First Drive

2015 Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDI 150 review

The Seat Alhambra was already one of the best seven-seaters you can buy, and didn't really need much improving. Nevertheless, Seat has given it a facelift for 2015.

Words ByJohn Howell

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It’s almost blink-and-you’ll-miss-it time on the seven-seat MPV front. We only drove the new Ford Galaxy a matter of weeks ago – and it’s very good by the way – but already we’re at the launch of the new (or mildly facelifted to be precise) Seat Alhambra. Both these ever-practical family wagons will be doing battle with the Volkswagen Sharan - itself a close relation of the Alhambra.

Underneath the lightly refreshed styling (essentially a new front grille and LED taillights) Seat’s upped the power of its 2.0-litre diesel engines, which now give out 148bhp or 182bhp. Both versions meet Euro 6 emissions regulations and, despite the extra power, they’ve gained better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions than before - great for company car and private buyers alike. Seat’s also introduced a 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine to the range as well.

Inside, the infotainment system is faster and can mirror your smartphone’s screen. There’s also additional safety kit including blind-spot warning and a secondary-collision avoidance system, plus, for those that enjoy a gentle pummelling, massage seats are an option, too.

What’s the 2015 Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDI 150 like inside?

Inside it’s pretty much as before: top-notch, with a usefully adjustable steering wheel and supportive driver’s seat that has enough movement to adapt to most sizes. You sit up high, which is great because the Alhambra's large glass area and slim pillars mean visibility is excellent.

The trims have been improved, with pleasing soft-feel plastics on the upper surfaces, and switches that feel like they’ll still be switching ten years from now. It’s also logically laid out and simple to use.

Having just tested the new Galaxy we know it’s incredibly spacious and practical but this Alhambra is also good. The wide, sliding rear doors are great for access even in tight spaces and reveal a middle row of seats that will easily take three six-footers.

All three seats slide and recline for added convenience and comfort and on all models you get rear climate controls as standard. Tilting the middle row's outer seats forward allows you easy access to the third-row, which will take two more adults.

The Alhambra’s boot is massive – van-like if you fold all but the two front seats flush to the floor – although the Galaxy’s is slightly bigger still. Even so, there’s space for several large shopping bags with all seven seats up.

What’s the 2015 Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDI 150 like to drive?

This 148bhp diesel has the same combined fuel economy as the Galaxy 150 TDCi, but it’s one company car tax band higher. With a good slug of mid-range shove it’ll serve you well in town or on the motorway, but you get more diesel rumble than in the Ford.

The standard six-speed manual gearbox has no issues of note; the six-speed dual-clutch auto, on the other hand, is too keen to change down and send the engine racing, although the rest of the time it changes smoothly enough.

You feel the Alhambra’s size when trying to park, but the light steering helps out. On the open road the steering weights up nicely and the Alhambra controls its body well enough to feel surefooted and safe. You’ll find it rides nicely too, at least on the adaptive suspension fitted to our car.

Should I buy one?

It’s a tough one, this. The Ford Galaxy is bigger, more fun to drive and its engine is more refined. However, those differences are small, and the equivalent Galaxy is a considerable Β£1500 more than this Alhambra 2.0 TDI 150.

So, if you are keeping a tight rein on the family budget, we think the Seat Alhambra is the better buy - just.

What Car says...

The rivals:

Ford Galaxy

Volkswagen Sharan

Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDI 150 Ecomotive S

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from Β£26,775

Power 148bhp

Torque 184lb ft

0-62mph 10.2 seconds

Top speed 126mph

Fuel economy 56.5mpg

CO2 130g/km