he SEAT Alhambra is one of the very best large MPVs money can buy. A rival to cars like the Ford Galaxy and Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, it's mechanically identical to the Volkswagen Sharan, yet it's cheaper than the VW-badged version. So you get all the benefits of the Volkswagen – the practical interior, the flexible seven-seat layout, the excellent engines, the great handling and the top-class quality – but at a lower price.
There are cheaper MPVs on the market (the Vauxhall Zafira costs less, for example), but none of them come close to matching the Alhambra for practicality, comfort, handling and fuel economy. It's a truly brilliant all-rounder, which is why we named it Best MPV in the 2014 Carbuyer Awards.
There's a choice of S, SE, I-TECH and SE Lux trim levels, with all models powered by a 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine. In the most expensive SE Lux model, you can choose between 138bhp or 175bhp versions, while all other cars are fitted with the 138bhp engine only. Even better, all versions are offered with a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or the VW Group's excellent DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission.
All Alhambras have claimed fuel economy of around 50mpg, while CO2 emissions range from 146 to 158g/km, so this is a big car that won’t saddle you with big fuel and tax bills. As you’d expect for a top-class family car, it has a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating and lots of standard safety equipment. And unlike many large MPVs, it isn’t cumbersome or van-like to drive.
Sliding rear doors make it easy to get in and out in tight parking spaces, while all the seats are easy to move around. The interior is very solid and well built, making it perfectly suited to putting up with the rough and tumble of family life.