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Alhambra is shining example

Created on 15/06/2017 @ 12:20
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Test drive by Graham Breeze

The recently facelifted and multi-award-winning SEAT Alhambra is a shining example of why the MPV sector has become so popular.

I’ve got a real soft spot for a good seven-seater and while no longer facing the demands of a young family the SEAT is the ideal vehicle for that weekend away or, more importantly in my case, a golfing trip with friends.

“It’s just a Volkswagen Sharan with SEAT badging,” I hear you say – and to a large degree you are right. But you can save yourself thousands with the new SE Lux 2.0TDi and still reap all the benefits offered by the VW Group’s A5 platform.

At £35,540 the Alhambra on test is certainly not cheap but it is extremely well priced in the sector and comes loaded with the best technology and more standard equipment than you would expect for the price.

SEAT has been celebrating massive sales success this year and ended April as the fastest-growing car brand in the UK. Against a backdrop of falling car sales in the UK, down 19.8%, SEAT bucked the trend with impressive growth of 12%.

A lot of that was down to the very successful launch of the impressive Ateca, largely overshadowing the careful improvements made to the Alhambra range.

Outwardly it’s hard to say much has changed, though SEAT bosses would argue there’s a bit more styling and sculpturing. The most noticeable difference sees horizontal bars on the grille and a bigger SEAT emblem.

Those looking for extra seats and space will not be disappointed. Both the second and third row seats fold smartly into the floor – no lifting or pulling, just a simple pull on a toggle.

With the third row flat 658 litres of space can be revealed, meaning ample space for a family of four or a golfing four-ball. But in seven-seat mode you only get 267litres and that isn’t really enough.

Fold all the seats down and you are left with an enormous 2,297 litres of space which is more than enough for any man unless you are planning to help out the local undertaker with a few “chauffeuring” jobs.

And you will find many combinations of seating positions allowing use of say five or six seats to carry additional luggage together with the ability to move the second row back and forth by up to 16cms.

But would you want to travel far as a back-row passenger? No is the simple answer unless you are a small child or one of Snow White’s seven dwarfs.

You can chose between a 1.4TSi petrol or the 2-litreTDi which I drove in 184PS, six-speed DSG auto format producing an impressive 53.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 139g/km. The model is capable of a top speed of 134mph and 0-62mph in 8.9seconds – very quick. 

The unexpected bonus comes with the levels of equipment and technology included in the £35,540 price ticket.

Externally you get LED lights, front fogs with cornering function, body colouring to bumpers, doors and mirrors, sliding rear doors, electric door mirrors and chrome finishing to roof rails and side windows.

Interior equipment includes lockable and refrigerated glove box, front courtesy lights with delay facilities, plenty of cup holders and very impressive storage areas in front and rear. There’s also covered storage facilities on the dashboard and rear floor and folding seat tables.

For those wanting to stay connected you get a Sat Nav system with rear view camera, 3D map display, DAB radio, high resolution driver display and SD card slot.

The test car came with SEAT’s Full Link system which included compatibility with Mirror Link, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with a multi-function camera offering lane assist, automatic headlights and road sign recognition.

SEAT has upped the game on safety levels too with all-round airbags, a tiredness recognition system, seat belt reminders, height adjustable seats, stability control, brake assist, hill hold control, tyre pressure monitoring, child locks, remote central locking, engine immobiliser, an alarm system with tow-away protection and a multi-collision braking system.

The Alhambra is as near as you will get to a genuine seven-seater in the MPV sector and you won’t find the same levels of standard equipment anywhere else – well worth a look.

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