The new SEAT Alhambra Estate is an impressive people carrier that sports sliding rear doors and a spacious interior. It might look too bland for some, but if versatility and practicality is at the top of your list, there is a lot to like here. Moreover, understated stylish touches come in the form of chrome roof rails.
Despite being able to ferry seven people around, the Alhambra also does what other SEATs can do and what many other seven-seaters can’t – it drives well. It’s fun, easy to live with, and there is a strong selection of engines available.
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2017 SEAT Alhambra Estate review.
On The Road
Being good to drive is a rare quality in a seven-seater, and it’s what helps the otherwise dull-looking Alhambra stand out. It’s both entertaining and comfortable. The steering is well-weighted and precise, and there is hardly any body lean. For a car of this size, that’s impressive.
Moreover, there is plenty of grip and you always feel secure and safe on winding roads. A Ford can probably edge it when it comes to outright drivability, where all its other rivals are concerned? The SEAT wins.
We recommend adding adaptive dampers, which will set you back an extra £945. That’s a fair amount of cash, but they modify the suspension so that it’s able to cushion you guys from some of Britain’s worst roads. Without it, there will be a few bumps and jolts as the suspension is on the firm side.
The seating position is high enough to give you a commanding view of the road ahead, but windscreen pillars are awkward enough to cause one or two blind spots.
In terms of the engines, a 2.0-litre TDI diesel unit comes with either 148 or 181bhp. The former is the one to buy if economy is at the top of your priorities, but it is fairly sluggish. However, it’s a willing performer that isn’t significantly worse than the bigger engine at coping with full loads.
Both engines are responsive and derive a lot of power from low down in the rev range, too.
The 1.4-litre TSI engine is the sole petrol option, and you can only get it with the entry-level models. This means if you want a higher specified car, you’ll need to settle for the diesel.
The petrol engine is an excellent choice, though. It’s economical and can haul along the car on a full load with no drama.
SEAT Alhambra Estate Interior, Design & Build
The SEAT doesn’t put too many feet wrong inside, where its cabin is roomy, well-built and comfy. It also feels a bit upmarket in places.
For the most part, despite the firm suspension, the Alhambra Estate can boast good ride quality. However, broken surfaces present an issue. Insulation, on the other hand is good, and road, tyre and engine noise is well suppressed.
The driver benefits from seat and steering wheel adjustability, while the large window and raised ride height make for a commanding view of the open road.
The dashboard is typical fare for a people carrier. It’s straightforward and logistical, with the dials clear and big. There are soft touch plastics here and there, and this is a cabin that is easy to get used to and live with.
In terms of practicality, you won’t find many more practical seven seaters than this one. A flexible seating layout, sliding side doors and a 658-litre boot when all five seats are in place are all highlights. With seven seats in place, the boot measures 267-litres, but the third row folds easily. The boot can also boast a low load lip, a flat floor, and a wide opening.
The second row of seats are worth mentioning – they can be slid backwards and forwards, and they can also recline. Storage space is good, and includes a covered compartment atop the dash and a cubby underneath the front armrest.
Equipment & Safety Of The SEAT Alhambra Estate
Standard kit is decent across the range, with the entry level S model getting Bluetooth, 16” alloys, steering-wheel-mounted stereo controls, the brands Media System Plus infotainment system and triple-zone climate control.
The SE trim will sell the most. It adds 17” alloys, front fog lights, a leather steering wheel, cruise control and chrome roof rails.
The mid-range Connect model adds Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility and leather sports seats, while the SE Lux treats you to leather seats, electrically sliding rear doors, sports suspension and heated front seats.
Is the SEAT Alhambra Estate safe? Euro NCAP awarded it 5/5 when it put it through its crash-test paces, while standard safety kit includes electronic stability control, airbags, front and rear parking sensors, as well as ISOFIX child seat mounting points.
Costs Of The SEAT Alhambra Estate
Prices for the new car start out from £25,435 and rise to £35,960. If you prefer to lease, you can pick up a deal from £233 + VAT per month. For more information on our leasing deals, check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, is cheap to run when you take into consideration its size. The most frugal model of all is the 2.0-litre EcoMotive diesel engine, which develops 148bhp and returns as much as 56.5mpg while emitting 130g/km of the old CO2.
Bear in mind this figure is only achievable if you pair the engine up with the entry-level model. After that, all trim levels get heavier, which has an adverse effect on fuel economy.
The 181bhp diesel engine can return 53.3mpg, while all models cost £140 per year in road tax. In terms of insurance, the cheapest model sits in group 18, while the most expensive occupies group 24.
Pros and Cons Of The SEAT Alhambra Estate
Seven seat versatility is strengthened by a flexible seating arrangement that lets passengers slide the second row back and forth.
Sliding Side Doors
Access is easy thanks to the sliding side doors, which will help to make it a family favourite.
With all seven seats in place, it measures 237-litres, and with five seats in place it measures an impressive 658-litres.
It’s arguably SEAT’s least sexy model.
