Review: SEAT Alhambra (2010 – 2020)


Sliding side doors as standard. Very spacious with a good quality interior. Frugal and low CO2 TDI engines. Sister car to the new Volkswagen Sharan but better value.

Not thrilling to look at but then few MPVs are.

SEAT Alhambra (2010 – 2020): At A Glance

Bigger, better and more economical than before, the second generation SEAT Alhambra was a long time coming. The original version was launched way back in 1996 and was certainly feeling very dated by the end of its life, so this replacement couldn't have come soon enough.

This second generation Alhambra is a big improvement on the original and it needs to be if it wants to compete with the current crop of seven-seat MPVs.

The big change is the introduction of EasyFold seats which mean that all five rear seats can now be easily folded flat onto the floor, unlike before when only the backs folded down (or they had to be removed altogether). Getting to the rearmost seats is also much easier as the outer centre seats cantilever forward to afford access to the back row.

There are plenty of useful features too, including sliding side doors, which open electrically on top models along with the tailgate, Isofix child seat mounting points with top tether anchors on all five rear seats and the option of integrated child seats in the middle row. It's also well equipped as standard with all models getting features such as front and rear parking sensors, alloy wheels, climate control, Bluetooth and an electric parking brake.

On the move the Alhambra is refined and quiet, making it ideal for long distances and it's spectacularly easy to drive with precise controls, neat handling and good all-round visibility.

The engine line-up is simple with one petrol - a small but pokey 1.4 TSI Twincharger with 150PS - and a 2.0 TDI available with either 140PS or 170PS. Most people opt for the TDI 140PS and it makes the most sense with plenty of torque and a claimed average of 50.4mpg with the standard six-speed manual gearbox.

SEAT Alhambra 2015 Range Road Test

What does a SEAT Alhambra (2010 – 2020) cost?

List Price from £31,000
Buy new from £25,710
Contract hire from £283.02 per month

SEAT Alhambra (2010 – 2020): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4854 mm
Width 1904–2081 mm
Height 1720–1740 mm
Wheelbase 2919 mm

Full specifications

It's clear that a lot of thought has gone into the interior of the Alhambra and both user-friendliness and quality is a big improvement on the old model.

The biggest change is that each of the rear seats can be folded flat into the floor if you don't need them thanks to the EasyFold system (they had to be removed in the previous Alhambra) and doing so is quick and easy.

This means that you can change from having a cavernous van-like load area (with a flat floor and a huge 2297 litres of space which is ideal for moving bits of furniture) to being able to carry seven people, in just a few minutes.

The rearmost seats are surprisingly spacious but getting to them can be tricky, although access is helped signifcantly by the wide opening sliding doors and the fact that the outer seats on the middle row slide and tilt forward in one movement (see pictures). With the extra seats in place, the boot space is fairly limited but you can still get a decent number of shopping bags in. With the third row folded down there's a really impressive 658 litres which is more than enough for several suitcases and a pushchair.

The second row is the best place to be in the Alhambra. It's a little higher than the front seats giving a good view out which is helped by the large side windows. The seats in this row can be slid backwards and forwards plus the angle of the backrests can also be adjusted so it's easy to get comfortable on long journeys.

The sliding side doors are great too - especially in tight multi-storey car parks - and prevent your doors and other cars being damanged by over-enthusiastic children. On SE Lux (and optional on SE) these are electric as is the tailgate, although to be honest, they slide so easy it's not exactly difficult to open them.

Usefully, the seats in the second AND third rows come with Isofix child seat mounting points with additional Top Tether anchors. Also available for the second row are integrated child seats suitable for children weighing around 15kg and over.

Storage is plentiful as you'd expect on a family people carrier with loads of compartments and cubbies dotted around plus two 12v sockets. The large bin on top of the dashboard is really useful (for sat nav units for instance) while the centre arm rest is standard on all models and be adjusted back or forth. The front door bins can hold a 1.5-litre bottle while the sliding doors have room for one-litre bottles.

Quality is another strength of the Alhambra with a robust and well-finished feel inside. It's neatly designed too and although there's not much to grab the attention, it's at least sleek with easy to use controls. The stereo is straightforward as are the climate control switches, which all have a nice weight to them. The driver gets well looked after too with clear and simple dials along with a good driving position giving a nicely raised view out without feeling like you're too high.

Standard equipment from launch (November 2010):

S is the entry-level model but equipment levels are still generous and it has electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, sliding side doors, 16-inch alloy wheels with 215/60 R16 tyres, self-sealing tyres, front and rear parking sensors, three zone climate control, height and reach adjustable steering, curtain airbags for all three rows, a driver's knee airbag, remote central locking, five individual fold-flat rear seats, retractable luggage cover, CD stereo with AUX input, Bluetooth, trip computer, engine immobiliser, ESP with brake assist, power steering, an electric parking brake, autohold control, stop/start and brake energy recovery.

SE models get chrome side window trims, dark tinted rear windows, chrome roof rails, integrated sun blinds in rear doors, front fog lights, automatic lights and wipers, high beam assist, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, cruise control, 17-inch alloys with 225/50 R17 self-sealing tyres, chrome interior dashboard detailing, USB and AUX-in, a three-spoke leather steering wheel and gear lever plus storage boxes under driver the front passenger seats.

