more urban landscapes. As such, the Seat Altea Freetrack offers the maximum possible amount of space for both travelling with the family and enjoying the great outdoors.

Off-road looks

Based on the Altea XL, the first ever crossover vehicle to come from SEAT takes on a distinctly off-road air, including the trademark plastic guards found on all models of this genre. Far from just adding aesthetic appeal, these guards protect the body against damage when drivers venture off the beaten track.

Further distinguishing features of the Seat Altea Freetrack are new 17-inch wheels fitted with special, larger diameter tyres, plus an extra 40 millimetres of ground clearance compared with the Altea XL, further enhancing the new model's crossover capabilities.

The Seat Altea Freetrack interior is characterised by an appealing two-tone colour scheme. This combines the black that runs throughout the Altea range with a brown that is reminiscent of the type of forest track the new model is destined to tackle.

Four-wheel drive or two-wheel drive

The Seat Altea Freetrack is no pretend crossover - it comes complete with four-wheel-drive. The power in the 200 hp 2.0 TSI and the 170 hp 2.0 TDI is transmitted to all four wheels via a Haldex-type arrangement with a hydro-mechanical connection and electronic control to ensure that the tractive force is distributed in a progressive and precise manner. The engine 140 hp 2.0 TDI is commercialized with front-wheel drive.

Concerning the Haldex, under normal conditions drive power is directed entirely to the front wheels but, when circumstances dictate, as much as 50% can be sent to the rear axle.

The Haldex coupling is basically a multi-plate clutch system which governs the difference in rotational speed between an input and an output shaft. The shaft which leads from the gearbox serves as the input shaft, while the output shaft is connected to the rear axle via a propshaft.

The electronic control is programmed so that under normal driving conditions the Seat Altea Freetrack behaves like a conventional front-wheel-drive vehicle, which has a positive effect on fuel consumption. However, the values of multiple dynamic parameters (difference in rotational speed between the shafts, signals from the ABS/ESP sensors, torque and rev speed variables, etc.) set in progress the electronic control for the distribution of drive. So they are permanently monitored to allow the distribution of drive power to be adapted to any driving conditions, with up to 50% of total power able to be directed to the rear wheels.

In order to accommodate this four-wheel-drive system without impinging on the spaciousness of the vehicle interior, it was necessary to adapt both the rear axle and the rear axle suspension. It was also necessary to modify the fuel tank, although the capacity of 55 litres is unchanged from that of the Altea XL.

Thanks to this system of power transmission and the higher ground clearance compared with a standard Altea XL, the freetrack achieves an angle of approach of 17.6 degrees and an angle of departure of nearly 23 degrees.

New suspension

The suspension of the Seat Altea Freetrack furthermore features shock absorbers with a larger reservoir of oil than those fitted in the XL. This allows the suspension to handle more severe operating conditions without any alarming increase in temperature.

The Seat Altea Freetrack is equipped as standard with TCS traction control which intervenes in the engine management to prevent the wheels from spinning when accelerating on slippery surfaces. The latest generation of ESP (Electronic Stability Program) also makes up part of the standard specification. This teams up with the Driving Steering Recommendation (DSR) system, which detects the quality of braking at each axle and takes corrective action where required, by transmitting a small impulse to the steering wheel to keep the vehicle on the correct course. EBA (Emergency Brake Assistance) can likewise come to the driver's aid by boosting the brake pressure to system capacity during emergency braking.

Last but not least, the ESP system fitted to the Seat Altea Freetrack also incorporates the TSP Trailer Stability Program, which is specifically designed to enhance vehicle safety when towing a trailer. TSP helps to stabilise the trailer should it ever jeopardise the vehicle's safe handling as a result of, for example, adverse weather conditions, a poor road surface or emergency braking.

Engines of high-level

Three engines - two diesel and the other one petrol - which are renowned for delivering high performance. After all, the two four-wheel drive engines are the same power units encountered in, for example, the Seal Leon FR: the 170 hp 2.0 TDI and the 2.0 TSI developing 200 hp. They are followed by the 140 hp 2.0 TDI. With these engines to propel it along, the freetrack can claim to be the sportiest family crossover in its segment.

With the 170 hp 2.0 TDI unit under the bonnet, top speed is 204 km/h and the sprint from 0 to 100 km/h is over in 8.7 seconds. Powered by the 2.0 TSI, meanwhile, the Seat Altea Freetrack records a top speed of 214 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 7.5 seconds. Concerning the 140 hp 2.0 TDI the sprint from 0 to 100 km/h is in 10.2 seconds, the top speed is 196 km/h and the average fuel consumption is 6.1 l/100 km.

Maximised space

Despite all of its performance credentials, the Seat Altea Freetrack maintains the outstanding levels of spaciousness and cargo volume associated with the Altea XL. With its 593 litres of boot capacity, the freetrack offers enough room for everything the whole family needs to enjoy their leisure time to the full. Furthermore, load capacity can be increased again to 1,562 litres by folding the rear bench seat flat.

One of the fortes of the Seat Altea Freetrack interior is its tremendous practicality and functionality. For example, SEAT is premiering handy overhead storage spaces in its new model which run lengthways and also house the 7-inch TFT screen (as standard equipment with 4WD, optional with 2WD).

Window blinds in the rear, with a facility that allows them to be stored within the doors when not in use, are also included as standard. Another feature included as standard, and bound to be appreciated by families with pets, is the partition net. This net separates the passenger compartment from the luggage compartment and can easily be removed whenever it is not required.

Multimedia system as standard with the four-wheel drive

Apart from its roomy interior, one of the strongest selling points of the Seat Altea Freetrack in its capacity as a family car is the inclusion of a new multimedia system like in the Seat Altea and Altea XL as standard equipment with 4WD (optional with 2WD). This system comprises a 7 inch TFT screen housed in the vehicle's roof, along with an RCA connector for linking up a DVD player, games console, laptop or even an MP3 player, as the sound from the connected source is played through the vehicle's own audio system.

Other items which can be found in the Seat Altea Freetrack as standard include twin-zone climate control, automatic headlight activation and rain sensor, parking sensor, cruise control, trip computer, as well as a radio/CD system with MP3 and steering-wheel audio controls. On the safety front, meanwhile, the ESP electronic stability program, six airbags, electromechanical power steering (EPS) and a tyre pressure warning lamp are just some of the features that come as standard.

Yet another less usual feature included as standard in the Seat Altea Freetrack are the electrical pre-fittings for a trailer hitch. These pre-fittings include a connection for the TSP system that combines with the ESP to help stabilise the trailer.

Customers can also choose optional extras for the Seat Altea Freetrack like dynamic navigation system with 6.5" colour screen, Bluetooth telephone preparation, AFS bi-xenon directional headlights or side airbags in the rear for example.

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