Seat Alhambra 2020 Research New

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Seat doesn’t want to sell you an Alhambra. It would much rather you opted for the Tarraco, a seven-seat SUV that’s bang on-brand and totally in-tune with current trends. MPVs are out of touch, out of step and very nearly outta here.

But I’m here to tell you that the Seat Alhambra is as relevant to families today as it was when the concept was unveiled at the 1995 Geneva Motor Show. SUVs might be sexy, but they’ll never be as practical and flexible as a properly sorted MPV.

Seat Alhambra 2020 Redesign

And, after living with a Seat Alhambra for three months and 3,000 miles, I can confirm that it’s a prime example of a properly sorted MPV. READ: Seat Leon X Perience Specs History

The car in question is a Seat Alhambra in top-spec Xcellence trim, powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine developing 150hp. It’s possible to get a more powerful diesel engine – the same unit is available with 184hp – but unless you raid the accessories catalogue, the Xcellence model is as good as it gets in Alhambra-land.

Amazingly, the current Seat Alhambra is approaching its 10th birthday, which in automotive terms means that it should be drawing its pension and taking advantage of free bus travel.

Seat Alhambra 2020 Images

It clings on for life partly because, until the arrival of the Tarraco, Seat hasn’t had another seven-seat SUV in its range, but also because Volkswagen hasn’t replaced the platform-sharing Sharan. The truth is, this could be the last Alhambra.

Few people will shed a tear. MPV purchases are driven through necessity rather than desire; their arrival on the driveway providing a very visual reminder that you’re no longer in the prime of your life.

What follows is 20 years of active parenthood, followed by years of providing financial and emotional support through uni and first-time-buyer schemes, then retirement, then… well, you can guess the rest.

ALSO SEE: Seat Altea Review Specs and Review

You can understand why Mr and Mrs Two-Point-Four Family are attracted to a visually more attractive seven-seat SUV, seemingly happy to accept a little less practicality in exchange for more perceived glamour at the school gates. But before you fall for the SUV marketing twaddle, here are half a dozen reasons why the Seat Alhambra is worthy of your attention.

Sliding doors are good, but electric sliding doors are even better. Opt for the SE L or Xcellence trim levels and the doors can be operated at the touch of a button, giving joy to children everywhere.

Seriously, kids love sliding doors, while you can live out your A-Team fantasies by hanging out of the side like ‘Howling Mad’ Murdock. Warning: don’t try this at home, you crazy fools.

Aside from rekindling memories of Saturday night telly, the sliding doors are extremely useful in tight parking spaces and make getting into and out of the car very easy. The tailgate is also powered, so you can put on quite a display as you wander back to the Alhambra in a supermarket car park.

There are surprisingly few cars available with sliding doors, which is a shame because once you’ve lived with them, you’ll find it hard to live without them.

How often have you read a review of a seven-seat SUV only to find that the seats in the third row aren’t quite as billed in the glossy brochure? At best, many seven-seat SUVs are little more than 5+2 vehicles, with the third row designed for occasional use only.

Things are different in the Alhambra. Getting into the very back is easy, thanks to the sliding doors and the way in which the second row of seats tilt forward, but once there, there’s plenty of space even for taller children and adults.

ALSO READ: 2020 Acura Mdx Spy Shots Wallpaper

Put it this way: whenever we’ve carried a full quota of five children, there’s been a scramble for the rear seats. There’s plenty of headroom and, thanks to the fact that the three middle seats slide forward independently, plenty of legroom, too. There’s even enough legroom if the middle row seats are slid all the way back.

Thanks to roof-mounted lights, a pair of cupholders on the left, a storage compartment on the right, and a pair of air vents, these don’t feel like the cheap seats. Remember when all the cool kids sat at the back of the bus? Things are no different in the Alhambra.

coast through life

I’m not a huge fan of the six-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission, although I’m not sure I could stomach a manual gearbox in a seven-seat MPV. Ninety percent of the time, the DSG is perfectly adequate, but it can feel flustered at junctions and when crawling in traffic, while it often selects the wrong gear for climbing or descending hills.

But there’s one aspect of DSG-equipped diesel engines I really like: coasting. When you lift off the throttle, the engine is de-clutched, helping to deliver better fuel economy. It’s why I rarely use the cruise control because even the gentlest of gradients can see you freewheeling like a kid on a skateboard.

I guess I shouldn’t get too carried away because the fuel savings are probably wiped out by the effort required to climb the hill, but it’s strangely satisfying trying to coast for as long as possible.

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