The Alhambra is available with one petrol engine and three diesels. The turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol is smooth and flexible, with just enough strength to lug the family around. However, the 2.0-litre diesels will be more popular because of their superior fuel economy and stronger low-down pull. The 113bhp version isn’t quick but will handle most loads. Both the 138- and 168bhp units have plenty of go. We’d stick with the 138bhp for the best blend of power and economy.
The Alhambra is a big car and you’re well aware of that when you’re negotiating tight car parks or narrow city streets. On the open road, though, the Alhambra is far from cumbersome, with well-weighted steering and fine handling. The ride is supple over most roads, too.
Whichever engine you choose, the Alhambra is smooth and quiet - just as quiet as its VW Sharan counterpart, in fact, which makes it one of the most refined MPVs around. The boxy shape kicks up some wind noise, but there’s little road noise and the Alhambra is a very hushed cruiser.
Prices aren’t cheap, but they undercut those of the almost-identical Volkswagen Sharan. That makes the Alhambra better value for money, although its predicted resale values are slightly lower than those of the VW. CO2 emissions and fuel consumption figures are impressively low, too, so ownership costs are pretty competitive.
Badges apart, the Alhambra’s cabin is all-but identical to the VW Sharan’s, so there are lots of classy VW controls and some plush trim around the front of the cabin. The materials further back are more workaday, but they feel built to withstand family life, while build quality is solid throughout.
Every Alhambra comes with stability control, a tyre pressure-monitoring system and seven airbags, including a driver’s knee ‘bag and curtain airbags that run the full length of the cabin. Altogether, they help towards a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating for the car. Deadlocks, marked parts and an alarm are also standard across the range.
The Alhambra's interior won’t win any contests for design flair, but it’s hard to fault for comfort and ease of use. The front seats are supportive, while the dashboard controls are simple to use, well placed and within easy reach. The Alhambra’s boxy shape and comparatively slim pillars mean that all-round visibility is excellent.
The Alhambra has genuine space for seven adults, and you’ll find it surprisingly easy to get kids in and out in tight parking spaces thanks to its sliding rear doors. The five rear seats can all be folded flat when you need to transport really big loads, but the boot is still huge in five-seat mode, and there’s even enough space for a decent amount of luggage when all the seats are upright. Our only real criticism is that the third-row seats are a bit of a fuss to fold flat.
The Alhambra is available in S, SE and SE Lux versions. Even the cheapest trim (S) includes alloy wheels, three-zone climate control, Bluetooth and front and rear parking sensors, while the top-spec SE Lux cars have electrically powered side doors
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Our favourite Alhambra, the Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDI 140 Ecomotive S combines a reasonably priced and frugal diesel engine with all the kit most buyers will need.