By Patrick James on 2016-10-23 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
SEAT Alhambra SE 2.0
MINI, midi, full size, MPVs or people carriers come in all shapes and sizes.Multi purpose vehicles need to be roomy, practical and preferably economical.
The latest seven-seat SEAT Alhambra is all of these and a bit more.
A sibling of parent group VW's Sharan, it is virtually the same and for those not bothered too much about branding, better value for money.
It is now bigger and has a choice of 1.4-litre petrol or two-litre diesel engines.
It is a full seven seater, with the rearmost pair suiting children, although an adult would be reasonably comfortable over a short distance, with access to the rear through a huge sliding door either side.
It's a bit like those TV adverts, it's an MPV that does what it says on the tin. A family transporter, that can double up as a cargo transporter that offers efficient, economical engines, relatively cheap running costs and an excellent drive.
SEAT prides itself on sporty styling, which could be seen as something of a challenge is this sector of the market.
However the firm has produced a decent look for a vehicle the size of a small minibus.
Like other SEATs it is full of sharp angles and creases and the sloping profile, raked windscreen, alloy wheels and integral roofbars and roof spoiler, plus large light clusters give it a mildly sporty appearance.
The interior is classy, as you would expect from the VW group. Blinged up it ain't but the dash is dominated by a 6.5-inch colour infotainment touchscreen, which controls sound, connectivity and navigation systems.
The dark bit of the interior is offset by bright trim to doors, gearknob and dash. It feels sturdy and well finished.
The Alhambra is well equipped with the SE model here including 17-inch alloys, all round electric windows and door mirrors, tinted glass, touchscreen infotainment, cruise control, auto wipers and auto headlamps.
The 2.0-litre 150ps turbo diesel has official consumption of 56.5mpg, while in the real world, around 50mpg seemed achievable thanks to stop/start technology.
It also has relatively low emissions for such a big car of 137g/km.
There's plenty of power on tap and the vehicle accelerates well from a standing start, hitting 60mph in around 10 seconds.
It also handles surprisingly well, with a comfortable ride and sharp, responsive steering. It feels agile when cornering, even if there is a bit of wallowing.
The major point though is the practicality.
Boot space is limited with all the seats in place with 267 litres available, the tight space means bags have to be stacked, but fold the rearmost pair, which are unlikely to be used that often and the space starts to open up with a cavernous nearly 2,300 litres available with all rear seats folded flat.
This is all done with the flick of a lever so loading up is a breeze.
On top of this there are plenty of other stowage compartments under seats, on the dash and the roof lining for extra stowage, particularly when going away on holiday.
The sliding doors also mean entry and exit to the vehicle in tight parking spaces is so much easier.
SEAT Alhambra SE 2.0 TDI Ecomotive
Mechanical: 150ps, 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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