The latest SEAT Alhambra is a well equiped and practical MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) that competes with cars like the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, Vauxhall Zafira and Renault Grand Scenic. The Alhambra is a highly practical car that has good equipment levels - somthing that is particularly handy when you’re driving six passengers around.
However, the Alhambra shares a lot of its mechanical parts, technology and style with the Volkswagen Sharan – as SEAT is part of the VW Group. So if badge appeal plays a part in your purchasing decision, you may prefer spending slightly more on the Sharan.
Nevertheless, the SEAT is fairly respected in its class, with the facelifted 2015 model also improving on economy. This is thanks to SEAT's ‘Ecomotive’ technology, comprising start-stop and energy-recovery systems to boost efficieny.
There are four trim levels to choose from, starting with the entry-level S and running to the top-of-the-range FR Line. In addition, SEAT also offers a mid-range Connect model, which has been developed with those who need to use their smartphones safely on the go in mind. As well as the ‘Connect’ badges emblazoned in and around the car, buyers of this model also receive a Samsung Galaxy A3 smartphone.
The entry-level S is also well-equipped, though, with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth audio streaming and voice recognition. Three-zone climate control comes as standard, as do 17-inch alloys, plus front and rear parking sensors. The mid-range SE plays to the ‘family car’ purpose of the MPV, with folding tables and a power socket for second-row passengers.
Available from £32,115 on-the-road, the SE Lux is the trim level we recommend. Although pricey compared to its rivals –a top-of-the-range Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is available for less – the SE Lux comes with a power-operated tailgate, electric panoramic sunroof, sat nav, a rear-view camera, heated front seats and sports suspension. The sliding rear doors, available on all Alhambra models, are also power-operated on this trim.
In regards to engines, the S and SE models are available with 1.4-litre petrol or 2.0-litre diesel power – both with an output of 148bhp, as well as manual or DSG automatic transmission. The higher-spec SE Lux and FR Line trims are diesel-only, but with the added option of a 2.0-litre 181bhp engine as well as the 148bhp.
While its economy has been improved, the Alhambra still emits more CO2 than some of its rivals. The top-of-the-range Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Exclusive+, for example, emits just 105g/km CO2 from its 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine (with manual transmission). The SEAT equivalent, however, produces 132g/km, even with the TDI Ecomotive engine. The Citroen is also more economical, returning up to 67.3mpg in contrast to the Alhambra's 55.4mpg.
Other alternatives include the Ford Galaxy and Vauxhall Zafira Tourer – both of which have cheaper high-spec models. The Alhambra's sliding rear doors are certainly an attractive – and more importantly, practical – feature, but how much extra you’re willing to pay for them compared to the SEAT's rivals will be the sticking point.
Production standards are high at the Volkswagen Group – something reflected in the full five stars awarded to the Alhambra in Euro NCAP crash tests.