Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

The build quality in the Altea is impressive so it's a shame that some of the plastics are a touch on the hard side - there are few soft-touch areas. The driver has a good view of the road ahead, although the chunky windscreen pillars can restrict visibility when turning out of junctions or at roundabouts. But the driving position is good and the main controls are sensibly placed and easy to get familiar with.

When the Altea was revised in 2009 the interior was improved considerably with redesigned switches, instrument dials and a new steering wheel. The plastics were also improved which all add up to give it a far more sophisticated feel and modern look.

The seats in the Altea are a little firm, but they do offer good support for longer journeys plus the rear seats can slide to increase legroom when needed. There's plenty of space for all passengers and a huge amount of headroom, while noise levels are generally low. The exception is the older TDI engines - particularly the 1.9-litre - which can be loud, especially under hard acceleration.

The 1.6 TDI used in the Ecomotive model is much quieter and smoother. At higher speeds, wind noise from around the windscreen pillars can sometimes be irritating, especially on the motorway. On the plus side, all models come with air conditioning as standard and even the entry-level models get front electric windows.