SEAT Alhambra review

Car reviews
SEAT Alhambra review (The Car Expert)

What is it? Major update of good value MPV.
What’s new? New Euro-6 engines and some visual updates
Our view: The new SEAT Alhambra is a good vehicle made even better.
Type of review: Taster test


Five years on from its launch the second-generation SEAT Alhambra receives a mid-life refresh which is rather more comprehensive than normal. On the outside the changes are subtle, extending to a revised front grille, a gloss look to the central door pillar, LED rear lights and new alloy wheel choices, while inside has seen a complete makeover most notably with changes to the instrument panel that makes driving the car an even more user-friendly experience.

The major changes, however, are to the engines – totally redeveloped they are all now Euro 6 emissions compliant and according to their creators up to 15 per cent more fuel efficient.

1511_SEAT_Alhambra_05There is plenty of new tech too, from the Dynamic Chassis Control with normal, comfort and sport driving modes constantly monitoring and altering damper settings accordingly, to a standard-fit touchscreen infotainment system and ‘Full Link’. The latter seamlessly integrates Apple, Android or Mirror smartphone operating systems to enable use through the car’s touchscreen.

One can also choose an Alhambra Connect model. These are the result of an agreement between SEAT and phone manufacturer Samsung to develop connectivity applications together and each Connect variant comes with its own Samsung handset.

What do we think of it? The Alhambra is a much-underrated MPV, effectively Volkswagen’s Sharan but better value. It offers lots of space while being a very easy vehicle to drive and live with, a fact demonstrated by the fact that some 70 per cent of its sales are to fleet buyers.

The 148bhp diesels are expected to be the best sellers in the new range but for those who need to carry full loads long distances there’s much to be said for the more powerful 181bhp unit of our test car. It bowls along with confidence but remains both flexible and refined, particularly when combined with the DSG auto gearbox.

1511_SEAT_Alhambra_03Ever more attention is being played to interiors in the current market and the SEAT Alhambra’s meets the brief, being of quality and convenience, while the connectivity upgrades in particular are easy to make effective use of. The touchscreen, which senses the presence of one’s finger before one touches it and adds various buttons to the screen, can be initially unnerving but it soon becomes second nature to use.

Verdict: Updates are essential to ensure a model does not lose its appeal but when that model is almost a secret success, regularly picking up awards, effectively updating it can be more difficult. However SEAT has achieved this aim with the latest Alhambra, making a quality vehicle even better.

The higher-spec models in particular, with such niceties as power-sliding side doors and tailgate, a full suite of connectivity and technology that for example makes parking in the most difficult space a task of ease, offer premium transport at the very top of the mainstream market.

SEAT Alhambra – key specifications

Tested model: SEAT Alhambra SE Lux 2.0 TDI 184PS 6-speed DSG
Price: £39,105 inc £4,265 options (Range starts £24,885)
On sale: September 2015
Engine: 2.0 diesel, 181bhp, 280lbft (range also includes 1.4 148bhp petrol, 2.0 148bhp diesel)
0-62mph and max speed: 9.4sec, 132mph
Economy and emissions: 53.3mpg, 139g/km
Test date: November 2015

The Car Expert Taster Tests are concise summaries of new models to the market, that we have driven for under 50 miles. They are often preludes to full road tests of the vehicle at a later date.

Andrew Charman

Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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