Though at first glance every inch an MPV, the Alhambra, says SEAT, is something quite different. Sure enough, though it seats between five and seven people depending on the model you choose, it's easy to drive, simple to park and no more expensive to run than the car you have at the moment.
This, say SEAT, is the future; car-like qualities in what, until pre-Alhambra/Sharan and Galaxy times, was a van-like sector of the market. In the showroom, the car costs about the same as a mid-range family estate, measures in at about the same length and takes up no more space on the road. Behind the wheel, it's exactly like a medium range estate - only better, thanks to that high-seated driving position and the glassy cabin.
Whichever version you choose, you'll be looking for flexibility - and you shouldn't be disappointed. Whatever configuration of seats you choose, you'll find that all of them can be folded down or unclipped and removed completed.
Check for faulty trim and excessive transmission noise caused by the specially lengthened gear linkages. On the popular 2.0-litre, listen for clattery camshafts and make sure the drive-belt has been replaced on schedule.
Bear in mind too that most Alhambras will have been used by people not used to cars of this size. It's worth checking therefore for body scrapes and scuffed mirrors. Finally, check the condition of the rear seats; their frames may have been damaged by ill-judged removal attempts.
Alhambras come with transferable three-year parts warranties, so it may be that many used examples will still be covered.
(Estimated prices, based on a 2.0 (inc VAT) A clutch assembly is around £315, a full exhaust system is just under £245 and an exchange alternator around £220. Front brake pads are around £75 and a headlamp unit will set you back just over £90.
This car (along with its Galaxy and Sharan stablemates) is the best handling people carrier you can buy. The Alhambra doesn't roll, pitch or wallow like many of its MPV counterparts. Nor do you need a period of acclimatisation before you can drive it quickly, as you would, for example, with a fashionable four-wheel drive.
The Alhambra, along of course with its Sharan and Galaxy contemporaries, leads the MPV class on merit. That warranty and the provision of air conditioning makes it the best buy of the three, new or used - if you can find one.