Seven-seat MPV shoot-out

How will the all-new Volkswagen Sharan and SEAT Alhambra fare against the top deck Ford Galaxy in the battle of the seven-seat people carriers?

Seven-seat MPV shoot-out
The vintage buses in this picture must have carried millions of passengers before retiring to the Oxford Bus Museum. VW’s Sharan and SEAT’s Alhambra aren’t quite as old, and won’t have moved quite so many people around, but both models qualify for long service medals – as they have been on sale for 15 years.
Their long-awaited replacements have just arrived in the UK and, as before, they look virtually identical. The cars also share the latest range of VW Group engines, practical cabins and sliding rear doors – and they’re aiming to put both manufacturers back on top in the large MPV class. 
However, in their first test, they face an Auto Express favourite: the Ford Galaxy. The current car was launched in 2006, and it set new standards for comfort, space and handling. It takes on our newcomers fresh from a mid-life update. So, which MPV is just the ticket for practical transport.

Verdict

Big people carriers are a necessity rather than a choice for lots of motorists, but that doesn’t mean they have to be devoid of any appeal beyond their practicality. The cars in this test all prove that seven-seat MPVs can provide a lot more than just space. 
The SEAT Alhambra and VW Sharan are well built, functional and efficient. With sliding doors and flexible cabins, they offer practicality along with composed handling, impressive refinement and frugal economy. 
However, the Ford has more passenger space in the third row, better visibility and sharper styling. The added sparkle of the driving experience is the icing on the cake that secures it victory. 
Choosing between the Sharan and the Alhambra for second place is easy. They’re mechanically identical and the cabins are exactly the same, too. Externally, the small detailing differences don’t give either an advantage in the style stakes, so it all comes down to value for money. Predicted resale values are only 1.3 per cent different between the two, so the SEAT’s £1,100 lower list price relegates the VW to third place.
1. Ford Galaxy
Good to look at, great to be in and brilliant to drive – the Galaxy scores on all fronts. The interior is comfortable, roomy, adaptable and well thought out, plus well equipped. A polished chassis, smooth engine and executive 
car refinement all impress, too.
2. SEAT Alhambra
Sliding doors boost practicality and the seats move with smoothly oiled precision. The SEAT is cheaper than the identical 
Sharan, yet just as well put together, and its options are 
more competitively priced. An accomplished people carrier.
3. VW Sharan
The VW comes third on price – it’s more expensive than its identical stablemate. Blind spots caused by thick A-pillars spoil the driving experience and, as with the SEAT, the third row of seats isn’t as spacious as the Ford’s.

Most Popular

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'
Opinion cheap cars
Opinion

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'

Our appetite for small, cheap cars is as strong as ever - although Mike Rutherford warns they may no longer be profitable
12 Sep 2021
What is Skoda vRS? History and best cars driven
Skoda vRS range
Skoda

What is Skoda vRS? History and best cars driven

To mark 20 years of Skoda’s vRS badge, we rounded up some of the performance cars from the past two decades that have worn the subtle green badge
17 Sep 2021
Genesis G80 vs Mercedes E-Class vs Lexus ES
Genesis G80 vs Mercedes E-Class vs Lexus ES
Genesis G80

Genesis G80 vs Mercedes E-Class vs Lexus ES

The Genesis G80 looks to make an impact in the executive saloon class as we pitch it against the Mercedes E-Class and Lexus ES
18 Sep 2021