Feature

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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What will they cost?

There’s no beating around the bush here: the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer is, by a long chalk, the cheapest of these three both to buy and to run.

The differential in cost between it and the Seat Alhambra is vast – you’ll need to pay at least Β£3500 more to get into an equivalent Seat. And while the Ford S-Max is cheaper, it’s still around Β£2000 more these days like-for-like than the Vauxhall.

That does mean depreciation on the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer as a proportion of its value is greater than on the other two, but as that value is so much less to start with, in cash terms you’re actually likely to lose less than on either rival.

The story only gets better once you’ve bought the Zafira. You’ll pay the least to fuel it, out of the three cars, and you’ll also pay the least to tax it. What’s more, while servicing will be costlier than on the S-Max, it’ll be cheaper than on the Alhambra.

The Zafira also manages a decent reliability record; for starters, it doesn’t seem to suffer from the fire-causing air conditioning issues that have bedevilled earlier Zafiras, and there are relatively few common problems reported.

All of which leaves the Zafira looking like it’ll save you a huge wodge of cash over the other two. By contrast, it’s the Alhambra that’s the most expensive to buy and run – not only will it set you back considerably more to buy, but it’s the poorest on fuel, the most expensive tax and the costliest to service.

It’s worth noting, too, that Alhambras equipped with this 2.0-litre diesel engine may be affected by the Volkswagen Group emissions fix, so it’s worth reassuring yourself that you’re happy with the possible outcomes before you buy.

The Ford S-Max, therefore, falls between the two cars in terms of cost – and does so in almost every area, with the exception being servicing costs – it’s the cheapest here to service.

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