The SEAT Alhambra is something of an old-school MPV, as it’s an excellent people-carrier and one of the few that can really take seven people. However, it’s not as stylish as some of the more modern alternatives
The SEAT Alhambra is a seven-seater people carrier that’s a slightly cheaper alternative to the Volkswagen Sharan. Other alternatives you could consider include the Ford Galaxy, Citroen C4 SpaceTourer and the Renault Grand Scenic.
Part of the reason the Alhambra is an alternative to the Sharan is that the two are effectively the same vehicle – and that’s as obvious on the inside as it is from the outside. Many of the parts in the SEAT are directly carried over from its sister car and the overall quality is on par with the more expensive VW.
The new infotainment system, which was introduced as part of a facelift for the range in 2015, is nice and easy to use, but if there is a criticism, it’s that some of the plastics look cheap and the interior is not as distinctive as the one in the Citroen C4 SpaceTourer.
Where the SEAT Alhambra really stands out, though, is that it has enough space inside for seven people – and even fully grown adults will be comfortable enough in the third-row seats. It’s easy to get to them as well, thanks to a clever middle row of three individual seats that tumble forward with a pull of a single lever. Then, once they’re upright, you can slide each one of the seats backwards and forwards to share the space out however you fancy.
As if that wasn’t enough, the car comes with sliding rear doors, which are a huge help when getting people in and out in tight parking spaces. On the top two trim levels, these are electrically operated, which means that younger kids can close them easily – and teenagers won’t be able to slam them!
Naturally, the amount of luggage space depends on how many seats you’re using. But, even with all seven seats upright, you have 267 litres at your disposal, which is almost as much as you get in an Ibiza. All the rear seats drop with a simple pull of a lever and fall flat to the floor, leaving a huge 2,297-litre space – just as much as in a Sharan and only a little less than the Ford Galaxy.
I may not know much about family life, but I do know good value when I see it, and if you’re looking for a good-value people-carrier, you’ll struggle to find a better one than the Alhambra
Given that it makes such a fine family car, the good news is that the SEAT Alhambra is stable, safe and inspires confidence when you’re driving it. Just as importantly, you won’t feel too many bumps and there’s not too much body roll when you’re going around corners, so the kids shouldn’t feel car sick.
There’s a good range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, too, all of which have at least 150hp. If you spend most of your time in town, the 1.4-litre petrol (the cheapest model in the range) will be ideal. But, if you’ll be heading out on to the motorway more often, especially with a heavy load, then go for the 2.0-litre diesel, which is available with a manual or automatic gearbox.
The five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP is reassuring in a family car, while the Alhambra cements its position as a good-value choice by having plenty of equipment on any trim level.
The safety features include seven airbags, stability control, ABS, a tyre-pressure monitor, and a hill-hold feature as standard, as well as a tiredness recognition system. There are also Isofix child-seat mounting points on the second-row seats.
Every model comes with alloy wheels, metallic paint, climate control and a colour touchscreen, and if you avoid the basic S trim, you’ll also have chrome trim around the windows, tinted rear windows and chrome roof rails, as well as some extra storage in the cabin. Go for one of the top two trim levels and you’ll also get DAB radio and a sat-nav system.
With the SEAT Alhambra, essentially what you’re getting is the spacious and practical Volkswagen Sharan for a much more reasonable price. True, it might be slightly more expensive than some alternatives like the Galaxy, but you get a decent handling, comfortable, and fuel-efficient MPV.