Just one diesel and one petrol are available, so it’s a case of take them or leave them.
SEAT Alhambra Estate vs Ford S-Max Estate vs Volkswagen Touran
Let’s see how the car gets on against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2017 SEAT Alhambra Estate review.
SEAT Alhambra Estate vs Ford S-Max Estate
The new Ford S-Max Estate is a smart-looking, practical seven-seater that’s great to drive.
In fact, there is probably only one car that’s better to drive than the SEAT in this sector, and this is it. Behind the wheel, it feels a lot smaller than it is. Its handling is neat and tidy, its ride quality is comfortable, and you can easily negotiate tighter turns as if you were driving a city car.
We recommend adding a “self-levelling suspension” optional extra if you’ll be carrying heavy loads a lot of the time, while four-wheel-drive models naturally have more grip than two-wheel-drive models. However, a two-wheel-drive Ford S-Max Estate is just fine if you’re not planning on going on an adventure.
In terms of the engines, the 1.5-litre EcoBoost is ideal if you’ll be spending most of your time in the city. For everyone else, we’d recommend overlooking it, as its 158bhp isn’t enough to cope adequately with a full load, or on motorways.
The 2.0-litre petrol engine is surprisingly not much better, despite producing as much as 237bhp. It puffs and pants a lot when you put your foot down, and is moreover expensive to run.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine is our top pick. It comes in three power guises – 148, 178 and 208bhp – with the less powerful of the three easily having enough to satisfy most buyers.
In terms of running costs, all 2.0-litre diesel engine variants return around 56.5mpg, which is decent for this class. They all cost £140 a year to tax, too. The petrols, despite being hi-tech, are a bit more expensive to run but, as expected, they’re among the cleanest in this class.
All models are Euro 6 compliant.
Inside, the new Ford S-Max Estate is comfortable and even a bit sporty. The driving position is nice and high, the controls are easy to get used to, and the car is well-equipped. However, it’s the range-topping Vignale variant that really stands out with its laminated side glass and leather lining.
All models suffer from cheap glove boxes and tacky plastic door bins, though.
Still, the dash benefits from soft touch materials, while the build quality can’t be faulted.
Is it practical? It’s perfect for growing families. The second row of seats slide individually back and forth, the second row seats are reclinable, and ISOFIX child-seat mount points are standard.
The third row of seats could do with being a bit roomier, and adults won’t be able to fit. The boot, meanwhile, measures over 2,000-litres when all the seats are folded flat. With all the seats in place, it has a load capacity of 285-litres.
SEAT – £25,435 – £35,960
Ford – £26,500 – £38,400
SEAT Alhambra Estate vs Volkswagen Touran
The new Volkswagen Touran is a slick, well-built and highly accomplished large family car that’s good to drive.
Smooth on the road, it might not be exciting and it might be a tad too noisy for some, but the new Touran is capable and does what it needs to do without any fuss. It’s lighter than last time, and feels at home in both the city and rural areas.
In terms of its engines, a small 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine kicks things off. It produces 108bhp, is strictly manual only and makes sense for low-mileage drivers on a budget. The 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine has a bit more about it. It can be specified with a smooth-shifting DSG automatic transmission, and develops up to 148bhp.
The diesels will remain the most popular choice, however. A 1.6-litre engine that delivers 113bhp can complete the 0-62 dash in 11.4 seconds, and we think it’ll be enough for most buyers.
However, a 2.0-litre diesel is well worth a test drive. It’s available with either 148 or 187bhp, which helps it to cope with the Volkswagen Touran Estate on a full load.
Whichever engine you plump for, all of them cost £140 per year to tax. Where economy is concerned, the 1.6-litre TDI DSG diesel engine is the most frugal, and is able to return 65.7mpg.
Where possible, opting for the 7-speed DSG auto instead of the manual will improve running costs.
Inside? The VW Touran has been treated to a high-quality, well-appointed cabin that comes with a good amount of standard kit. The infotainment system is modern and intuitive, while the range-topping models get full smartphone connectivity.
The dashboard is lighter than your average VW, build quality is top notch, as is fit and finish. It feels like the kind of robust but stylish car that can deal with whatever your family can throw at it.
It’s functional too, with the steering wheel housing a few controls, while practicality is good. A high roofline ensures good headroom, the second row of seats slide backwards and forwards with ease, and there are a remarkable thirty seven different storage cubbies.
Fold out tables are optional, the third row of seats is for kids only, while the boot measures 1,857-litres with all seats folded down. Even with all three rows up, the Touran Estate can still offer a load capacity of 743-litres. That’s impressive. Even better, it comes with a flat lip.
VW – £23,000 – £32,200
Verdict Of Our 2017 SEAT Alhambra Estate
In terms of pure value for money, it’s hard to look past this one. Sure, its bland looks won’t strike a chord in the showroom – but that’s not why we buy cars like this. If you need strong performance, dependability, practicality, a large boot and seven roomy seats, the three-times Auto Express MPV of the Year winner SEAT Alhambra Estate doesn’t really put a foot wrong.