The SEAT Alhambra wouldn’t be many people’s first choice of car for a trip to Mid Wales to experience some of Britain’s best driving roads. But having recently returned from a day driving a Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR on the roads around the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains, I was keen to return to the region with the family in tow. So, a couple of Saturdays ago, I asked the wife and children if they fancied getting up at the crack of dawn for a day out in Wales. Twelve hours later, before the sun had raised its weary head, the Alhambra was making its way along the A30, with two dogs in the boot (we were looking after a friend’s Border Collie at the time).
Since ‘owning’ the Alhambra, I’ve found myself heading further afield for day trips, not to mention being more generous with my offers for lifts to and from sporting events and meetings. I put this down to the Alhambra’s flexibility and ease of use – it’s so easy to switch from five-seat mode to seven- or six-seat mode and back again. On the trip to Wales, the children made use of the folding tables on the front seat backrests and the integrated sunblinds on the rear side doors (both standard on the SE trim and above), while the two dogs enjoyed the cavernous 658-litre boot. Up front, we enjoyed the commanding driving position, a pair of comfortable leather seats and the centre armrest (part of the central storage bin).
We were in the splendid isolation of Mid Wales before 9am, desperately searching – and failing – to find a decent breakfast and a good coffee. Maybe we should have bought SEAT’s new in-car coffee machine! The Alhambra soaked up the miles on the journey up the M5 and over the toll-free Severn Bridge, with little in the way of wind and road noise. It’s also supremely comfortable, although the ‘sport’ suspension can make the ride crashy over potholes and speed bumps. On the flip side, the lowered suspension helps to deliver surprisingly sharp(ish) dynamics, aided by the ageing Volkswagen car platform – this isn’t an MPV derived from a commercial vehicle. It’s hard to believe that the current Alhambra is approaching its tenth birthday, although as I’ll outline in my final report, there are some drawbacks associated with buying a new but ageing car.
For now, I’ll look forward to the final month in the company of the most practical and flexible car I have ever run. Would it be nitpicking to point to the ‘beeps’ that sound when the sliding doors and boot are shutting? On countless occasions as I’ve been loading the boot, I’ve either ducked or shifted sideways when the ‘beeps’ sound, as the boys shut the sliding doors, with me thinking the tailgate is about to close on top of me. The ‘beeps’ are identical – it would do wonders for my heart rate if the sounds were different.
Date arrived 14th January 2019
Fuel economy 39.2-41.5mpg (WLTP combined) 36.5mpg (on test)
The Volkswagen car platform gives the Alhambra surprisingly good dynamics.
I wish there were different kinds of ‘beeps’ for the sliding doors and electric tailgate.