Like its Volkswagen Sharan MPV stablemate, the new SEAT Alhambra is all-new and replaces the previous generation version which was on sale for 15 years, but with mid-life updates of course.
Both the Alhambra and Sharan are built on the same production lines in Portugal.
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New from the wheels up the Alhambra is a full size MPV people carrier with seven seats and a wide variety of seating and load carrying combination thanks to the clever EasyFold seating system.
Now large MPVs have taken a bit of a sales hit in recent years as owners or company car users downsize because of high tax and running costs.
But the introduction of a new generation of fuel efficient top end models such as the Ford Galaxy/S-Max, Renault Espace, Peugeot 5008, VW Sharan and now Alhambra will give the sector a sales lift especially as family holidays in the UK, 'staycations', are in fashion.
SEAT expects to sell around 2,500 of these vehicles in the UK in a full year matching its peak year of sales in 2001.
The new Alhambra offers much more than the previous one, more space, far superior handling, better looks but also more costly.
The starting price is £22,330 and ranges up to a shade over £30,000 but that top price has to be finally confirmed as our test models were the first in the country.
The old range consisted of 1.9/2.0-litre TDI engine options and cost £20,370 to £23,705. On the issue of price SEAT say their new Alhambra undercuts the sister new VW Sharan by an average £1,000 across the range and has a higher level of specification.
Seat Alhambra engines and performance
Today's Alhambra engine line-up is a little wider with a 1.4-litre TSI , four cylinder, petrol unit with its forced supercharger/turbocharger system with an impressive 148bhp of power and 176lb ft of torque from 1,500rpm.
Fuel economy is officially 39.2mpg and emissions 167g/km so VED road tax is £250 for the First Year rate and then £180 a year.
This model is the least expensive version in the range so will sell on purchase price to people who cover relatively small annual mileages. SEAT estimate about 10 per cent of Alhambra customers will choose this engine option.
In addition there are two 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine options; the main selling 138bhp unit and a 168bhp version.
The 168bhp diesel and the petrol 1.4 TSI, are badged Ecomotive but the 138bhp turbodiesel model is badged E Ecomotive because, with just emissions of 146g/km of CO2, it is the cleanest model in the range.
Seat Alhambra prices and specification
The price for this version, which will be the highest seller, is £25,270. There is the choice of six speed manual or six-speed twin clutch auto transmissions.
All models have five doors, the rear side ones slide open and closed and on the top specification version these are power operated. As before there are three trim and equipment levels, S, SE and SE Lux.
All versions have as standard Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity, three zone climate control, one touch electrically operated front and rear side windows, powered and heated door mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, alloy wheels, twin halogen headlights with electric height and reach control, height and reach adjustable multi-function steering wheel, a good sound system with eight speakers, anti lock braking and stability control, seven airbags, remote central locking, alarm and immobiliser.
If a customer wants cruise control then the SE version adds that function and lots of family-friendly extra storage compartments, pockets and tray tables and integrated sunblinds in the side rear doors.
The SE Lux has powered side sliding doors and powered rear tailgate, panoramic glass sunroof, sports style heated front seats, black leather upholstery, satnav and media system and rear view camera plus much more. This version is aimed at the business chauffeur market.
SE version will be most popular with family and company car drivers and the S specification will be just what the taxi trade, minicabs and private hire customers want.
Seat Alhambra design
The Alhambra's arrow shaped front exterior and sleek side profile is eye-catching and looks really smart and well proportioned.
Like the new VW Sharan, it looks more sporting than its predecessor and the control and handling are a huge improvement. Body roll is minimal; it didn't use to be in tall 'rock and roll' MPVs of just a few years ago.
The cornering is sharp with lots of grip with good steering feel. The ride comfort is good but I suspect SEAT have done their usual sporty tuning for the dampers, bushes and spring rates because it feels a little firmer than the new Sharan with perhaps a shade more road noise intrusion. It could just be the firmer walled self sealing tyres though.
Overall the Alhambra is high on refinement and the 2.0-litre TDI 138bhp E Ecomotive power house with SE specification at £25,270 looks a good choice.
It is a big vehicle in most ways - 4.85 metres long with seven seats but with up to 2,297-litres of load space but in this sector most versions are relatively small in price with low tax and running costs.
SEAT Alhambra MILESTONES
SEAT Alhambra 2.0-litre TDI CR 138bhp with Stop/Start, E Ecomotive SE.
Price: £25,270 tbc, (best selling model).
Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, four cylinder TDI turbodiesel, 139bhp, 236lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual.
Performance: 120mph, 0-62mph 10.9 seconds, 50.4mpg Combined Cycle (42mpg on test), CO2 146g/km, VED £125 a year, BIK 20%.
Insurance group: 18E.
Dimensions: : L 4,850mm, W 1,900mm, H 1,720mm, load space 711-2,297-litres.
For: Thoroughly modern well designed inside and out large MPV, multiple passenger and load carrying options, high specification, very competitive pricing in this sector, very good to drive with trustworthy handling.
Against: Size limits easy street parking, significant wind noise from the door mirrors, firmer ride than the equally new VW Sharan - its sister model.