SE Lux is the top version and has powered sliding side doors, a power-operated tailgate, sports style comfort front seats which are 12-way electrically adjustable and heated, black leather upholstery, a panoramic glass sunroof and the SEAT media system which includes sat nav, a 5-inch colour touchscreen, DAB radio, a rearview camera and an SD card slot.

Child seats that fit a SEAT Alhambra (2010 – 2020)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the SEAT Alhambra (2010 – 2020) like to drive?

Given that it's the sister car to the Volkswagen Sharan, it's not really surprising that the Alhambra uses the same engines (apart from the 2.0 T petrol). All are fitted with stop/start (even on DSG models) in order to save fuel and keep CO2 emissions low along with a brake energy recovery system - hence why they are all badged as Ecomotive models.

The only petrol is a 1.4-litre TSI but if you're thinking this is far too small to power a full-size MPV you'd be wrong. Thanks to the use of both a turbocharger and a supercharger, this chain-cam four-cylinder engine produces 150PS and 240Nm of torque from just 1500rpm and manages 0-62mph in a more than respectable 10.7 seconds.

Obviously it doesn't have the grunt of the TDI engines, but it's smooth, quiet and surprisingly nippy, especially away from a standstill. You will notice a lack of power when accelerating in-gear at higher speeds, especially with a full load on board, but the TSI still gives a good account of itself and averages a claimed 39.2mpg with CO2 emissions of 167g/km.

However, as you'd expect, it's the impressive TDI diesels which the majority of people go for, especially if most of your driving is on motorways. The mainstay of the Volkswagen, SEAT, Audi and Skoda ranges, the 2.0 TDI is available in the Alhambra in two versions - one with 140bhp and one with 170bhp. As it's now a common rail diesel (as opose to the older Pumpe Duse TDI), it's quieter and smoother than before, although still a little vocal at times.

The TDI 140PS is more than adequate for the Alhambra with 320Nm of torque so although its 0-62mph time of 10.9 seconds is actually slower than the 1.4 TSI engine, the extra pulling power means it's far more useful in everyday driving and rarely has to be worked hard.

With the standard positive shifting six-speed manual gearbox it'll average a claimed 50.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 146g/km of CO2. A six-speed dual clutch DSG gearbox is available as an option and it changes gear very smoothly and quickly. There have been issues with DSG gearboxes in the past, but none of these problems (such as the dreaded interference when nosing out of a junction) seems apparent in the Alhambra.

The TDI 170PS is as impressive as ever with genuine performance and great pulling power thanks to 350Nm of torque. It's great for easy overtaking and on the motorway you rarely have to take it out of top gear. Despite this it's still very frugal and has a claimed economy figure of 48.7mpg with emissions of 152g/km of CO2.

From behind the wheel the Alhambra is composed, calm and incredibly easy to drive. There's not too much in the way of excitment but then there's not supposed to be - this is a family people carrier after all.

Instead it goes about its business with minimal fuss. Body roll is kept well in check and there's good front end grip too, while the steering is nicely weighted at speed but light for parking. And despite being 4.85 metres long, slotting it into spaces is easy thanks to a near vertical rear end plus front and rear parking sensors as standard.

It's most impressive on the motorway thanks to its forgiving ride and great sound insulation. It really is very quiet and cossetting on board at a steady 70mph, making it ideal for long journeys and big holiday trips.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.4 TSI 39–42 mpg 9.9–10.7 s 150–167 g/km
1.4 TSI 150 42 mpg 9.9 s 151 g/km
1.4 TSI DSG 37–42 mpg 9.9–10.0 s 156–178 g/km
2.0 TDI 115 Ecomotive 50 mpg 12.6 s 146 g/km
2.0 TDI 140 DSG 50 mpg 10.9 s 149 g/km
2.0 TDI 140 Ecomotive 50 mpg 10.9 s 146 g/km
2.0 TDI 150 DSG 53–54 mpg 10.3–10.4 s 136–137 g/km
2.0 TDI 150 Ecomotive 54–55 mpg 10.2 s 130–132 g/km
2.0 TDI 170 49 mpg 9.5 s 152 g/km
2.0 TDI 170 DSG 48 mpg 9.8 s 154 g/km
2.0 TDI 177 47 mpg 9.3 s 158 g/km
2.0 TDI 177 DSG 48 mpg 9.3–9.6 s 147–154 g/km
2.0 TDI 184 53 mpg 9.4 s 139 g/km
2.0 TDI 184 DSG 53 mpg 8.9 s 139–141 g/km

Real MPG average for a SEAT Alhambra (2010 – 2020)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

23–50 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the SEAT Alhambra (2010 – 2020)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Where can I buy an ex-Motability car from?

I would like to buy a three-year-old ex Motability SEAT Alhambra. Other than going to my local SEAT dealership is there anywhere else I should try?
Motability Operations sells most vehicles online at the end of lease to motor traders only, to ensure that anyone buying an ex-Scheme vehicle can easily access professional post-sale care, via the purchasing dealer. They have extended that approach to all vehicles sold via physical auction, to ensure that important part of the used car ownership experience is fulfilled consistently. Your local SEAT dealership will be best placed to help you find the vehicle you are looking for.
Answered by Heidi Turner
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