SEAT Alhambra


    I’m not normally one to get too excited upon the news of the launch of a new MPV. I don’t have children, I don’t manage a sports team or claim membership to a club. I don’t run a small business that requires a van. I’ve never felt the urge to take up a “lifestyle” type hobby either – I don’t even have a drum-kit – and seldom do I need a vehicle that can carry seven adults. Anyway, aren’t MPVs something you buy because need one? No one ever really wanted one did they?

   There are of course exceptions to every rule. Ford’s Galaxy, I’m told, is actually a pretty good steer (I’ve still yet to sample one), it’s not bad looking either. But, if six other people were vying for a seat in the same car as me, personally, and having just spent a week the company of one, I’d be hoping that the car in question was SEAT’s very capacious new Alhambra.

    You did read that correctly, there is a new SEAT Alhambra, or at least a new version of it, but you’ll have to be even more eagle-eyed to spot the differences. Even by parent company Volkswagen’s standards the styling changes made to SEAT’s seven-seater are somewhat reserved. There’s a new front grille, the head and tail lights are different, they’ve changed the alloy wheel design, and well, that’s about it externally.  There’s a new 148bhp 1.4-litre turbo petrol, while both of the 2.0-litre TDI engines have seen power upped by 10bhp; they now produce 148bhp and 182bhp respectively. Fuel consumption, SEAT claim, has been cut by an average of 12 per cent across the range.

   Despite its family-bus looks the Alhambra actually feels pretty good on the road – enjoyable you even might say. It promotes a relaxed driving style and once one has been adopted, rewards by being quiet, smooth, and very, very comfortable. It rides extremely well indeed.  And, even though it’s got the capability to swallow a complete water-polo team in one sitting, SEAT’s engineering boffins have, thankfully, managed not to make it handle like a mini-bus. You can even chose to have your Alhambra fitted with adaptive dampers, but that perhaps, is a £935 step too far.

    The steering is nicely weighted- if a little numb, there’s not too much body roll, and overall the Alhambra feels much more car like than you might expect. You get a slightly higher driving position framed by some rather thick A-pillars - they do cause a few visibility problems at junctions, albeit minor ones - but the trade-off is that the views through the Alhambra’s vast cinema-scape windscreen are superb; you can see well over the car in front and the car in front of that one. It is a bit big come parking time however, but thankfully there’s a reversing camera and even the option of park assist if you’re still not sure where those squared-off rear corners are.

   It’s also built like a Bavarian bank vault. Jump inside and you’ll notice many a VW parts-bin favourite. The dials, the column stalks and all the minor switch gear are straight from the previous generation Golf. The steering wheel is Audi (albeit with a SEAT centre of course) and the gear knob, in the automatic at least, is more than just a little bit Porsche. It’s all laid out in that no-nonsense, super-ergonomic VW way too, the fit and finish are to the usual Germanic standards and everything has been built to last.

   All Alhambra also get with SEAT’s latest touchscreen system as standard, it’s intuitive to use and incorporates newly-developed phone connectivity, the facility to read messages or tweets, access to music streaming, and perhaps most importantly of all, hands free calls.

  The Alhambra’s real trump card however is its practicality, Forget the days when, if you needed to carry flat-pack, you had to remove heavy seats and leave them at home. All of the Alhambra’s chairs can be folded flat so the load-space really is cavernous. Should you return to the car park laden with bags, siblings, or perhaps a combination of both, sliding doors mean ingress for everyone is easy. Plus, once everyone’s aboard each of the seats can be slid forward or backwards individually to give everybody their fair share of the legroom - even the rearmost row will accommodate the larger of the brood – and the built-in booster seats in the middle row are, quite simply, the work of genius. The press car even had storage space in the roof.

  One look at might be all it takes to tell you that the Alhambra is definitely not the sexiest thing you can spend your money on, nevertheless don’t let that put you off. It’s built well, and surprisingly, it’s good to drive. Plus, its combination of practicality and SEAT’s reputation for reliability and value mean it’s more than capable of putting a smile on your, and perhaps more importantly for a car like this, your family’s face.

     Trust me on this one: The Alhambra is good - very good in fact. It’s just a shame I don’t need one.



Seat Alhambra SE 2.0 TDI Ecomotive 150 PS


Engine: 1,968cc, 4Cyl, 16V Turbo-diesel.

Transmission: 6 speed Manual. Front Wheel Drive.

Power: 148 BHP @ 3500rpm

Torque: 184 lbft @1750 – 2500 rpm

0-62mph: 10.2 sec

Max Speed: 126 mph

MPG: 55.4 Combined.

CO2: 132g/km

VED Band: E

Price: from £28,675. (Car Driven: £30,435)

Many thanks to Adrienne at SEAT’s UK press office for the loan of the ALHAMBRA




Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

Read More from Liam Bird