SEAT Alhambra SE 2.0

TDI Ecomotive

SEAT Alhambra, side static
SEAT Alhambra, door open
SEAT Alhambra, rear action
SEAT Alhambra, front action
SEAT Alhambra, second row seats
SEAT Alhambra, third row seats
SEAT Alhambra, cupholders
SEAT Alhambra, seat tray
SEAT Alhambra, phone
SEAT Alhambra, boot
SEAT Alhambra, connectivity

SOMETIMES you think car designers inhabit a different world from ordinary mortals, where everything is sporty, vibrant and exciting.

No it isn't. Sometimes we just want a car that will take the family from point A (home) to point B (school) or, in August, to point C (the airport).

If it manages that while keeping us safe and comfortable, not breaking down and not costing a fortune to run then it's job done. Car - give yourself a pat on the back.

And on those practical criteria the SEAT Alhambra you see here deserves an A-grade, comfortably.

It is undoubtedly safe (top marks in the official test), confortable (and simply vast inside for people and luggage) and economical too (48mpg on test).

What the Alhambra most definitely not is 'sporty', especially with £250 worth of Pure White paint emphasising its sheer bulk. 'More like a smart minibus', said the Navigator-in-Chief at first glimpse of a car that will seat seven adults.

SEAT thinks that not only is their full-size people carrier 'sporty', it is also an 'emotional, engaging design' and has 'powerful lines'. What were they taking as those words were penned? Something stronger than tea, methinks.

To these eyes it is none of the above, and none the worse for it. Better in fact, as it follows a brief to act as full-on family holdall, not a sad interpretation of a misshapen Ferrari.

So let's ignore the hype and look at the car instead. Like the nearly identical, but almost £2,000 dearer VW Sharan, the Alhambra is one of a shrinking breed of proper people carriers in a world being taken over by more 'sporty' SUVs - there we go again.

You can enjoy the Alhambra's space and comfort from £24,680 in a model that comes with a 1.4-litre petrol engine. Most buyers will look for a diesel (not as 'sporty' of course, but more sensible perhaps) and these start at £26,990 for a 2.0-litre unit like the one in this car.

At the top of the Alhambra pile is the £35,945 FR Line with 184 horsepower diesel, automatic gears and 35mph potential and 'sports' suspension (read, firmer) and, to emphasise the sporty inclination, floor mats with red piping.

I'd be happier with the less expensive and more down to earth Alhambra in SE trim tested here. It lacks for little, with standard kit running to 17 inch alloys, cruise control, climate control and ample examples of clever thinking that will make life less stressful with an Alhambra on the drive.

These range from an electronic brake that automatically holds the car once stopped until you engage the clutch and drive off, to storage compartments all over the place (hidden under seats, in the floor, atop the dash and, for £130, in drop down compartments in the roof).

Big sliding rear doors make it easy to clamber into the third row of seats and it is the work of a moment or two to flop rows two and three flat into the floor, leaving a load space so vast you could contemplate turning into a courier company.

FAST FACTS

SEAT Alhambra SE 2.0 TDI Ecomotive

Price: £28,780

Mechanical: 146bhp, 1,968cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 10.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 54.3

Insurance Group: 19

C02 emissions: 137g/km

Bik rating: 26%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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