SEAT Alhambra Review logo

SEAT Alhambra Review

Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image

1/10

Car image

2/10

Car image

3/10

Car image

4/10

Car image

5/10

Car image

6/10

Car image

7/10

Car image

8/10

Car image

9/10

Car image

10/10

1 / 10

heycar review

      Launch year
      2010
      Body type
      MPV
      Fuel type
      Petrol, Diesel
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Family-friendly transport for seven”

Best bits

  • Can seat seven adults in comfort
  • Practical and spacious, even with all seven seats in use
  • Sliding doors, which are electric on some versions

Not so great

  • Drab, van-like styling
  • Lacks the latest passive and active safety systems
  • Infotainment system is a generation behind modern units

Read by

SEAT Alhambra Right Side View

Overall verdict

SEAT Alhambra Front Interior

On the inside

SEAT Alhambra Front View

Driving

SEAT Alhambra Rear View

How much does it cost to run

SEAT Alhambra Back Car Seats

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"Judged on the basis of seven-seat practicality, the SEAT Alhambra would score top marks. Few cars offer such a compelling blend of space, flexibility and car-like dynamics. However, it’s showing its age, so has to be marked down in terms of safety and connectivity."

SEAT Alhambra Right Side View

To enjoy a 10-year production run, a car must be doing something right. Launched in 2010, and only put out to pasture in 2020, the SEAT Alhambra is one of the best seven-seat MPVs you can buy.


It shares its body and oily bits with the Volkswagen Sharan, but thanks to a cheaper price and marginally nicer aesthetics, the Alhambra always felt a cut above its Volkswagen stablemate. We use the word ‘aesthetics’ with caution, because a seven-seat MPV is unlikely to set your heart racing.


Besides, if you’re in the market for a people carrier, you’re probably done with all that romantic nonsense. You’re looking forward to a life of nappies, toilet breaks, mornings at the soft play centre, and cries of “Are we there yet?”.


That’s why you’ll find the SEAT Alhambra so appealing. Unlike the vast majority of the seven-seat SUVs available, it offers genuine seating for seven. That’s seven in comfort, not five plus two in the back row squeezed in like sardines.


It gets better, because if you don’t require the third row of seats, you can fold them away to reveal a massive 658 litres of luggage space. It will even swallow 2,297 litres with all five seats folded down, but your children might not thank you for leaving them behind. The fact is, the Alhambra is properly practical.


You also get a pair of sliding rear doors – electrically operated on some models – which make it easier to load children in tight parking spaces. Open both doors and you can play frisbee or football through the car. Don’t ask us how we know this.


Predictably for an MPV, there are plenty of storage boxes, pockets and cubbies throughout the cabin. There are even hidden boxes below the floor, so you can play hide and seek with your partner’s iPad. That’s a game they will really enjoy.


It’s also worth noting that the third row gets a pair of cupholders, a storage compartment, a pair of air vents and roof-mounted lights. Remember when the cool kids sat at the back of the school bus? Things are the same in the Alhambra.


So far, so practical. But there’s more to the Alhambra than space for pushchairs, storage bins and the occasional game of frisbee with your dog – it’s actually pretty good to drive. Because it’s based on a Volkswagen car platform, rather than van underpinnings like some MPVs, it’s not the yawn-fest you’d expect.


There’s also a good range of engines, including a surprisingly rapid turbocharged petrol that is perfect for the school run. The torquey diesels that are great for long journeys, or when travelling seven-up.


Opt for the Xcellence trim level and the SEAT Alhambra could even pass for a premium car. You might want a seven-seat SUV, but trust on this: you need a seven-seat MPV. The SEAT Alhambra is one of the best of the breed.

Is the SEAT Alhambra right for you?

The seven-seat SEAT Tarraco might look better and be nicer to drive, but it can’t match the Alhambra when it comes to space and practicality. Thanks to seven individual seats, it offers the kind of flexibility an SUV can only dream about.


You won’t win any style points in the Alhambra, but while your friends are using their Tetris skills to cram children and luggage into their SUV, you’ll be off your driveway faster than you can say: “The last one to the seaside is cotton-headed ninny muggins.” Other insults are available.


It’s not perfect. The Alhambra lacks the latest safety systems and smartphone connectivity, so modern tech is one reason why your head might be turned by the Tarraco. Aside from that, you’ll love the frugal engines and the fuss-free approach to motoring.


Trust us: as your children get older, anything fuss-free is a bonus. The Alhambra will slot into family life like that golden retriever you promised your kids.

What’s the best SEAT Alhambra model/engine to choose?

An updated SEAT Alhambra went on sale in October 2015. Highlights included more efficient diesel engines, an improved cabin, subtle tweaks to the styling, an updated infotainment system and enhanced safety equipment.


Even the basic SE trim level offers a generous level of kit, but it’s worth upgrading to the SE L for the electric sliding doors and tailgate, rear-view camera and heated seats. The SE L is the range sweet-spot, but the Xcellence gets a brilliant electric panoramic sunroof.


The 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine is surprisingly good and could be ideal if you spend most of your time in the city. But it can’t hold a candle to the 2.0-litre TDI, which offers a terrific blend of performance and economy.

We’d recommend the 177PS version over the 150PS unit, as the extra pace is welcome and you should achieve around 40mpg on a good run.

What other cars are similar to the SEAT Alhambra?

The seven-seat MPV is a dying breed, as buyers flock to the perceived prestige and glamour of the SUV. The Alhambra is mechanically identical to the Volkswagen Sharan, but you’ll pay more for the Volkswagen badge.


Elsewhere, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is an excellent alternative, while the Ford Galaxy and S-MAX are worthy contenders. The BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer is worth a look if you require a posh badge, while the Citroen Berlingo is the MPV to buy if you’re after something with space to rival an Amazon warehouse.


If you fancy a seven-seat SEAT, the SEAT Tarraco is a stylish alternative to the Alhambra, but the platform-sharing Skoda Kodiaq offers better value for money.


Learn more

SEAT Alhambra Front Interior

On the inside

SEAT Alhambra Front View

Driving

SEAT Alhambra Rear View

How much does it cost to run

SEAT Alhambra Back Car Seats

Prices, versions and specification