This year, SEAT released their latest version of the Alhambra to the public. If you’re a parent, this is a car with massive appeal. Throw the kids into any of the five seats in row two or three and relax – they’ll have plenty of space.
When I picked up my SEAT Alhambra test car I was immediately impressed by the high spec model I was given. Comfort is top of the list and after driving the new Volkswagen Sharan and the Ford Galaxy I have to say that the interior feel of the Alhambra is probably topping the list. In fairness to the Sharan though, I wasn’t driving the highest spec version, so I can’t really pass judgement there.
The Alhambra offers a huge amount of space and even the back row seats fit my rotund frame. There are nice cup holders in row three and with the row two seats, which are on rails, pushed forward the space is perfect for even young teenagers.
Row two impresses with the very easy-to-use child seats. I have two kids and each week when I pick up a test car it feels like a chore transferring booster seats from one car to another. With the Alhambra you can just flick a switch and out pops two in-built boosters. Both come with special head rests that you can put on and take off as you please. Yes, this car is appealing.
Where it falls down a bit is in the ride department. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I felt that the Sharan was a more comfortable ride – even though both of these cars are built on the same platform. The Ford Galaxy however gave me a smoother ride over the same types of streets.
I’ve never gotten out of an MPV and described it as being fun to drive, and I’m not about to change now. However, there is something hugely satisfying about driving the SEAT Alhambra, the Sharan and the Galaxy. It’s great to be able to pack the kids in the car and not have to worry about space for the suitcase, the Quinny or the bike. The raised height adds to the experience too.
If you’re stuck with school runs, all three of these MPVs are excellent, but the Alhambra pips the other two at the post on account of those in-built boosters. Flat folding seats make it a versatile machine too. With all of the rear seats flat there is certainly enough room to turn this people carrier into a van. However, boot space is very tight with row three seats in place.
The Alhambra is powered by a 2.0 TDI 150hp engine and by no means does it feel lacking in that department. It’s nicely matched with their DSG gearbox, but at low speeds the car likes to hold onto the gears just a little too long. With a higher and steadier speed though, everything falls nicely into place.
Inside my higher-end SE model, the leather layout added to the comfort of the vehicle. Electric sliding doors are also available as well as a host of other accoutrements. The infotainment system is very easy to use, but unfortunately it lacks a bit of imagination because it is pretty much the exact same as the Sharan.
So, what do you pay for an Alhambra? Well, if you want to come in at entry level, you’re talking about €38,990. The price isn’t bad when you consider that the price of an entry level Sharan is €43,675. However, the entry level Sharan has the same 2.0 TDI 150hp engine as my test model, and the entry level price for the Alhambra is for the 2.0 TDI with 115hp. The entry level SE (manual gearbox) with 150hp comes in at €43,595, and if you want the DSG gearbox that prices increases to €46,395. The Sharan in Highline trim and a DSG box comes in at €50,055.
Standard spec in our test vehicle included 18” “Akira” alloys, one integrated child seat and comfort front sports seats (you see, they also care about parent’s comfort!). Other standard features include a multi-functional steering wheel, a 6.5” colour touch screen, 3 zone air conditioning, and rear privacy glass (in case your kids are being chased by the paparazzi).
Unfortunately the spec I was driving did not have a spare tyre. I got caught short in Dublin City and my heart was ever-so-slightly broken - especially when I noticed that somebody had taken my repair kit out of the car before they gave it to me! So, the moral here is to make sure you pack the repair kit. Seriously though, what happened to the good old days when all cars had a spare tyre? I'd give up the space for one.
Road tax for the Alhambra is €280, and on paper it has a fuel economy of 5.2l/100km. Once again, I didn’t achieve that but I was happy enough with 6.5l/100km.
The new SEAT Alhambra, it can’t be denied, is an extremely versatile vehicle. If you’ve got a growing family, or if you’re lucky enough to have popular kids with loads of friends who need to be ferried about, then the Alhambra is definitely worth a look – school runs will never be as easy!
For: Buckets of space & great versatility.
Against: No spare tyre in our test model.