From £23,830
Top-spec Alhambra is a fine car, but it’s only worth paying for if you need the extra power

Our Verdict

Seat Alhambra
Seven-seater undercuts VW twin, but should other rivals worry?

The Seat Alhambra refined and extremely competent seven seat MPV, but it is short on flair

13 November 2010

What is it?

Having tested two versions of the new Alhambra on the international launch, this is a chance to try both the car in the UK, and the third and final engine in the initial line-up.

The question is, though, do you need the higher-powered diesel? It adds 30bhp and 22lb ft of torque over the 2.0 TDI 140, but it costs £1230 and pushes emissions up to 154g/km and the benefit-in-kind tax up by one percentage point.

See pics of the Seat Alhambra in action

What’s it like?

On the road, the extra performance is obvious and useful, especially when accelerating at motorway speeds. However, the lower-powered engine is fractionally more refined. If you are likely to use the Alhambra’s maximum seating capacity often and go long distances, the trade-off is probably worth considering, but for lighter use the TDI 140 is the engine to go for.

Apart from some wind noise, the ride is pleasing and well controlled, if slightly nuggety on the 17in wheels fitted here. It’s not as engaging to drive as the S-Max/Galaxy but it still makes fine family transport.

Should I buy one?

At £26,500 (or £27,735 for the six-speed DSG model tested here), the 168bhp version of the common-rail 2.0 TDI is the most expensive Alhambra. The equivalent VW Sharan costs £28,955 and the Ford Galaxy £28,545, so opting for the Seat is not the bargain it once was.

However, within the current Seat range, the new Alhambra represents the closest proxy for a VW. Given that, more or less, you are getting the same solid-feeling, well constructed, versatile seven-seat MPV (both built in the same Portuguese factory), so £1200 is a worthwhile saving.

Jamie Corstorphine

Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDI 170 DSG SE

Price: £27,735; Top speed: 127mph; 0-62mph: 9.8sec; Economy: 47.9mpg (combined); CO2: 154g/km; Kerb weight: 1665kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power: 168bhp at 4200rpm; Torque: 258lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd dual-clutch auto

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Comments
4

16 November 2010

Test drove one this weekend (140 TDi DSG), the steering wheel did not have enough reach adjustment and I felt the performance (with 4 people) was just below acceptable for making progress. Maybe the 170 version tested here is sufficiently better in that respect. It was registering 34mpg average on the computer and had two rattles, it also seemed to suffer excessive wind noise for me. Basically it has good showroom appeal and a smart interior but I felt was a let down on the test drive.

16 November 2010

I also test drove a tdi140 SE, though with a manual box. I had the same issues as Phil . It's just not powerful enough when put to the use it is designed for.

The relative positioning of driver's seat and pedals and steering wheel and instrument binnacle is impossible to resolve for a 6 footer.

Stepping out of an S-Max, the steering is a bit numb and the body roll is noticeable, particularly as the seat sides are too broad and hardly bolstered at all.

Also, while the 3rd row is more comfortable than an S-Max/Galaxy, the 2nd row is less comfortable, because the drop from seat base to floor is too small. Adults will not be comfortable in the 2nd row for long distances. One step forwards, two steps back !

It also has, as standard, the annoying electronic handbrake logic encountered in the Passat. It won't release downhill unless you apply the footbrake. Illogical and always catching you out at traffic lights.

All the above criticisms apply equally to the Sharan. At least the Alhambra is cheaper: when you compare the detailed spec of the SE versions, the Alhambra is actually about £2.5k cheaper.

16 November 2010

p.s. Autocar, your review says you drove the SE model, you quote the SE price, but your tagline on the website front page suggests it's the top spec model, which will be SE Lux. The pictures show SE Lux spec (media pack, leather, panoramic roof etc). Unfortunately SE Lux spec hasn't been given a price in the UK yet, and can't be ordered. Can you clarify ?

16 November 2010

[quote morellomax]It also has, as standard, the annoying electronic handbrake logic encountered in the Passat. It won't release downhill unless you apply the footbrake. Illogical and always catching you out at traffic lights[/quote]

The electronic parking brake is designed to release automatically once you have the biting point but only if you have your seatbelt on. Once your seatbelt is on you can also use the Autohold function which effectively holds the car on the brakes when you come to a standstill allowing you to release your foot from the pedals, again once you have the biting point the brake will release. Once you get used to it they are very easy to live with.

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