MPV prepares SEAT for an electric future – is it any good?
The e-Altea demonstrates that SEAT has the technology to produce an electric vehicle, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. As far as the driving experience goes, the ride is overly firm to counteract the effects of the weight increase and the range is poor – even for an electric car. There are some interesting ideas here, though – in particular the paddles on the steering wheel, which can increase regenerative braking.
Recently we drove the plug-in hybrid Leon TwinDrive, but SEAT bosses are looking at making an all-electric vehicle, too. And this model – the e-Altea – gives us an idea of what to expect.
Under the bonnet is an 85kW electric motor – the equivalent of 114bhp. This draws power from lithium-ion batteries under the rear seats, so there’s no compromise on interior space. However, those batteries only provide about 84 miles of range.
SEAT has fitted the e-Altea with Normal, Eco and Range modes to help maximise mileage. Eco limits acceleration, top speed and climate control, while Range ups the regenerative braking.
The e-Altea’s 270Nm of torque is delivered from the off, so it feels swift from a standstill. As SEAT is keen to retain a sense of driver involvement, flicking the steering wheel-mounted paddles increases the brake regeneration, to give the feel of engine braking.
But the batteries add 300kg to the kerbweight, which means it feels far heavier than a standard Altea. It’s slightly more cumbersome in bends, and the brakes need to be worked harder.
As with most electric cars, the major drawback is the range. SEAT insists, though, that by the time its first electric vehicle goes on sale in 2016, this will no longer be an issue.
* Price: £25,000 (est)
* Engine: 85kW AC electric motor
* Power/torque: 114bhp/270Nm
* Transmission: Single speed, front-wheel drive
* 0-60mph: 16 seconds (est)
* Top speed: 84mph
* Range: 84 miles
* Equipment: Roof-mounted solar panels, power source monitor and controller with mobile phone app, electric windows, air-con, sat-nav
* On sale: 2016