Seat Alhambra driven

* Prices from around £21,500 * All versions well equipped * On sale in November...

Seat Alhambra driven

What is it?

Seat's all-new large seven-seat MPV

What's new?

Everything, from the ground up. If it looks familiar that's because it has been developed alongside VW's all-new Sharan. Most of the body panels are shared, but the Alhambra has slightly different front and rear styling. The two cars share engines, mechanical parts and, for the most part, cabins.

What's it like inside?

Big. The Alhambra is wider than a Ford Galaxy and has a huge amount of interior space. It's versatile, too. Each of the three middle-row seats slide and recline, and behind them are two more seats that have enough head- and legroom for adults to sit comfortably. Even with all the seats in place there's a boot big enough for a couple of suitcases. Fold the rear pair away (a quick and easy process) and you're left with a space that's huge enough to fit in a pushchair lengthways.

Access is easy thanks to sliding side doors and middle-row seats that tumble away to provide a clear route into the rear seats. Top-spec cars will have electrically-powered side doors and an electric tailgate will also an option. The interior is easy on the eye, too, and VW-style build quality and materials means that it's pretty classy, too.

What's it like to drive?

On the evidence of our fairly brief time with the car, very good. You're aware of the Alhambra's sheer size around town, but it never feels cumbersome, with fine handling and responsive steering. The ride is generally comfortable (in both the front and rear seats) and it's quiet at speed.

The engine range is excellent. The petrol option is a turbocharged 1.4 with 148bhp and it's smooth and strong. The diesel options are 2.0-litre units with either 138- or 168bhp. We drove the lower-powered version, which is flexible enough to question the need for the extra cost of the higher-powered model. All three come with either a six-speed manual or DSG gearbox.

How much will it cost?

The entry-level 1.4 TSI petrol manual model is expected to cost around £21,500. Even that will come with three-zone climate control, alloy wheels, Bluetooth and front and rear parking sensors.

Above that, SE and SE Lux trims will supply an increasingly lavish standard of kit. Final specifications and prices have yet to be confirmed but, crucially, the Alhambra is expected to undercut the virtually identical VW Sharan. It should also be competitive with its two other key rivals, Ford's S-Max and Galaxy.

What Car? says

Good to drive and exceptionally practical. The Alhambra should be a real contender.