Seat Alhambra is an MPV with Spanish flair

2015/2016 Seat Alhambra
2015/2016 Seat Alhambra
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At the risk of sounding a bit blasé, there’s not a lot new about this new Alhambra. Seat has kept much of the model’s winning formula untouched, only tweaking the styling, the engines and adding the latest connectivity thanks in part to a new partnership with 
Samsung.

You still get seven seats, two built-in booster seats in the middle row, sliding rear doors and options for petrol, diesel, manual and automatic. If you look really (really, really) closely, you might also notice the new Seat logo.

The Alhambra doesn’t look all that bad for a family bus, adding a few Leon-esque touches without going too crazy. Dads will appreciate the boredom bypass but mums won’t think it looks too sporty to be a good family car. It’s clearly no automotive sex symbol but it’s a solid choice for looks.

As for image, the Alhambra is something of an unsung hero, derided by those who’d never buy one anyway but loved by the people who own one. It might not be a glamorous choice (it isn’t), but its owners would tell you it’s a good one.

Even with all seven seats up and occupied there’s still an impressive boot, good enough for one really large suitcase with soft bags on top, or two medium cases plus extras. Fold the two-piece row three seats down – this isn’t as easy or quick as you’ll see in some rivals – and you’re left with a cavernous boot good enough for anything a family might need to shove into it.

The sliding doors, complete with holders for large bottles, are a huge boon in car parks and the two built-in booster seats mean that kids of around 4-11 years old can escape the need for an aftermarket unit.

To maximise passenger room the three individual seats in row two slide forward and back. Adults approaching six feet tall will find it a squeeze in row three but everywhere else affords lots of head and shoulder room.

Believe it or not (you MPV cynic, you) the Alhambra is far from terrible to drive. Selecting Comfort mode within the adjustable damper settings rewards with an impressive ride quality you’ll love, while the cringe-inducing Sport mode does at least provide a bit more straight-line urge and extra body control in the corners.

You sit high in this car; easily at compact SUV height. There’s a great view of the road ahead as a result, and there’s every chance that even nervous drivers would gain confidence behind the wheel.

The DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox is a boon around town, whispering effortlessly through ratios, but it’s perhaps too keen to kick down gears and bypass the meat of the diesel engines’ torque. The manual gives more useful control for acceleration. There are no such braking worries, as the chunky Seat stops on a sixpence.

Sadly, value is where it starts to look a little worse for the Alhambra. The 
entry-level petrol model just about dips beneath the £25,000 mark, while the mainstream models fall roughly between the £28,000 and £33,000 marks. That’s fabulously expensive for a car of this type, especially considering that the adjustable dampers aren’t standard (£935) and you also have to pay more than £1,000 extra to add powered actuation to the tailgate and sliding doors on the cheaper trim grades.

Families and user-chooser company car drivers with three or more kids are the main buyers here. Seat predicts a 70/30 split towards business sales, so the typical Alhambra driver is likely to be a family man or woman with a few kids at home and a desire for both space and comfort.