I like a bit of pampering. I’m the sort of bloke who can often be found face down on a table having his back pummelled, and I’m not too proud to admit I’ve dabbled with the odd facial, too. So yes, for me, relaxation is key.
And that’s how I’d sum up life with our SEAT Alhambra – it’s a car to lower your pulse rate. It’s definitely a head rather than a heart car – a bit of a ‘needs must’ vehicle. But when needs must, you might as well go for the best, and the Alhambra is one of the best.
Before the SEAT, I’d been taking care of our Range Rover Evoque – now that’s a heart car, and one I still lust after. But much as I loved pretty much everything about the Evoque, I was a lone voice in the very vocal Fowler family. There just wasn’t enough room inside for the five of us, let alone the dog.
So the Alhambra entered our lives and a new sense of calm has broken out. The arguing has stopped. The moans have gone. And I feel a lot more relaxed – almost Zen-like. More than any other MPV – apart from the Alhambra’s more expensive cousin, the VW Sharan – the SEAT is a doddle to carry six passengers in. My adult-sized kids are comfy in the third row and the middle seats slide so far forward, even Nanny can get into the back.
It’s handy being able to transport half of my sons’ football team in one car, too, although I sometimes think I should have got a black car with an orange taxi light on top.
But even in the striking red paintwork, this isn’t a car I admire the reflection of in shop windows. Nor is it one I relish driving across the back roads on the final leg of my journey home each evening. But the combination of the strong 2.0-litre diesel, mostly slick DSG auto gearbox, raised driving position, comfy ride and great all-round visibility makes this an easy car to really like, if not love.
Our car is the range-topping SE Lux, so it has powered side doors and tailgate, which can be opened remotely via the keyfob or buttons on the dashboard (as well as by the doors themselves). It’s a spectacle that never ceases to amaze my kids and their friends, but the nannying beeps as the doors slide shut are getting a bit grating. It’s odd that there’s no beeping when the tailgate shuts, though.
Oh, and about that keyfob. It’s survived a wash and spin, too – must remember to take the key out of my pocket in future.
Another spectacle I never tire of is the £300 Park Assist system in operation. It’ll reverse park into parallel spaces or bays and, quite simply, is a work of genius. I’m not a bad parker, but I’m a gadget lover and watching the steering wheel whirr away as I control the pedals to park the car is something I love.
So all is rosy in the calm world of Alhambra ownership. Any gripes? Fuel economy of 36.8mpg isn’t that great, and the driver’s window squeaks embarrassingly, but that’s it.
“There’s no faulting the Alhambra’s practicality, plus it’s packed with kit. Yet the DSG gearbox is a letdown, as it often delivers jerky shifts, particularly when the car’s fully loaded.”
James Disdale, Road test editor
“I know it’s not sexy or cutting edge or any of those things, but the SEAT is handsome, spacious and comfortable. And this is what I need in a car.”
pajbse, via www.autoexpress.co.uk