• Seven-seater undercuts VW twin, but should other rivals worry?
  • The front looks unusually agressive and sporty for a full-sized people carrier
  • The sliding doors are not heavy, so you can get by without power assistance
  • The rear-end styling is quite Audi-esque
  • Optional large glass sunroof adds to the feeling of space in the cabin
  • Paddle shifters are standard on all DSG models, which is useful even in a car as non-sporting as this
  • Driving environment is roomy and effective but the seats lack long-haul comfort
  • Three mid-row seats fold and adjust individually. Shoulder room is a little tight
  • he two outer seats in the middle row tilt up and forward – flattening against the front seats rather than folding
  • Rear two seats offer decent legroom. Load bay is a good size and easy to access
  • Manual and DSG gearboxes are available
  • The Alhambra is refined at speed thanks in part to its aerodynamic shape
  • The 2.0-litre diesel impresses, as does the 1.4-litre petrol, although the latter is a small seller
  • The Alhambra rides comfortably, cruises quietly and has a broad-shouldered engine
  • Even driven harder than any MPV is likely to be pushed, the Alhambra remains unflustered
  • The Seat is the MPV to buy if you want refinement and the best interior packaging

There’s little to criticise the Seat Alhambra for, other than its blandness. It certainly isn’t in any way unpleasant to drive or spend time in. More comfortable front seats should be a priority for the facelift, but the ride comfort and superb refinement make it very Golf-like to drive – the simplicity of its controls will appeal to many, even if the interior style comes across as a little dull. You can’t criticise the quality, though.

More than that, in places it does it better than any of its rivals. Its flexible seating system is as good as, if not better than, any other on the market. The seats are easy to fold, there’s above average space in all of them and access to the back is better than that in a Ford S-Max or Galaxy thanks to the wide-opening sliding doors.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
For the facelift Seat should give the driver’s seat more lateral support and make it feel more fun to drive

Every Alhambra model represents very competitive value – the S model is well equipped for an entry-level car with alloys, Bluetooth and parking sensors standard. Top-spec SE Lux models come luxuriously appointed. 

It is a thoroughly modern, near faultlessly capable MPV then. But it has been proved that a car can carry many people in comfort and yet also offer an involving drive. Most, if not all, buyers won’t care that this Seat doesn’t manage that.

But we do, and so the Alhambra falls just short of the Ford S-Max’s all-round appeal.

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