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Used 7-seater MPVs tested: Ford S-Max vs Seat Alhambra vs Vauxhall Zafira Tourer

Modern used MPVs are a far cry from the bus-like vehicles we once had to settle for. We put three of the best to the test

Words ByWhat Car? team

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Our Verdict

Were we buying purely with our hearts, the Ford S-Max would be the car that won this group test. It is by far the most enjoyable to drive, it’s well equipped and it looks great too. If you’re going to be in the car on your own most of the time, and you want something that’s going to put a smile on your face, it’s the one to have.

The trouble is, very few people buy a seven-seater only to drive it alone for the majority of the time. What’s more important in this test is the MPV part of the equation, and in that regard the S-Max doesn’t quite stack up. It’s barely any more spacious than the considerably cheaper Vauxhall Zafira, and while it’s also less expensive than the Seat Alhambra, the saving isn’t enough to overcome its space disadvantage.

That cuts out the middleman, then, leaving the costliest and the cheapest cars to battle it out for first place. Which makes this test a difficult one to judge, because the best MPV of the three is, without a doubt, the Seat Alhambra – after all, there’s a reason it won all those MPV of the Year awards.

But is it better than the Vauxhall Zafira by the order of magnitude you’d demand if you were paying such a hefty premium for it? The answer to that question is no.

The Alhambra is a roomier, quieter, more practical and more comfortable car than the Zafira – but the Vauxhall fights back with its more manageable dimensions, more useful performance, cleverer seating and considerably lower running costs. And with the purchase prices of the two cars as they are, the Zafira is such good value that, unless you really, truly need the extra space, it makes the most sense.

Read our review of the updated Vauxhall Zafira Tourer

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1st – Vauxhall Zafira Tourer

For Stonking value; strongest performance; cheapest to run; wonderfully versatile; easy to manoeuvre

Against Not as much room as the others; noisy engine; a bit humdrum to drive

Verdict A good MPV made great by its fantastically low purchase price and running costs

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full Vauxhall Zafira review

Find a used Vauxhall Zafira for sale in the What Car? Classifieds


2nd – Seat Alhambra

For Huge amounts of interior space; quiet and comfortable; easy performance

Against High prices and the most expensive running costs; less agile than its rivals

Verdict A great MPV, but one that comes at too high a price

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used Seat Alhambra review

Find a used Seat Alhambra for sale in the What Car? Classifieds


3rd – Ford S-Max

For The most enjoyable to drive; good equipment; reasonable running costs

Against Less room than the Alhambra; pricier than the Zafira; awkward to swap between seating arrangements

Verdict Still a good MPV with loads of room

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the used Ford S-Max review

Find a used Ford S-Max for sale in the What Car? Classifieds


Specifications: Vauxhall Zafira Tourer 2.0 CDTi 165 SRi S/S

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

List price when new Β£25,915

Price today Β£9000

Power 163bhp

Torque 258lb ft

0-60mph 9.9sec

Top speed 119mph

Fuel economy 54.3mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 137g/km


Specifications: Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDI 170 SE

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

List price when new Β£27,875

Price today Β£13,500

Power 168bhp

Torque 258lb ft

0-60mph 11.0sec

Top speed 117mph

Fuel economy 48.7mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 152g/km


Specifications: Ford S-Max 2.0 TDCi 163 Titanium

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

List price when new Β£25,660

Price today Β£11,000

Power 161bhp

Torque 251lb ft

0-60mph 10.5sec

Top speed 119mph

Fuel economy 50.4mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 149g/km

Price today is based on a 2012 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

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