SEAT Alhambra two-litre TDi SE - perfect for a flat pack future
IMAGINE if you will a scorchio sun sinking into a glassy Med as you speak those three words which mean so much: Pass the wine.
In double quick time that translates into 'ladies and gentlemen, the bride and groom' and before you know it 'I name this screaming bundle two footballers and an X-Factor winner.'
The high performance hatchback has long gone, replaced by low performance flat pack and freshly developed opinions on soft furnishings
The MPV years beckon, mobile junior league dressing rooms cross nursery like the SEAT Alhambra.
This is not one of those compact and dinky MPVs which seem to have become popular has makers realised most people have a garage attached to their house not Crewe railway sheds. It is full-on seven seat travel, although the back row folds neatly into the floor.
There are petrol and diesel options but the engine to choose is the138bhp two-litre Tdi Ecomotiove which matches acceptable performance to frugal consumption. Just what you were looking for eh?
Yes, well with the tempering thought that this is not a cheap SEAT. In SE trim it will set you back just under £27k. Still, that's a lot cheaper than the VAG alternative of a Sharan Ecomotive and just as worthy a car albeit without quite the level of luxury.
So you are into the full family-sized item here, the bulk-buy sector of MPV life. All very well if you have the kids to justify it or the need for plenty of load space - with those back seats down you could hold the office party. I had to get the dog to bark so I knew where she was. Useful storage space, too in the centre console and other dim corners.
While you pay a higher price than, say, you will for the Peugeot 5008 the Alhambra is not an expensive car to live with. Officially those with a light touch will see an average of 50mpg. I could kick an elephant to death and still recorded 45mpg on the trip computer. Emitted carbons come to 146g/km so road tax is in band F or £135 a year.
All this gentility does nothing to detract from performance. 10.9 seconds to 60mph is enough for any former Cupra owner turned top dad. The 138bhp engine has a good blend of power to economy.
Nobody the sane side of desperation will choose to throw a big MPV around but handling is good, it's not a cumbersome car although you are aware of its size when parking in the miserable municipal car parking spaces we are now allocated. Councils everywhere listen up; its a town not Legoland. Ride and refinement is good, a quiet diesel with some wind noise as its shape suggests.
Right then, what to you get for the money?
The side doors of the Alhambra slide, always a preferred option on large MPVs. The range topping SE Lux has automatic closing. Safety considerations are what parents, anyone without a love of hospital food, would want. Stability control, tyre-pressure monitoring and seven airbags contribute to a five-star NCAP rating. To be honest anything coming out of the VW stable without this endorsement would be drowned at the factory gates.
Inside cabin aesthetics are not over exciting but then neither are they much differently than those of the upmarket Sharan, a fair bit of plush trim and classy controls. Limited dumbing down of the discounted brand comes in less eyecatching instruments and detail.
Equipment is certainly not where the SEAT suffers. Stop-start technology, energy recovery, and a full entertainment and Bluetooth package you may expect but added to that are parking sensors and three-zone climate control as well as automated lights and wipers and cruise control.
So while this is not at a price to be taken lightly should you now have Christening photographs to add to the wedding album and a collection of romantic Costa sunsets the Alhambra SE may well be the MPV for you.