SEAT Alhambra SE Lux

2.0 TDI

SEAT Alhambra, front
SEAT Alhambra, front
SEAT Alhambra, side
SEAT Alhambra, rear
SEAT Alhambra, interior
SEAT Alhambra, rear
SEAT Alhambra, interior

PEOPLE carriers come in all shapes and sizes these days - some look big, bulky and lack any flair or imagination - and others such as the SEAT Alhambra combine practicality and versatility with impressive driving dynamics and smart styling traits.

The full-sized seven seater, which is a sister to the Volkswagen Sharan, is named after an historical monument in Granada, Spain, and it is available with a choice of engines and five well-equipped trim levels - S, SE, Connect, SE Lux and FR Line.

The car I tried was powered by a 2.0-litre 184ps diesel engine mated to a six-speed DSG automatic transmission and was in the near range-topping SE Lux trim priced at £34,840 (£39,105 with options fitted).

Large MPVs have a very precise target audience and the Alhambra does all the practical things very well.

The sliding rear doors result in easy access to child seats for example and the seating configurations are very simple to change with the option of folding rows two and three flat to increase storage capacities, which range from 267 to 2,297 litres.

The third row is really only suitable for children, but the second row is just perfect for adults of all shapes and sizes with bundles of leg and headroom on offer. This second row consists of three individual seats that can slide backwards and forwards and even recline if required.

The Alhambra is in its second generation, but recently underwent quite a major revamp for 2016.

It has a fresh look with a new front grille, modified LED lighting, a glossy B-pillar and new wheel designs. The interior has also been given a makeover with smart upholstery, new instrument clusters and a revised steering wheel.

This upmarket model featured the likes of 18-inch alloys, a panoramic sunroof, bi-xenon headlights, park assist, roof rails, a folding tow-bar with electronic release, electric seats with memory settings and even a massage function for the driver.

All the on-board technology is very modern as is the car's general layout and there are techno treats galore to be explored, including an excellent infotainment system with colour touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, an eight-speaker sound system and Full Link (a £150 option) that includes compatibility with Mirror Link, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

When it comes to performance, the Alhambra also impresses. Despite its larger-than-life size the car can reach from 0 to 62mph in 8.9 seconds and tops out at 135mph.

More impressively, it can deliver combined fuel economy of 53.3mpg with carbon emissions of 139g/km along the way.

In and around town the car is deceptively agile and easy to manoeuvre and all the parking aids are a great help too.

The upright driving position results in good all-round visibility which is vital on a car that will frequently be used to transport children. In addition, comfort levels are high for all occupants.

On faster roads and motorways, the acceleration through the automatic gearbox was responsive and smooth with ample power on tap at all times.

The option of steering wheel-mounted paddles is a nice touch and allows the driver to take a little more control if so desired.

Admittedly there is a fair amount of engine and wind surface noise when the car is pushed hard, but in all honesty, that is the norm for a vehicle of the Alhambra's design and dimensions and is a small price to pay for all the versatility it offers.

The car also comes with a comprehensive range of safety specifications and this particular one had a multi-function camera system (£760 extra) which added the likes of lane assist, automatic headlights and road sign recognition.

FAST FACTS

SEAT Alhambra SE Lux 2.0 TDI

Price:£34,840

Mechanical:184ps, 1,968cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:135mph

0-62mph:8.9 seconds

Combined MPG:53.3

Insurance Group: 22

C02 emissions:139g/km

Bik rating:24%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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