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Seat Alhambra review: MPV that meets all manner of family needs

By Roger St. Pierre with Hazel Kempster

Need a vehicle that will meet all manner of family needs? Then shuffle Seat’s spacious and eminently practical Alhambra up your wants list.

When the first MPV people carriers appeared on the motoring scene they were not exactly an immediate soar-away success but the concept made such good sense that it started to win an enthusiastic following that blossomed into a vibrant mass market.

The Portuguese-built Alhambra was an early entrant into this arena and, with updates and modifications, and a bit of upsizing, it remains a master of the idiom, offering a roomy interior that provides seven capacious seats and decent luggage space too – yet all contained within a parking space imprint of family saloon car proportions.

It is mounted on the Audi-VW Group’s proven A5 platform. Recent revisions have sharpened the styling – it can certainly no longer dismissed as a mere van with windows, resembling more a tall estate car – and have also reduced running and maintenance costs.

This three-time ‘MPV of the Year’ award winner lists a choice between a 1.4-litre petrol engine or a 2.0litre diesel that is available tuned to either of two power outputs. All three power-plants can be had with manual or automatic transmission and each has plenty of poke, even when all seven seats are carrying large adult passengers.

The TDi Ecomotive diesel version can attain 56.5-mpg in the combined fuel consumption cycle and has lowered emissions, thanks to stop-start and a brake energy regeneration system and a park assist system which lets the driver sit back and relax while the car parallel parks itself.

The Alhambra fields four trim levels, from the £23,085 entry level S up to the £33,524 FR.

Even at base level the equipment is generous, featuring emergency brake assist, ESC, three-zone climate control, touchscreen infotainment and smart 16-inch alloys. Further up the line, the SE Lux adds a panoramic sliding roof, sat-nav, leather upholstery and powered sliding doors while the sporty FR has a limited-slip differential and swish suede-like Alcantara upholstery.

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