What is it?
Us Brits love a sporty looking car, and Seat is banking on the chance that we'll love a sporty-looking large MPV as well. It's introduced FR-Line as a trim package on the cavernous Alhambra.
There's only a limited amount of actual sporting purpose about this trim level, though. The Spanish brand only offers it with the 2.0-litre TDI engine, with either 148bhp or 181bhp, no petrol engine is available. However, if you opt for the more potent lump with the dual-clutch ‘box (like our test car) and it’ll sprint to 62mph from rest in a not-too-shabby 8.9sec.
But it isn’t this that makes it an FR-Line; lesser Alhambras can be had with the gutsier engine. No, it’s a sporting garnish consisting of 18in wheels, FR-Line badging inside and out, dubious side stripes and a flat-bottomed wheel that single this model out.
What's it like?
Like SE Lux models, the FR-Line gains sports suspension. Combined with the 18in wheels, you’re left with an MPV that can cover ground pretty quickly. Grip levels are high and body roll is well contained for such a lofty thing. The penalty for such a dynamic compromise, however, is a ride that’s firmer than rivals; not that it’s ever outright uncomfortable, even on a long journey.
The steering’s weight is well-judged, offering enough resistance to stop it wandering around the road at the slightest movement, but without seeming overly heavy. Sure, there’s virtually no feedback, but it is precise, making it easy to place the Alhambra on the road. As for balance, you’ll no doubt have guessed by now that it’s a natural understeerer.
The engine is certainly a good match for the car, though. Even with six adults onboard, there is more than enough acceleration to get up to speed at a reasonable pace. There’s a good spread of torque on offer, while the dual-clutch 'box delivers smooth and swift shifts.
Not all is good with the gearbox, though. We found it downshifts unexpectedly when accelerating relatively gently, and sometimes it's hesitant to change gear manually. Still, these issues were infrequent enough not to spoil the experience.