SEAT was one of the first to launch a green sub-brand, with the Ibiza Ecomotive. Ian Robertson tests the more eco-friendly people carrier, the Alhambra Ecomotive
All the car makers are at it, busy engineering fresh new models with solid eco-credentials, and ever lower levels of CO2. Normally, the requirements are thrashed out at the concept stage, but SEAT has taken a different approach by applying the methods to models that have been around a while. And the Alhambra has certainly been on sale for a long time, having first hit the showrooms back in 1996. It was born out of a joint venture between Ford and the Volkswagen Group, spawning the first generation Ford Galaxy, Volkswagen’s Sharan, and of course the SEAT Alhambra you see here.
Inside the cabin there are seven individual seats, but as with most people carriers, when all the seats are in use, there is precious little space for luggage. If you want to carry both, then you’ll need to sacrifice a seat or two. All of the rear seats are removable, meaning a completely flat loadbay should you need to, but be warned, the seats are heavy and cumbersome compared to some of the newer opposition. From the drivers seat, the dash design is simple and uncomplicated with reasonable ergonomics and a durable feel, albeit a touch on the bland side. While on test, passengers commented that there was plenty of leg and shoulder room in the middle row, even with three abreast. The Ecomotive is powered by the familiar VW group 2.0-litre pümpe duse unit, and is married up to a particulate filter to reduce CO2 emissions. At 159g/km, it does what it says on the tin, and knocks off 16g/km compared to the regular models, resulting in a two band drop in VED rates. This is while only commanding a £345 price premium over the similarly specified Alhambra Reference.
Out on the road, performance is brisk, even with a full load. The 2.0-litre unit is pleasantly smooth, with minimal noise intrusion to the cabin. The ride can be a bit choppy when empty, but becomes smooth and comfortable with extra weight. Handling is tidy, although some roll is evident on tighter bends. The Ecomotive is based on the entry-level Reference trim level, and as such is reasonably well equipped. Climate control, front fog lamps, power folding door mirrors, privacy glass, cruise control and four electric windows are all fitted as standard, along with six airbags, traction control, electronic stability programme and ISOfix child seat fasteners.
For a no-nonsense load carrier, you can’t go wrong with the Alhambra. It’s well priced compared to its peers, yet comes with more generous equipment levels. It won’t set the world on fire and more modern rivals may offer a more up to date driving experience, but when it comes down to it, it’s all a case of horses for courses.
RIVALS: Ford S-MAX Edge 1.8 TDCi, Mitsubishi Grandis 2.0 DI-D Equippe, Volkswagen Sharan BlueMotion S2.0 TDI
- Engine: 1968cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel with diesel particulate filter
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max Power: 138bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 229lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 2,000kg
- Combined Consumption: 47.1mpg
- CO 2 Emissions (taxband): 159g/km (G)
- 0-62mph: 11.9secs
- Max speed: 121mph
- Insurance group: 12
Good value, durable cabin, lots of space
Ageing design, cumbersome to remove the rear seats, bland interior