Remember 1995? It seems like at least a couple of lifetimes ago for me, what with John Major as PM, four channels of telly and – for determined early adopters – the internet arriving at the dizzying rate of 16.6 kilobytes per seconds.
Yet it was also the year that saw the introduction of the Ford Galaxy, at the time a state-of-the-art MPV, which spawned its Seat Alhambra badge sister the following year.
I mention this because, in the here and now of late 2008, I’ve just driven a brand-new example of pretty much the same car. Ford replaced the Galaxy two years ago, but Volkswagen and Seat have persevered – and the Sharan and Alhambra are even getting gussied-up with various bits of eco-kit.
In a world where an eight year old car is positively drawing its pension, finding a mainstream car that’s been in continuous production for thirteen years is quite an achievement. Indeed, now the first generation Ford Ka has been quietly knocked on the head, I reckon the ‘Shalambra’ has become the oldest car on sale in Europe – with the obvious exception of the new-for-1984 Land Rover Defender.
Our view of old cars tends to be influenced by the faults they pick up with time – the last Alhambra I rode in was an 80,000-mile minicab – and it’s interesting to drive a box-fresh version and to realise that, in many ways, it’s still competitive with the rest of its admittedly not particularly exciting segment.