SEAT Alhambra review - Engines, performance and drive
An agile, fun to drive chassis that belies its size makes the Alhambra feel surprisingly car-like
While the SEAT Alhambra is not quite as good to drive as a Ford S-MAX, it's still an appealing prospect. The suspension can feel a little firm on very rough roads, but it's a capable cruiser, while accurate steering helps make the car feel a bit smaller than it actually is. Six-speed manual and DSG automatic gearboxes are available, and the latter improves both performance and fuel economy.
Before an update in 2018, SEAT offered only one engine in the Alhambra, a 2.0-litre diesel, but now a downsized 148bhp 1.4 TSI turbo has also been made available. We'd suggest you stick with the diesel - ideally the higher-powered 175bhp version over the 148bhp model as the extra power and torque is certainly helpful when transporting seven people and all of their luggage around.
The rest of the Alhambra’s driving experience is surprisingly car-like. The SEAT feels like it carries its weight low down, and the firm suspension set-up, grippy chassis, positive steering and XDS electronic diff control (standard on SE L models) combine to deliver agile handling. Sure, it’s no sports car, and body roll is an issue in corners, but the Alhambra is well controlled, and once you’re in a bend, it feels stable and isn’t unsettled by mid-corner bumps.
This sharp cornering ability doesn’t come at the expense of comfort, either. While the SEAT’s ride is definitely on the firm side, it’s still pretty relaxing to drive, and passengers will feel comfortable, too, with plenty of space and not much in the way of noise.
The petrol engine in the Alhambra line-up is a four-cylinder 1.4 TSI unit offering 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds and a 124mph top speed.
The junior 148bhp version of the 2.0 TDI diesel has very similar figures – 10.3 seconds for the 0-62mph sprint and 124mph for the manual model, with an identical 0-62mph time for the DSG version and a top speed lowered by 1mph, not that we'd recommend you ever try to do a max speed run.
Conversely the more powerful 2.0 TDI (which has been reduced from 182bhp to 175bhp) does 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds and 130mph with the standard-fit DSG gearbox.
In this review
- 1SEAT Alhambra reviewThe seven-seat SEAT Alhambra offers strong value, sliding doors and lots of space
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingAn agile, fun to drive chassis that belies its size makes the Alhambra feel surprisingly car-like
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsEfficient engines and good value pricing means the Alhambra’s sums add up
- 4Interior, design and technologyIt won't win any beauty prizes, but the Alhambra ‘does what it says on the tin’
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceClass-leading practicality and acres of space make the Alhambra a family favourite
- 6Reliability and SafetySEAT’s reliability reputation could be better, but there are no concerns over the Alhambra’s safety